Growing Up in Digital

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Sara Saldoff and I lead the digital team for OhioHealth, not-for-profit system of hospitals and healthcare providers. I joined OhioHealth two years ago from the agency world. It took a bit of convincing cause, let’s face it, healthcare isn’t really known for it’s amazing digital experiences and customer-centric approach, but my colleagues at OhioHealth helped change my mind. They wanted to change healthcare – still do. Working for OhioHealth was my opportunity to make an impact. While I would never be on the front lines saving lives, I could be making experiences better for patients.

When the opportunity came to join the Isobar team in San Francisco for the WIRED25, I leapt at the chance. I grew up in digital and to see the titans of the industry in person was something I couldn’t turn down. So what did I learn?

Humanity above all else.

There was a lot of talk about what technology has brought to us in this so-called 4th industrial revolution, but also what it has taken away. Jeff Bezos noted that with the invention of every technology there is always a good and bad. This got me thinking. As we spend more time looking down into small shiny devices, we’ve gained new ways to communicate, found social platforms for sharing, and expanded our global economy. But, somewhere along the line we started to lose our humanity. We’ve forgotten how to talk to people with different views. Jack Dorsey accepts part of the blame for filter bubbles and allowing, even encouraging, people to exist only in a world that reinforces their own ideas and thoughts. Jony Ive talked about how Apple is designing stores as places for people to gather, to encourage community. Perhaps that’s the price Apple feels it needs to pay for its role in the shiny devices? Technology has brought us so much, but we can’t let it change who we are. As we build new experiences let’s all think about how we keep our humanity entact, how we build community, and how we encourage acceptance and conversation.

Solve the right problem.

Kevin Systrom, the former CEO of Instagram, said we have to stop the hackathon culture and have to start solving problems people actually have. If you solve for real problems then you don’t waste time and resources. This is something we talk a lot about at OhioHealth — we value rich discovery from our UX teams that help us identify friction points and allow us to create elegant solutions to solve them. Imagine what would happen if everyone started working on real problems and not just cool features. Shiny and new is fun and exciting, but if it’s not making something better, is it worth it?

The customer will be in control.

Systrom also mentioned giving people more control over their experiences. At Instagram this comes in the form of being able to delete and turn off comments. But, what does this look like in healthcare — a typical experience where most customers feel completely out of control? Imagine a world where you control your health record, where you share your data with companies (23andMe already has this figured out), and even get paid for your data. Imagine unlocking data silos from the technology titans and giving control back to the customer. And don’t even get me started on blockchain. The technology is still young, but distributed networks will help drive the change.

Gen Z will save us.

It’s obvious that there are big problems in the world, but if Jiwoo Lee is any indication, the younger generation is well poised to solve them. Lee is a 19 year student at Stanford who has been using CRISPR to fix genetic mutations that cause disease. The next generation is impressive. Embrace them.

Innovation can take root anywhere.

Keller Rinaudo,  CEO of Zipline, wowed me. As someone who is working on problems related to healthcare and access, I love that instead of dealing with problems on the ground, his drone delivery company took to the air. Delivering life saving blood and eliminating an access problem for an entire country. One thing that stuck with me was the notion that people often think that the problems in healthcare will be fixed in first world countries, but, in reality, the partnership with the Rwandan government allowed for the innovation to take root and flourish. So what’s the message for us? Move to the unexpected places and think about partnership between government and the private sector. The innovation may lie with the private sector, but governments have scale. Who would have thought a drone company would be the key piece to providing universal access to healthcare in Rwanda?

It’s safe to say the four day conference left me inspired and excited to see what’s next.  There is so much room for innovation and opportunity to leverage technology to change the world for better.  Now, it’s time to get started…

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