HIMSS 2012 Keynote Speaker Biz Stone Takeaways

HIMSS 2012 kicked off this morning with keynote speaker Biz Stone, best known as a co-founder of Twitter. Keynotes at these shows are always a mixed bag. While the presenters typically share interesting ideas, most don’t make the leap to healthcare.

Mr. Stone’s presentation followed this pattern exactly. So let’s take a moment to translate his seven assumptions for success into healthcare terms.

We can change the world, build a business and have fun.
You can’t get away with only two of the three. We’re ahead of the game in that the things we do genuinely change people’s lives. The other two are a challenge for many healthcare organizations. More than a few providers are losing money and those that are in the black are nervous about changing reimbursement models that threaten to pull the rug of profitability out from under them. More than a few provider organizations struggle with having fun as well. There’s a real need for organizations to re-energize their staffs, focus on a mission of change and have a little fun if we’re going to make it through the next few years intact.

We don’t always know what’s going to happen.
As an industry in flux, we need to come to terms with this. The long-cycle, predictable nature of healthcare is gone. One consequence here is that a lot of people in this industry who have a low tolerance for ambiguity and change will need to change their outlook or change their job.

On the other hand, when you embrace the uncertainty, then you can start building organizations capable of adapting to new realities and hedging for future risks. Organizations capable of doing this will be better prepared to succeed.

There is always a creative answer to every problem.
This is an area I think healthcare has traditionally been good. The place where we fail is that we don’t share those creative solutions. We’re forever recreating those solutions. We also often find creative solutions to symptoms rather than trying to identify the real problems.

There are more smart people outside our company than inside.
This was my favorite concept in the entire presentation. As an industry, we’ve made good progress here but we still often feel that healthcare shrugs off the successes of other industries in the belief that healthcare is very unique. Let’s find ways to use innovation from wherever they might originate.

We will win if we always do the right thing for our users.
This is one of those standard Silicon Valley aphorisms that’s tough to translate to healthcare. For the most part, the stakeholders in healthcare are all trying to do this. We go above and beyond, take heroic measures and perform millions of dollars in charity care. The problem is that we can’t agree what’s best for the patient and are unable to have some of the difficult conversations about when treatment is unlikely to add quality or quantity of life to our patients.

The only deal worth doing is a win-win deal.
I’m excited that, as an industry, we’re trying to find new solutions that allow us to provide good healthcare to more people, improve quality and manage the growth in costs. This is ultimately the big win-win on the horizon. Along that path, there are lots of entities that are trying to maximize their slice of the pie. Everyone involved needs to stay vigilant to keep the process a win-win.

Your co-workers are smart and they have good intentions.
We need to engage everyone in the process of change and in the process of care. Everyone at the hospital contributes to what the organization accomplishes, but they need to be empowered to help the organization reach its potential.

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Ben Dillon

About Ben Dillon

Ben’s a big picture type of guy. He loves sharing new ideas in digital marketing, keeping a watchful eye on healthcare industry trends and seeing how it all intersects. A sought-after speaker, writer, blogger and current SHSMD board member, Ben’s an influential voice in healthcare marketing, helping organizations across the country embrace online strategies to engage health consumers. Combine his industry savvy with his background in software development and you can see why he’s also an important member of Geonetric’s software team, ensuring our content management system stays a step ahead of market needs. Ben holds a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. When he’s not traveling and evangelizing, Ben enjoys cooking with his family and playing the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

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