Empathy for patients AND doctors

PUBLISHED ON  March 12, 2014

WRITTEN BY  Roni Zeiger

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We all know our health care system doesn’t work very well and that it often harms patients. A more subtle point is that for the same reasons, it harms doctors, who came to the profession to do more than they’re typically able to. We can talk about this so that patients and doctors have more empathy for each other.

Empathy is a key requirement for design thinking. Mutual empathy may be a formula for various kinds of collaborative design, but I can’t imagine a more important example than patients and doctors designing better health care together. Maybe an equally important example: patients and researchers better understanding each other and designing better research together. (Thank you Michael Seid for accidentally explaining this to me.)

Gratitude

PUBLISHED ON  February 11, 2014

WRITTEN BY  Roni Zeiger

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Last night, my wife and I took extra long looks at our children as we watched them sleep before heading to bed ourselves. They looked more fragile, precious, so much younger in their sweet sleep. We talked about how grateful we are for them. We breathed deep as we smelled their heads when sneaking in a last kiss good night.

This morning I read a mother’s painful words: “What can you do so we don’t lose him?

I am more grateful for what we have in this world, and driven to more effectively connect us and the knowledge we need to answer her question.

When Super Power Meets Super Passion

PUBLISHED ON  January 27, 2014

WRITTEN BY  Roni Zeiger

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It’s not only fun to talk about super powers, it’s useful. A recent post by Susannah Fox thoughtfully suggests that all of us have a super power in our networks, our communities. Here let’s explore a more traditional (!) notion of superpowers. Each of us has one and perhaps our most important professional responsibility is to identify ours and nurture it.

Deservedly or not, I get questions from many individuals and startups in the health technology world asking me for advice. I’m starting to think that the answer is usually that you must find your super power and your super passion.

To health professionals or students asking for career advice, I try to explain that the secret is to do whatever it takes to follow your passion. Without passion, no job will be will be impactful (or fun) for a sustained period of time. And take a step back to consider: what a privilege to be living in arguably the first time in history when so many of us can choose what we do for a living.

To startups I ask, what problem can you solve better than anyone else can? There are other requirements for a successful business — e.g., are you solving a problem that someone really wants solved, will someone pay for it, is your solution better than currently available solution(s), can you maintain a competitive advantage — but if someone else can do it better, why bother?

We can synthesize the advice to the individual and the startup by saying that each of us, personally and as organizations, should be doing what we are most passionate about and what we can do better than anyone else. What if teachers sought to identify every student’s super power, and curricula were flexible enough to let students learn in the context of their evolving passions? What if continuing medical education included feedback from patients that helped clinicians hone their super power? What if health care delivery systems supported collaboration among clinicians that allowed them to complement each other’s super powers and super passions? What if funders of research and funders of companies sought to maximize the number of people and organizations using their super power to pursue their super passion?

What’s your super power? What’s your super passion?