Introduction to Peak Performance

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There have been numerous advances in medicine and healthcare over time.  What is the next frontier to develop in order to benefit both patients and providers?  How can both the patient and provider experience be improved?

The provision of healthcare has evolved over time.  In the patient care realm, research is performed which leads to a better understanding of disease and the impact of treatments.  This information is then used to improve outcomes.  The paradigm is one in which information is obtained, interpreted, and applied.  It only follows that such a paradigm should be applied to all available fields of study and would also benefit the providers of these treatments.

Optimization of human performance has led to dramatic advances in what can be accomplished.  From breaking the 4 minute mile to even more extreme achievements, like the Red Bull Stratos project, where Felix Baumgartner jumped from space, at an altitude over 128,000 feet reaching peak speeds of over 700 miles per hour, attainment of peak performance in other domains has lead to previously unobtainable accomplishments.  Why can’t this be true within the healthcare system as well?

The evolving understanding of the determinants of peak performance provides the opportunity to incorporate these concepts into the healthcare system.  For patients, this results from using all available methods to enhance wellbeing prior to illness and, when disease occurs, to optimize outcome and quality of life during and following treatment.  For healthcare professionals, this means learning to maximize human ability and harness these traits to promote optimal performance.  Peak provider performance can lead to direct benefits to both the patient and the provider.  Patients can benefit from more connected interactions with their providers as well as better decision making, selection of treatments, and provision of those treatments.  Healthcare providers can benefit from the fulfilment that comes from working at peak performance, improved job satisfaction, as well decreased risk of burnout, a current epidemic within the profession.

As professionals in numerous sports, businesses, and technology settings have utilized developing knowledge to optimize our neurobiology, neurochemistry, neurophysiology, and psychology to obtain previously unimaginable levels of performance, so to can patient and providers.  In a healthcare setting, the achievement of this goal will lead not only to enhanced job satisfaction and decreased burnout amongst providers but will translate to optimal patient wellbeing.  Given the ubiquitous nature of healthcare, this can potentially impact everyone on the planet.  The paradigm of obtaining information, interpreting the data, and then applying the data holds true in this domain as it does in others.

Reaching this state of optimal human performance requires combining several related components: mindset and psychology, sleep and recovery, nutrition, and accessing flow, the maximal state for achievement.  Research in each of these areas has led to improved understanding of the relevant biology, physiology, and psychology inherent within each realm and to methods for training these states.

In future issues of this blog, these principles will be explored in further detail.

For those interested in learning more about optimization of peak performance for patients and healthcare providers, please visit for more information.

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Recommended References

Brewer J.  The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smart-Phones to Love- Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits.  Yale University Press, New Haven, 2017.

Ericsson A, Pool R.  Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2016.

Fatigue Science.  The Science of Sleep and Workplace Fatigue.

Gervais, M.  The Finding Mastery Podcast.

Goleman D, Davidson RJ.  Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body.  Avery, New York, 2017.

Kabat-Zinn J.  Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness.  Bantam Books, New York, 1990, 2013.

Kotler S.  Flow and Peak Performance.

Kotler S.  The Rise of Superman: Decoding The Science of Ultimate Human Performance.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2014.

Kotler S, Wheal J.  Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, The Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work.  Harper Collins, New York, 2017

Stulberg B, Magness S.  Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, And Thrive With The New Science of Success.  Rodale, New York, 2017.

Walker, M.  Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.  Scribner, New York, 2017.

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