Thursday, March 10, 2011

Working with the Media

Throughout my adult life, I've had many opportunities to speak with television, radio, and print journalists.   I may not always receive good press, but I almost always receive balanced press.  

I've learned several lessons along the way

-It's important not to endorse any product or service.   I'm always careful to present my experience in the context of a case study or objective observation.   I avoid conflicts of interest by never accepting gifts, travel, or meals from vendors.

-It's important to speak as an individual and not as an organizational representative.   I remove my badges and eliminate any organizational logos from the visual field.    I emphasize that my comments are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of any corporation I work for.

-It's important to speak clearly, succinctly, and deliver an unambiguous message.   Everyone should be able to understand a 30 second elevator speech about the technology I'm discussing.

-It's important to use personal stories, analogies, and lay language.   I often describe my own experience with healthcare and the ways technology would improve my wellness or my family's care coordination.

-It's important to give honest answers.  Occasionally, reporters have an agenda and try to put words in your mouth.   State your beliefs without being led to a conclusion by redirecting a bad question into an relevant, thoughtful answer.

In the recent iPad2 release (I'm at 11 minutes 44 seconds into the presentation), here are the points I conveyed:

I have watched clinicians (including myself) using tablet style devices.   They enhance clinician productivity because of their portability (they fit in a white coat pocket), long battery life, and ease of disinfection (alcohol wipes on the screen do not damage the display).   They untether clinicians from laptops and carts, are easy to read, and provide the high definition graphics needed for clinical imaging interpretation.

The nature of the form factor makes it easier than laptops for clinicians to share medical information with patients (such as explaining conditions by retrieving images), improving communications.

My quotes were

 “Sometimes doctors are overwhelmed with data. What we’ve tried to do on the iPad is to give doctors at the point of care the tools they need at the exact moment the doctor can make the difference.”

“We’re finding with the iPad that doctors are spending more time with patients. In fact, doctors are engaging patients by showing them images, showing them data on the screen. So it’s empowered doctors to be more productive, and it’s also brought doctors and patients together.”

Some have called this an endorsement.   I've followed my own guidelines and described my experience using the device and the behavior of other clinicians I've observed .   I did not describe any plan to purchase the devices, nor have I ever received any free iPad products or services.

In a world of YouTube, social media, and blogging, everything I do and say should be considered public.   Hopefully, by following my own moral compass and my guidelines for working with the media, I can share my experiences for the benefit of all without compromising my own objectivity.


Tomcat said...

"Everyone should be able to understand a 30 second elevator speech about the technology I'm discussing."

At one Fortune 500 company for which I worked in R&D, we used to say "explain it so that even a manager can understand it."

Suki Tsui said...

Today two New York legislators and six others, including two hospital executives, were charged in an alleged bribery scheme. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a news conference that no matter how often the alarm goes off, Albany hits the "snooze button." and "We are still up to our eyeballs with corruption."

Living in time like this, it is hard not to question where our values, morals and ethics stand as a society. Our principles and standards that govern our conduct and behavior are losing ground. More individuals (especially high-ranking public officials and influential C-level executives) are craving for personal gain rather than looking after the public interest and serving the public ethically and professionally.

Thanks for sharing with us your experience with the media. I can see how it could have been a controversial and sensitive subject for you since the iPad2 ad was released. I do believe that by setting an example and talking about your professional ethics openly and honestly you are encouraging others to either join you on a higher moral platform or look up to you.

Melanie said...

There's a difference between promoting a technology - in this case, mobile computing - and endorsing a product or vendor. I believe your participation falls under the former, as your quotes simply state the benefits of mobility in improving quality of care. Cool opportunity!