Terry Edwards

HIMSS 2015: The power of conversation

By Terry Edwards  /  15 Apr 2015

As I walked down aisle after aisle at HIMSS, I saw solution after solution for better patient engagement and to help health systems tackle things such as ICD-10. This didn’t surprise me because while it may take healthcare a long time to catch on to things, once we do it, we do it big. But I think what we’re all missing, and this was reinforced in many ways over the last few weeks, is that technology is really just an enabler, it’s not the end-all be-all. We need to remember – it’s the people, the interactions, the human contact and sharing of ideas (supported by technology, of course!) that will really make a difference.

We conducted a recent survey about clinical communications which showed how various technologies – from telemedicine to patient portals – really have not solved healthcare’s main goal, to improve population health and better care coordination. It’s really the face-to-face interaction and real-time collaboration that will get us there.











I was reminded of this while at HIMSS. I presented at the Mobile Health Knowledge Center and discussed how to navigate clinical communications for effective population health management. After the talk, I was reminded of the role of human interaction in my own world. Following the presentation, a new face asked a question to learn about physician adoption and several people came over to me to ask more detailed questions, introduce a colleague or just say hi. These conversations would never be initiated in regular day-to-day activities, yet they foster and grow relationships, and, more importantly, help solve problems.

Communication can be complicated, and that’s magnified in healthcare. Every patient is unique and technology can’t replace intuition. Patient care doesn’t have a formulaic solution like banking or other industries. We’re all pulled in so many directions and have many devices vying for our attention. However, at times a face-to-face conversation is needed, where people can provide their undivided attention to help tackle an issue. I can only imagine how critical this is with clinicians, who deal with urgent patient care all day.

In-person conversations hold a valuable place in making professional and personal connections, and industry events, such as HIMSS, are a great reminder of the importance of putting a face with a name. What connections have you made today?

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