Topics tackled by the group on the fourth day of our Telluride Roundtable on “Open and Honest Communication Skills in Healthcare” included mindfulness and culture. The morning’s session on mindfulness, led by Bob Galbraith and Anne Gunderson, generated considerable discussion on the impact mindfulness plays in both open and honest communication skills and in high-reliability organizations (HRO’s). HRO’s are not satisfied with their successes. They have a preoccupation with failure and their culture is one where people feel safe to report incidents.
Mindfulness, as defined by Weick and Sutcliffe, is to become more aware of one’s own mental processes, listen more attentively, become flexible, and recognize bias and judgments, and thereby act with principles and compassion; it is one’s ability to uncover our own blind spots. Discussion also focused on the characteristics of curiosity, self-awareness and situational awareness in open and honest conversations. Being mindful requires more than just active listening, it requires empathetic listening. Participants debated whether mindfulness can be learned or whether it is something that is role-modeled by mentors and then cultivated in learners. The morning concluded with Cliff Hughes sharing a remarkable story on mindfulness and a near-miss of a major commuter train derailment.
On Friday, we will reflect on our week’s work and begin the process of pulling everything together so we can create a consensus curriculum on open and honest communication skills in healthcare.