@cogdogblog via flickr
Dr. Henry Plummer was among the first physicians hired by Dr. Will Mayo at Mayo Clinic as they were creating the world’s first integrated group practice. Dr. Will would later quip that hiring Dr. Plummer was the best day’s work he had ever done.
Among Dr. Plummer’s many accomplishments and contributions to medicine was creating something that we all take for granted today: the medical record. Back in the day, when you went to see the doctor he (yep…it was “he” back then) would keep notes about your visit in a book in his office. You visit, he examines you, he takes notes, he puts his book on the shelf. But medicine was changing: physicians were starting to specialize in different aspects of medicine so patients weren’t going to see one doctor, but many. So how would Dr. X know what Dr. Y had been doing with you? Dr. Plummer saw this and knew that a better system had to be developed to meet the needs of the patients.
Enter he medical record. And one of the biggest fights of Plummer’s life.
It goes that Plummer had to physically pry the books of patient notes out of the hands of his colleagues, they were so resistant to this change. And you can hear the reasons escaping their lips: “this is the way we’ve always done it.” “These notes are my notes!” “How will this system help me?”
Dr. Plummer wasn’t fighting against some unknown constituency: he was up against his colleagues who, for all intents and purposes, could have made life hell for him for years to come. But, to him, the need was so compelling and the implications too important to not take up his fight. Other doctors needed to now what each other were doing in order to give exemplary care to patients. Patients deserved to have their best interests served.
You have ideas. Stunning ideas. Radical ideas. Revolutionary ideas. Ideas that could be game changers in your life, your community, the world. But ideas are nothing unless they are fought for. Plummer could have fallen flat on his face; he was prepared for that. Are you prepared for that? Are you ready to go toe-to-toe with whoever you need to for the sake of your idea?
You can blow off this post if you want: I’m not a doctor, I’m not a genius, my idea isn’t that great, whatever. But before you do think of what our lives would be like if Dr. Plummer said the same thing. Thank God he accepted the invitation to fight. I’m offering that same invitation to you.