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Home » General » “If fire were invented today”: empower the young

In my May 5 keynote at the ICSI / IHI Colloquium, one of my slides said “Empower the young.” It cited David Blumenthal MD, National Coordinator for health IT at the Dept of Health & Human Services.

I’d recently heard him say, “At Massachusetts General I had to get into IT, to keep up with my younger colleagues.” This reminded me that although many established doctors whine (yes whine) “I ain’t doin email with patients until there’s a billing code for it,” you never hear a new resident say that.

I say, as long as we let the establishment set policy, we’re doomed to live in the 20th century.

Two years ago I attended a Boston entrepreneurs conference where our e-patient colleague John Lester (@Pathfinder), then of SecondLife, said something I love:

“If fire were invented today, there’s no way it would get on the market. You’d have to say ‘okay, we won’t make it too hot, and we’ll add warning labels…’ If you’d told someone 200 years ago that we’d be roaming around in these things called ‘cars’ that have hundreds of little controlled explosions of fire every minute, they’d think you’re crazy.”

Amen, bro. Things that seem impractical today may only seem that way because we’re all two generations too young!

Let’s empower the young: disregard our crusty view of how things work, and see what vision can emerge from the unencrusted.