How to Operationalize Personalized Medicine with Dr. Karen Sutton, Orthopaedic Surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery

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How to Operationalize Personalized Medicine with Dr. Karen Sutton, Orthopaedic Surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery

Hey Outcomes Rocket friends, thanks for tuning in to the podcast once again. As a leader in health care, you have big ideas great products, a story to tell, and are looking for ways to improve your reach and scale your business. However there's one tiny problem. Health care is tough to navigate and the typical sales cycle is low. That's why you should consider starting your own podcast as part of your sales and marketing strategy. At the Outcomes Rocket, I've been able to reach thousands of people every single month that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to reach if I had not started my podcast. Having this organic reach enables me to get the feedback necessary to create a podcast that delivers value that you are looking for. And the same thing goes if you start a podcast for what you could learn from your customers. The best thing about podcasting in healthcare is that we are currently at the ground level, meaning that the number of people in healthcare listening to podcasts is small but growing rapidly. I put together a free checklist for you to check out the steps on what it takes to create your own podcast. You could find that at outcomesrocket.health/podcast. Check it out today and find a new way to leverage the sales, marketing and outcomes of your business. That's outcomesrocket.health/podcast.

Welcome back once again to the outcomes rocket podcast where we chat with the day's most successful and inspiring health leaders. Today I have a wonderful guest for you. Her name is Dr. Karen Sutton. She's an orthopedic surgery at a hospital for special surgery. She's got a lot of different hats. She's also an associate professor at Cornell Medical School. She's the head team physician for the U.S. lacrosse team the ladies team. She's a chief medical officer at the International federal lacrosse organization. She's a researcher, a mom of four, has worked with Peewee athletes all the way to the Boston Red Sox and Bruins. This lady is moving and shaking in health care and it's a pleasure to have her on the podcast. I want to give you a warm welcome, Karen. Thanks for joining us.

Thank you for having me.

It is a pleasure. So tell me is there anything that I missed in your intro that you want to tell the listeners about?

That one thing just to exaggerate on the position now with chief medical officer for the Federation of International across we're looking towards making lacrosse a more international and hopefully Olympic sport. So I really had the privilege to hit the ground running with that quest for the sport of lacrosse.

Outstanding Yeah I mean it definitely is a sport. Not sure why it's not in the Olympics yet. So I think it's a great endeavor for you. What's the...

We're moving it forward.

What would you say that time to make it happen is?

We're hoping maybe 2028 where the Olympics are going to be in Los Angeles. That's what we're shooting for.

Ah that would be awesome. That would be amazing.

Yeah I'd be thrilled.

Definitely wish you the best in those efforts and they pick the right woman for the job.

Thanks I appreciate it.

Absolutely. So Karen tell me a little bit about what got you into medicine to begin with.

Probably started from working with my dad when I was little and just learning to write. He was doing EKG and reviewing them as a cardiologist and I used to follow his lead and pretend to copy his writing even though not one word was eligible. From my standpoint I thought I was doing a good job as a junior cardiologist then.

Nice.

I followed the lead going into college where I majored in chemistry with a focus in biochemistry and enjoyed the research aspect of that. I started shadowing some doctors especially my father wanted me to shadow women surgeons to understand what the lifestyle is as a female versus male surgeon in the field because it's a lot more balancing from my perspective for sure. Then when I got into medical school I shadowed and mentored with an orthopedic surgeon named Dr. Morman who at the time was the team surgeon for the Ravens. So he was fantastic we wrote lacross research papers together. He really motivated me into the field of orthopedic surgery. And despite the fact that he was probably 6"5 and a few pounds heavier than I was he was convinced that orthopedic surgery was the way I should go. And I followed his take on that.

I love it. So it's just amazing right. I mean the influence that our mentors have growing in this field and fast forward to today. Sure he's very proud. Him and your father for all the things that you've done and so now you're here. Dr. Sutton what would you say a hot topic that needs to be an every medical leaders agenda today and how are you all approaching that?

I think a hot topic compared to maybe a decade or two ago is personalized medicine for patients. We're getting all of these data points on people whether it's genetic advanced imaging being able to put a puzzle piece together a lot better than we have in the past. The other thing is partnering with a lot of these wearable devices where we can get in real time what especially athletes are doing what's their average heart rate. How much are they exercising. You can even have them track their calories so you can get the energy they're using and the energy they're putting out and tailor some of your treatment to that scale.

Yeah that's a really really neat approach Kiran and you know we recently just did an interview with Keith. He's over at LRV Capital. He was talking about the digital front door of health care. And you know much like you mentioned this consumerism approach is definitely becoming the focus. Give us an example of how you and your practice or one of the organizations that you're part of have have enabled this.

One organization I work with so I used to work with the Yale athletes and we found a lot of stress fractures were happening on one of the teens with female athletes. So we needed to get some feedback in terms of how they were eating what were they doing on the field. And some of the trainers were able to track some of their nutrition and we realized that in terms of availability for their nutrition after practice there were limited resources so we start to get an odd blip in terms of what they were eating after practice and certainly stress fractures multifactorial. But if we can control at least the energy that they're taking in it will help to prevent progression have a stress fracture or even a stress fracture from starting. So we were actually able to work with the university to determine more cafeteria's more options for the athletes to eat after practice. And that was one way of dealing with just tracking nutrition and then how you can impact change after that.

That's pretty cool. So a lot of it came from what the girls were eating. So what were the results after they sort of changed their eating?

So looking at both eating as well as footwear I think that we noticed that they needed to have a lot more footwear options on the field you can't just wear cleats throughout her versus grass versus artificial turf as well. And everything has a different length and needs a different grip with the cleat. So once we changed cleats and then nutrition started to see a trend to where certainly decreased incidence of stress fractures.

That's awesome. Congratulations on making those tweaks to help the players be healthier and more productive on the field. That's a big win.

Yeah it's nice. It's always good when organizations who are very responsive to changes that need to happen.

Absolutely. Now tell us a time when things didn't work out something that you experienced a setback and what you learned from that.

The first thing that comes to mind is going from middle school and then playing volleyball in high school. One of the coaches of the volleyball team asked our gym teacher in middle school who are the best athletes who do you think could be recruited to play volleyball. So freshman year I went for the volleyball team made it and it just didn't seem to be my forte. I was setting which I did a fairly good job at but I had to take a step back and really assess my strengths and weaknesses because I felt like I wasn't really progressing as a volleyball player. One thing I do in many aspects of my life is try to get a 360 degree view of what's going on so I talked to the coach, I talked to the players. I just looked at different training techniques and I started realizing I'm much more of a sprinting athlete on the field pivoting cutting athlete. And so I was talking to some of the other coaches and then ended up switching over to field hockey. So I think a lot of us have to delve deep within ourselves and decide Is this the path that we're going down. How do you make the most of your talents as well and looking in life especially as you're driving your career even as you're driving your recreational activities making sure that you have those efficiencies that you're doing.

Karen, what a great example. And I think this is one thing that that applies as much on the field as to people's careers and businesses. And it's hard to make those decisions that hey you know what I've got to change what I'm doing. What kind of advice would you offer to the folks listening that are maybe in the middle of something that they know deep down inside. Hey you know I'm maybe not the best at is. How do they peeve it.

I think one thing is to take a step back. So we all want to just keep going going going and move forward and make a change possibly an irrational decision. So it's always important to have a quiet space. Start keeping a journal and I learned from Oprah always that we need to write down our immediate goals our short term our long term goals and our lifetime goals and start deciding is your life at that time really lining up with how those goals are forming. Fortunately and unfortunately I guess those changed throughout our life where your goal when you're 20 is definitely going to be different than your goal when you're 40. So one thing when I started out as a surgeon in your first couple years you're not as busy clinically so I had a few friends tell me words of advice to start sitting down and decide where you want to go with your career as a surgeon. One thing I always wanted to do was get back to the sport of lacrosse so I started looking into the options for being a team physician for the United States. And I talked to some of my connections and got some feedback how to get to that pathway. Then I reached out to us lacrosse and they ended up having a under 19 team that was going to Germany. And they asked if I would be willing and able to serve as the team physician for that team and I certainly jumped at the chance and have gone forward ever since with them.

That's awesome. What a great step by step process that you laid out here for the listeners Dr. Sutton and I think it's something that we definitely need to do more of. We tend to want to go go go without having to take a step back and step back getting clarity and like Karen said writing out your clear objectives will definitely help you navigate the system a lot better as well as your career. Tell us a little bit more about a time that you are the most proud of Karen something that happened in your medical leadership experience to date.

One thing was probably joining the hospital for special surgery staff Hospital for Special Surgery is the number one orthopedic hospital in the country. And I always thought in the back of my mind that it was someplace that I wanted to be they just really focus on patient care. It's an amazing experience when somebody walks in the door there from the person who greets you to the person who's walking into the operating room to of course the surgeon and the supporting staff around you. One of my mentors virtually I think she knows it now but she didn't know it back in the day because I was always following what she was doing with Dr. Joe Hannifin. She's a leader in the field of women's sports medicine and she was conducting all this research on ACL injury on female athletes she was the first to start a women's sports medicine program and she actually reached out to me last July and asked if I would join the HSA staff. And of course when you're mentor or your virtual mentor asks you to do that. It was something that I was extremely thrilled about and then to be able to be in the same building with her and pick her brain about different things that she's done and how she's treated athletes has really been a privilege for me.

That's so awesome. Karen and I just got goosebumps when I heard that. It's so cool to just kind of have that path be opened up for you. And just by being clear being intentional and working through it now you're here you're doing some amazing things at HSA as with what you're doing with the lacrosse team all the things that you're working on. What would you say one exciting project you're most excited about?

One thing that everybody's surprised that an orthopedic surgeon would do is I work on frozen shoulder and breast cancer patients. I started noticing early in my career that frozen shoulder was occurring in these patients who did not have the usual risk factors. Typically we see an association with diabetes a severe trauma or even a thyroid disorder. But these patients weren't checking any of those boxes. So looking into it and then talking to my colleagues who are also treat shoulder injuries I said Have you noticed anything with breast cancer patients in frozen shoulder. And then they picked a few patients that came to mind and I started looking reviewing my charts and they were all on a certain medication these aromatase inhibitors. Interesting in the back of my mind I started hypothesizing that potentially the aromatase inhibitor was causing some sort of increased fibrosis in the shoulder capsule and maybe that was causing them to have frozen shoulder. So I worked with a breast cancer nurse and we started doing first some background research on it and then clinical research to see where the association lies. Is it from the breast cancer surgery is it from the radiation the Axler or no dissection or could it be from this chemotherapeutic agent that these patients have to take.

That is fascinating. So it sounds like this is a project that is live and you guys are digging in.

Right. Right now we're looking more at the imaging behind it so trying to compare some of the breast cancer patients who are on a robot inhibitors to the more typical frozen shoulder patients such as the diabetic patient and seeing what the differences are there. And the main point behind it is people are living a lot longer with cancer and knock on wood hopefully doing a lot better with cancer. So not only do we want them to be in remission for their cancer and hopefully fully treated but during that time it's important to be active and have a wonderful lifestyle during that time too. So if a frozen shoulder is really aggravating somebody and they can't play with their grandchildren swim do their usual activities. I think that's still a key aspect to their lives.

That's such a great call out. And folks if you're listening to this and Dr. Suttons work sparks an interest or maybe an idea that you've had by all means at the end of the podcast here we're going to give you a place to reach out and collaborate on this project that she's working on. Dr. Sutton, let's pretend you and I are building medical leadership course on what it takes to be successful in medicine today. It's the 101 of Dr. Karen Sutton. We've got a syllabus we're going to build for the listeners lightning round style for questions followed by a book that you recommend to the listeners. You ready?

Ready.

Awesome. What's the best way to improve health care outcomes?

Avoid subjective measurements and try to get objective measurements as much as you can whether it's outcome scores wearable devices. Really get that feedback from the patient that doesn't just come from subjective discussions.

Love it. What's the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

Biggest pitfall is jumping to conclusions and seeing something from the surface without delving into the details of the subject or the issue at hand.

How do you stay relevant as a healthcare organization despite constant change?

I think it's important to look from a global perspective. So really getting yourself involved with international associations national associations getting out there and going to meetings whether that's virtually going or going in person and trying to challenge yourself by presenting your own research. And it really pushes you to drive change in your field.

Love that. And what's one area of focus that should drive everything in a health organization.

Patient satisfaction. I think we try to overthink all of these different ways. How should we make that are prettier or should we have better lives. Should the MRI work a little bit faster. But no matter what the goals for all of those achievements should be patient satisfaction.

Love that what book would you recommend to the listeners, Karen?

SO as a female orthopedic surgeon and there are only about 4 to 6 percent of us in the field as well as a mother of four. The Balance Project book is the first that comes to mind. The balance project is a book written by Susie Schnall and she did some background research in terms of interviewing professional women who are also mothers. And she went through a series of questions to see how do we actually get through the day. How can we balance parts of our lives or how don't we balance parts of our lives and then that segues into her book it says a fictional book too about how this woman balances her being a mother as well as a professional woman.

Outstanding. And as I've said before I do believe that it's going to take more women leaders in health care to make health care better. So check out that balance project folks. Great recommendation by Dr. Sutton here. Everything that we've discussed today including a transcript shows notes as links to the things that we've discussed these books are available. Go to outcomesrocket.health/Sutton You're going to find all that there. KAREN This has been so much fun. We've really talked about some really cool things improving outcomes and just staying focused. Can you share a closing thought with our listeners and then the best place where they can get in touch with you.

Sure. I would say one of my favorite quotes is look a challenge straight in the eye and give it a wink. I think that's always finding where you see this huge mountain that you need to climb over. But take it passed by path and if it has to be a windy trail then that's OK. People can reach me at Twitter @KSutt001 Instagram KarenSuttonMD. as well as at Hospital for Special Surgery You can look me up on their website.

Outstanding. Karen, has been fun listeners look at your challenge and give it a wink. Well great words to be left with here. This has been so much fun Dr. Sutton really appreciate you carving out time for us and looking forward to seeing what you do about these women Olympics the lacrosse team so we'll be staying in touch with these soon. Thanks for joining us.

Excellent thank you.

Hey Outcomes Rocket friends, thanks for tuning in to the podcast once again. As a leader in health care, you have big ideas great products, a story to tell, and are looking for ways to improve your reach and scale your business. However there's one tiny problem. Health care is tough to navigate and the typical sales cycle is low. That's why you should consider starting your own podcast as part of your sales and marketing strategy. At the Outcomes Rocket, I've been able to reach thousands of people every single month that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to reach if I had not started my podcast. Having this organic reach enables me to get the feedback necessary to create a podcast that delivers value that you are looking for. And the same thing goes if you start a podcast for what you could learn from your customers. The best thing about podcasting in healthcare is that we are currently at the ground level, meaning that the number of people in healthcare listening to podcasts is small but growing rapidly. I put together a free checklist for you to check out the steps on what it takes to create your own podcast. You could find that at outcomesrocket.health/podcast. Check it out today and find a new way to leverage the sales, marketing and outcomes of your business. That's outcomesrocket.health/podcast.

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Recommended Book:

The Balance Project: A Novel

Best Way to Contact Karen:

@KarenSuttonMD

@ksutt001

Mentioned Link:

https://www.hss.edu/

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