Everyone who knows my writing can attest that I neither pull punches nor play politics. It may distress people, and hopefully it won’t harbinger my demise. But as CEO of a young firm bringing overdue innovations to the Fire and Emergency Medical Services industry, there are only four groups to whom I am duty-bound: our partner-clients, their patients, our team members, and our investors (in no specific order). To remain mum on topics that could affect the physical or financial health and wellbeing of any of these parties would be a disservice.
When I was in the magazine business, I often used the phrase “Respect the medium.” The meaning was simple: when every industry player surfing the waves of innovation is trying something new, how many are asking whether the form is appropriate to the intended function? What changes need to be made to magazine’s font so its text can be read clearly on a small, backlit screen? What interactivity can be embedded into a digitally delivered? How will the user’s experience change when network access is down? (In February 2012, I wrote about these topics for Electronic Design Magazine.)
Failure to ask these questions is often the downfall of the delivery method: either the medium changes or its use declines; rarely do customers acclimate. In the publishing world, if your readers ignore you, you go away—no lasting harm or foul. Not so in healthcare or public safety. Especially during emergencies, if a product fails to work as intended—or to work at all—it can mean lost productivity, mountainous legal fees, brain death, or loss of life, limb and property.
Healthcare IT offers outsized benefits to Emergency Response teams, which depend on speed, ease of training and use, data accuracy, and interoperability. But the stakes of failure or disruption are so high that one can say there are few areas of development with a more desperate need for criticism.