Get stronger by thinking beyond yourself

During the past week or so, many of you reading likely dumped a bucket of ice water over your head, on camera, to help raise donations and awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). And chances are actor Robin Williams' death from apparent suicide stopped you in your tracks when the news broke Monday evening.

While neither the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, nor a celebrity's lost battle with depression and addiction are directly linked to practice management, they are examples of big stories that made the world a little smaller. Just when Facebook and Twitter seemed overtaken by frivolous rants and selfies, a sizable swath of the public put their faces out there to stand up for something meaningful. Regardless of the specific diseases, it's encouraging to see generosity, grief and humanity become trending topics.

These events also reinforce some of the points within this week's top stories--including our humanity. We've covered the topic of physician wellness within FiercePracticeManagement again and again. But it bears repeating that many doctors must take better care of themselves, and receive more support to do so. It doesn't matter whether a person has an Oscar, a medical degree or seemingly perfect physical health; everyone has a breaking point from which it's much more difficult to return than avoid in the first place.

This week is also illustrative of the vast potential of positive peer pressure. While the Ice Bucket Challenge holds some of the potentially off-putting elements of a virtual chain letter--with the instruction to do something, get three more people to do it, or pay a consequence--it kept people on board because they could see it contributing to a greater good. It's cliché, but being part of something bigger than oneself is truly powerful.

These are reminders that you can apply to your patients, your staff and your care teams. Possibly, this idea holds some potential in helping solve the problem of getting patients fired up, as former president of the American College of Physicians Molly Cooke, M.D., once expressed to me, about proactively improving their own health. Perhaps it isn't necessary for patients get angry at their disease, as the AIDS patients Cooke worked with did, but rather to get excited about making a difference.

So if your practice conducts group medical appointments, support groups or hosts online communities, I encourage you to think about how to keep these groups abreast of their progress (in ways that are mindful of HIPAA, of course) and celebrate it.

If you're already tracking and sharing progress toward your goals on a care-quality or business level, think about ways to inject a little fun into your spreadsheets. You don't need ice water, but activities that bring out people's silly, more humble sides, is effective at bringing teams closer together and making them more effective. There are a multitude of ways to create a phenomenon within your practice community. What's yours? - Deb (@PracticeMgt)