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Health IT at SXSW – What Can Healthcare Learn?

Posted on March 14, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It’s been fun to watch the evolution of healthcare at SXSW. When I first went 4 years ago (wow, I can’t believe that was 4 years ago), healthcare was just trying to find its place in the mass of a conference that is SXSW. I was one of the judges for the health IT startup pitch competition and healthcare had graduated to having its own campus at SXSW. However, the sessions were pretty light and there weren’t that many of the people you’d expect in healthcare IT to be there.

4 years later, some of the people you’d really want at the event aren’t there, but some very interesting startup healthcare IT companies are at the event. Plus, thanks to things like IoT (Internet of Things) and the interest in wearables, SXSW has done a good job featuring many of the health tech startup companies which fit into those larger trends. In fact, health is often one of the biggest parts of these larger trends.

There are so many healthcare IT conferences out there to choose from so I understand why many in healthcare don’t venture to the insanity that is SXSW. Plus, I think that it’s hard for many in healthcare to realize that SXSW is more than just a music festival (something that’s not been true for a long time) and more importantly to convince their bosses that they’re not just going to Austin to have fun.

I personally think that some of the ethos and culture of SXSW are what’s needed in healthcare. One of the key experiences that SXSW tries to cultivate is the mixing of various creative cultures in order to spark new and surprising creativity. That means that sometimes a tech startup entrepreneur will be spending time with a musician or film executive. This mixing of cultures can lead each person to surprising new insights into their business. The startup entrepreneur might find a new way to attract an audience for their product based on something the musician does to spread his music. The musician might learn about new tech that could create new layers to their music from the startup entrepreneur. You get the idea.

Healthcare could benefit from some outside influence. Just to be clear. This doesn’t mean that you throw out the culture that you know. Definitely not. It does mean you get exposure to another culture that can help expand your thinking. Over time we all get somewhat narrow minded in our thinking. Exposure to new ideas helps to expand our minds.

The same is even true within different departments in healthcare. How often does your lab interact with radiology or radiology with your ED or your pharmacy with your clinicians? If you work in a hospital you know what I’m talking about. We get stuck in our ruts and often don’t leave them. It’s nice and comfortable in our ruts and so we don’t see why we should leave them. That’s poison to an organization that wants to innovate. Take a lesson from SXSW and cultivate experiences and opportunities for different cultures to mix and learn from each others unique perspectives and experiences.

Fitting the Failure Glorified IT World Into the Failure Free Healthcare World

Posted on September 2, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As most readers know, I’m a tech person by background (and literally @techguy on Twitter). It’s fair to say that I come from a tech perspective when it comes to dealing with most things in life. However, I think I’m a very reasonable tech person that understands the best solution to a problem and applies it appropriately. I’ve always loved people as much as I’ve loved tech.

I feel lucky that I’m usually able to bridge the divide between the two different worlds quite well. In fact, my favorite compliment I get is when people who’ve read my blog forever meet me in person and learn that I’m not a doctor. I’m definitely not a doctor, but I’ve always tried to write from a physician perspective. However, what is very clear to me is that the IT perspective on the world and the Healthcare perspective on the world are very different. In fact, it’s very much a clash of cultures.

The best example I’ve seen of this is in how each of these worlds (IT and Healthcare) approach failure. In the technology world, there is a culture that glorifies failure. The idea that you tried something and failed means that you’re that much closer to a solution. The tech world doesn’t see it as failure at all. The so called “failure” is just a way to rule out one of the available options. This is even true for tech startup companies. Having a failed tech startup company is almost a badge of honor that will help you get more funding for your next company.

On the other side of the world is the healthcare world which has a culture defined by their efforts to make sure that they never fail. While that’s not achievable, that’s their goal in everything they do. Look at the medical device industry regulation as a simple example of this. Look at how doctors take care of patients. As a patient, I want my doctor to try every way possible to make sure they don’t fail. The cost of failure in healthcare can mean someone loses their life. This is not something to take lightly and I’m glad that most in healthcare don’t take it lightly.

Thus we have this amazing clash of cultures. One that glorifies failure as part of the learning process and another that has deeply embedded that failure is unacceptable. You see this in every large healthcare organization. You see it even more when a young tech startup company tries to enter healthcare. It’s why so many of these young startup health companies fail to gain any traction in hospitals and healthcare.

What’s the solution? There is no easy solution. Changing culture is never a simple or quick process. However, both sides can learn from each other. The key is that we need to move away from an all or nothing approach to failure and move to a much more nuanced view of failure. Healthcare leaders need to realize that not all failure is bad, even in healthcare. Yes, there are some times when failure can never, ever be acceptable. However, there are plenty of other times where failure will not only not do any major damage, but will be an important step towards learning and growing. On the other side of the coin, tech people need to realize when something they’re doing in healthcare can not fail and realize there are plenty of situations where this is a requirement in healthcare.

Much like privacy, it’s not that avoiding failure isn’t important in healthcare. It’s extremely important, but we need to have a more nuanced and sophisticated view of when it’s important. This is not an easy balance, but not doing so will cause us to miss out on so many needed opportunities. The good part is that a great leader will have the tech people pulling for more failure and the medical people pulling for more reliability and security. We just need to bring the two together.

An Image Worth 1000 Words Offers a Great Healthcare Perspective

Posted on August 20, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I have no idea where this picture comes from, but it’s a pretty interesting look into some of the history of medicine. As @notasmedicina points out, it’s pretty disturbing to see them working on someone without gloves. Take a look below to see what I mean.

As I saw this, I thought about how far we’ve come with EHR software. I wonder if 20-30 years from now we’ll look at a picture of a paper chart and feel disturbed. I imagine my children will look at it and wonder how a doctor could practice medicine with a paper chart.