I was drawn in by the title of this blog post on The Healthcare Blog: Online Won’t Ever Replace Face-to-Face. Or Will It? It’s a powerful question and we all know the answer to the question is no, we won’t ever replace face to face interaction. Although, the title seems to indicate that it should be an either or proposition. From my experience, not only does online not replace Face-to-Face interaction, but it enhances it in really dramatic and beautiful ways.
A simple example of this happened yesterday. I was downtown filing some paperwork for my business at the county clerk’s office. As I was waiting for the paperwork to be processed, I got a tweet from someone saying they were in Las Vegas and would love to meet. I checked out his profile and didn’t recognize the name, but it said the magic words “healthcare startup” and so I was intrigued.
I quickly sent him a direct message on Twitter that I was in downtown Las Vegas and gave him my number if he wanted to connect while I was downtown. By the time I walked to my car I had a text from him saying he was 2 minutes away. So, I called him and we planned to meet at the local coffee shop where we had a nice 1-2 hour chat about healthcare startups.
Without technology I would have never known that Pete Kane was 2 minutes away from me, and I would have never learned about the amazing work he’s doing bringing together the Healthcare IT startup scene in Minnesota. He made me want to visit Minneapolis despite my current attempts to avoid traveling.
Turns out in the article linked above Katherine Leon realizes the same thing. Technology doesn’t get in the way of Face-to-Face meetings. It enables and enhances the face to face meetings. In fact, technology makes many more face to face meetings possible.
One thing I’ve found recently is that so many people are starving for social interaction in a community of peers. Many people blame technology for this and no doubt a generation of couch potatoes doesn’t help. However, even TV, video games, online interactions are all becoming very social experiences. These social interactions lead to offline interactions.
One of the greatest powers of the internet is its ability to bring together peer groups. We see this for every healthcare disease. We see this in the #HITsm and #HCsm communities. My best memories from those communities isn’t the online chats or watching that hashtag. It was the offline meetups that were facilitated by the technology.
Healthcare as much as any other industry can benefit from these connections. Plus, we’re just getting started with connecting people. Indeed, the online interactions won’t replace Face-to-Face interactions, but instead will dramatically enhance our offline connections to people.