6 Top Takeaways from Health 2.0 for Healthcare Leaders

Janae Sharp
SEPTEMBER 25, 2018
health 2.0 himss,health 2.0 insights,health it conference,hca news

Leaders came to Health 2.0’s annual fall conference in California last week to learn. The message of the conference was aspirational and focused on the potential of healthcare to make major changes down the line. But healthcare leadership has some important technology decisions about its future to make today.

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Here are six takeaways from Health 2.0 that can help innovators and decision makers navigate the road ahead.

1. Discuss Healthcare’s Unmentionables

No one likes to have hard conversations. When people learn I have three children and ask what their father does, I consider my options: Sometimes I quickly say he passed away. I want to give space to respect if the other person has suffered loss. But sometimes I just want to move on in the conversation without having to say the word “suicide.”

In healthcare, there are many uncomfortable conversations we need to have about systemic discrimination. I was honored to join Robyn Simon and Paul Puri, M.D. on a panel about physician suicide. When my husband John — a physician — died by suicide, I was so angry about how people treated my children. They weren’t supported by the community with nearly as much love as I had hoped they would be. I wanted John’s family to be more involved in their lives, but I didn’t know how to have that conversation, and I wasn’t even sure if doing so would make things better for my kids.

This year, Health 2.0 featured Robyn Simon’s film, “Do No Harm,” about physician suicide and the culture of healthcare. The film forces us to ask these questions: Are we creating an emotionally healthy workforce for doctors? And are we perhaps avoiding dealing with the most difficult problems?

So many issues in healthcare, such as eating disorders, addiction and physician suicide, lie in a difficult space, forcing us to have conversations that are uncomfortable. But as a community, we don’t know how to start them. One of the things that healthcare leaders can learn from Health 2.0 is the importance of discussing topics that are “unmentionables.” Difficult conversations don’t have themselves.

2. Leadership Without an Agenda

On the Sunday evening of the conference, I was standing near the sushi table when I recognized Carla Smith, a HIMSS executive vice president involved with Women in Health IT event. She had a small plate with a few pieces of sushi on it. I noticed she didn’t eat what was on her plate as she came to join the small circle of healthcare startups that I was in, schmoozing. I watched how she networked: At the Startup Health event, she circulated through the crowd and asked attendees what they did and why. She approached a group called meiny mo, a Startup Health company, which is working on augmented reality medical solutions for children, and asked, “What are you passionate about?” Carla told them that she was there to learn from others. I saw her circulating through the crowd and asking for stories that night and later between sessions.

At Health 2.0, leadership from HIMSS and other organizations interacted in a more informal way than they have at other events I’ve attended. I enjoyed seeing Hal Wolff, president and CEO of HIMSS, connect with his new head of corporate messaging and meeting patients. At most conferences, leadership is very strategic about every minute of their time. The strategy of Heath 2.0 seemed to be listening.

There were so many leaders at Health 2.0 from Silicon Valley and healthcare investment. I was impressed with Wende Hutton from Canaan Partners, who has more than 20 years of experience in investing. I asked her why she attended, and she said that a key to leadership success is inviting the people whom you want to contribute to the table. Health 2.0 was full of leaders who wanted to learn. The leadership conversations not on the schedule are the most valuable part of a healthcare conference.

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