TCOM alum’s high-pressure pitch earns innovation award


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Theme music played. The lights were bright. And Cole Zanetti, DO, (TCOM ’11) faced 100 people in the pressure-cooker that was the Harvard Medical School auditorium.

He had five minutes to pitch a proposal – then face judges’ questions – as part of the Primary Care Innovation Challenge, a contest modeled after the ABC reality show for aspiring entrepreneurs, Shark Tank.

"It was kind of scary," Dr. Zanetti said, laughing. "But also really exhilarating."

When it was over, Dr. Zanetti was awarded the American College of Physicians’ Primary Care Innovation Award for his proposal that judges’ said best "promoted the practice of high-value care." Dr. Zanetti will next share his plan, Positive Deviances as a Value-Based Approach to Patient Engagement, at the college’s annual meeting.

His proposal focused on engaging high-risk patient populations in communities that do a good job , despite the factors against them, of managing their diseases. Dr. Zanetti calls for peer-to-peer learning that teaches patients who overutilize medical resources, such as emergency rooms, to pursue better health outcomes at a reduced cost.

Dr. Zanetti, a Leadership Preventive Medicine Resident at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center at Concord Hospital, was one of six contest finalists selected out of 53 national entries. He was the only DO invited to Boston.

"That was great because a lot of the new research on innovative primary care is coming out of the field of osteopathic medicine," Dr. Zanetti said. "It was fun to share my ideas and be surrounded by so many leaders  who are rethinking primary care."

As part of the award, Dr. Zanetti also will be invited to the Family Medicine Education Consortium to develop his project.

"It was an exciting night and I am confident that this is just the beginning of spreading a message about using the positive deviance approach to help change health care, one community at a time," Dr. Zanetti said.

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