“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
― Albert Einstein
TEDMED is a different kind of gathering – unlike a traditional conference, where you are tasked to learn specific things, or a trade show, where you are asked to learn about new products and make connections. At TEDMED, we were asked to think collaboratively – to listen to stories about how curiosity, frustration, or life events inspired individuals to look a little differently at the problems they were facing and imagine a new solution. This is how we began our conversation at TEDMED 2014, a conference that focuses on the intersection of Technology, Entertainment, and Design, as it pertains to healthcare. Over the course of three days, 80 speakers shared their stories from two stages, with approximately 1600 delegates in person and thousands more around the world watching the event via live feed.
Steven Hawking once said, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” It takes a certain amount of courage and vulnerability to approach the world and your work with the mindset that you do not know everything – fostering a mindset like this one can be both liberating and empowering. My co-workers consist of an incredible array of experts – developers, nurses, process and product experts. We are lucky enough to work for a company that embraces the idea that it is not our knowledge that sets us apart. Our knowledge, combined with the notion that we all have the ability to perpetually learn and share, is what sets us apart. Imagination is a part of our culture, and it is a critical tool we use to make the leap from implementing a product, to engaging in processes that helps us discover what a client needs in a product to best meet their goals.
Spending three days at TEDMED, I met a neurologist who teaches communication skills to medical providers, a woman who transforms prosthetic devices into works of art, a man who custom builds workspaces for medical providers, a cardiologist who has written about things human medicine can learn from veterinary medicine, and finally a college drop-out who has built a new, efficient, painless, and cost-effective way to approach lab tests. Everyone that I met had one thing in common – at some point in their work life, they thought “There has to be a better way…”
In my daily work, I engage with System Administrators and Super-Users to ensure that their electronic medical record system is and will continue to work effectively for the end users in the future. My work requires that I remain nimble as changes in legislation and software happen often. Implementations, conversions, optimizations, and custom solutions do not just require experts – they require imagination. We have to look creatively at each challenge presented to us in order to come up with the best solution for the client that we are working with. To step out of my world for a few days and sit with scholars, inventors, and thought leaders was indeed a privilege. In another way, it was like coming home.