Liveblog HIMSS12 Opening Keynote: Biz Stone

8:00am: Biz Stone was introduced by the HIMSS board Chair, Charlene S. Underwood, who first gave an overview of the accomplishments of HIMSS and commented on the increasing workload that health IT professionals are facing (to a round of applause and agreement from the delegates!). She also highlighted the recent announcement of $3.1 billion of meaningful use payment, the ICD-10 playbook that HIMSS has put together and gave a plug for mHIMSS.

8:30am: Biz gave a brief history of Twitter: they started off with the idea of sending out MP3s on RSS feeds at Odeo - but as Apple had just started with podcasting through iTunes, they decided to change their strategy! In 2006, mobile phone texting (which was already popular in Europe) was just taking off in the US. Their idea was to use a website to broadcasts text updates to followers who have registered on the site. The main critique at the time was that "Twitter was not useful!". Twitter's reply was "Nor is ice-cream,... or joy!".

8:45am: Biz says the take off moment for Twitter was in 2007 at the SXSW event. Biz could see people at the event using Twitter - for finding which lectures were best to attend and which pub to go to for a quiet chat. He saw the attendees behaving like a "flock of birds" with people "swarming" based on how tweets were propagated through groups of friends and their followers. After the conference, they decided to incorporate the company.

9.00am: Biz says he learned how "opportunity can be manufactured" through his experience starting a lacrosse team at school in response to his lack of understanding of the rules of basketball. Biz studied graphic design at college and worked for a publishing company where he learned how "creativity is a renewable resource" - there are endless options in creative tasks.

9.15am: Biz then talked about how he's learnt that "there is compound interest in altruism" - small companies should start early by aligned with causes that are important to them. He finished by saying we should assume that we can change the world, build a business and have fun - without all three, a business can't succeed.

9.30am: Question time!

Biz says that social media generally (not just twitter) can help in healthcare by simply being another channel of communication. Reading updates from other people helps bring people together. Tools such as Fitbit give more ownership of your health, and give a better sense of knowledge and awareness about yourself. Data from wearable computers can also be shared through social media - he has a scale that sends his weight out to the internet to share with his friends who are also trying to stay healthy. He thinks that the stream of health information would be useful for doctors and healthcare professionals to have access to.

Asked about inequalities in access to technology, Biz replied "When we create technology of a global nature, we have to take into account the lower technological capacity in developing countries." One of the reasons for the 140 character limit was the global 160 character text limit for mobile phone networks. He says products should be able to "degrade gracefully" and companies should build technology that works on the lowest common denominator.

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Comment by Bob Hoyt on February 23, 2012 at 4:36am

Initially, I didn't know what to think about Biz' presentation but it was nice to hear a non-techie talk about innovation and helping humanity. There was no hype, just the hope that social media will help patients. His talk also confirmed what I am hearing from different directions; to be successful in health information technology it requires many skills, to include good people skills, organizational skills and some vision. It's not all about IT. For example, I spoke to a recruiter who does live auditions to see how people react to tough questions because they might handle irate physicians who are adopting new technologies.

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