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Flip the Clinic: reimagining healthcare in the US

Reos Partners
March, 2015


Discover how Reos Partners supported Flip the Clinic, an initiative to improve health care in the US through patient-practitioner collaboration.


Flip the Clinic seeks to dramatically improve medical visits in the United States through a community-driven reimagining of health and health care. All over the country, patients, clinicians, designers, advocates, and caregivers are working on “Flips”—simple yet powerful ideas for change that benefit patients and clinicians alike. Flips address points of friction in the health care system and attempt to fundamentally transform processes, relationships, or environments that aren’t working as well as they could be.

Flip the Clinic is unique in that it focuses on the relational aspects of health, not the transactional. Its outlook is human-centered. The project encourages people to pitch and experiment, to open up to new ideas and different perspectives, and to challenge themselves to think about health care problems more deeply and solutions more freely than before.

The project began as an online effort to collect and share new ways of looking at the patient-clinician relationship. continues to serve as a hub for discussion and development, but the project’s reach has expanded.

In 2015, Flip the Clinic held seven regional Flip the Clinic Labs and a three-day Summit. The day-long regional workshops brought together people interested in transforming their local clinics and communities. Together they developed powerful ideas for change, supported by tools and approaches designed for innovation. After each event, the work continued with facilitated follow-up conversations and coaching for participants in launching or advancing their Flips.

Lab participants have developed the majority of Flip the Clinic’s 80-odd Flips. In one example, San Francisco Lab attendee Keith Seidel, of Southeast Health Center Health Center in San Francisco, cut the time patients spent in the waiting room from 30 minutes to four


Flip the Clinic is a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). It was initiated by Thomas Goetz while he was an entrepreneur-in-residence at RWJF. Reos Partners was a founding member of the project, along with Volume Inc., a design firm based in San Francisco.

The challenge

To develop powerful, healthcare-shifting ideas that work within a broken system.


Participants from each Lab have taken Flip the Clinic’s techniques and applied them in the clinic, at home, or in the workplace.

From its many success stories, Flip the Clinic has been able to codify what works—what principals and processes are essential in a Flipped Clinic, and how to build relationships that sustain more effective clinics, lead to happier patients and clinicians, and contribute to the advancement of a broader culture of health.

The Summit

The Summit brought together 11 teams from past Flip the Clinic Labs, health systems, clinics, organizations, and communities across the country for a three-day event. Teams shared expertise, worked on Flips, and amplified their ideas with one-on-one help from the world’s leading voices in health, technology, design, marketing, business, and leadership.

Online Community

The Flip the Clinic online community is an integral part of the project. There, people can submit and comment on Flips and share what works.

Several Flips have used Twitter hashtags to engage participants. For example, Flip #33 uses the Twitter hashtags #IWishMyDoc and #IWishMyPatient to improve understanding and empathy between clinicians and patients.

Flip #63 uses #KidsIRB to discuss the possibilities for translating Institutional Review Board Literature—material about research involving human participants—into formats that are accessible for kids, such as coloring books and illustrated posters.


Since Flip the Clinic’s launch, the community has initiated more than 80 Flips. Flip #55, “Increase Digital Health Record Engagement,” is on course to reach 20 million patients and 160,000 clinicians. Whitney Bowman-Zatzkin, who launched this Flip, presented it as part of the White House Champions of Change for Precision Medicine event in July 2015.


“The Lab was such an incredible structure for honoring the wisdom of the crowd. I work in K-12 education, and we have created a similar experience for principals and school district personnel. They love it. We had the superintendent come up and she started to cry, thanking us, saying, ‘This has gotten us further than I have ever gotten.’ It’s almost a culture-building experience, creating a culture of openness and action, giving people that day to respectfully talk about problems and come up with ideas. It was the structure that helped them do that.”

Laurie King, Director of Learning and Communication Systems, Maricopa County Education Service Agency

“In (happy) tears as an idea I had 10 years ago comes to life!”

MarlaJan DeFusco, summit participant, pediatric RN, lupus blogger, patient advocate, and health activist


“Flip the Clinic is creating the possibility of a new system. It’s creating a critical moment next to the 20-minute office visit that can be incredibly powerful for the delivery of health care and health.”

Atul Gawande, surgeon, public health researcher, and author of The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

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