The Oscars are fast approaching, and that means everyone’s eyes are on the Best Picture race. These are the movies that most excited us this year, that captured our imaginations and showed us things we’d never seen before.
And, in some cases, these movies can teach us something, too.
With that in mind, here are some of the biggest heath IT lessons that the 2016 Best Picture nominees had to offer.
Mad Max: Fury Road: With his expertise in blood transfusions and car mechanics, it should come as no surprise that Mad Max has a lot to teach us about health IT. For one thing, the movie highlights the need to remain flexible and adaptive, and that’s just as true in health IT as it is in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Even the best-planned health IT initiatives will run into hiccups, and while they may not require a massive war party to resolve, you will need health IT professionals who can immediately address complications and surprises with unerring focus.
Mad Max:Fury Road also demonstrated the importance of knowing your limitations. When Max is faced with a difficult long-range rifle shot, he recognized that he should hand the weapon over to the steady-handed Imperator Furiosa, rather than take the shot himself. Similarly, for health care providers tackling complex health IT challenges, knowing when to entrust the work to a partner is key for success.
The Martian: Max may have some tech expertise, but he’s no match for Mark Watney. To survive on Mars, Watney had to become an innovation master. With his limited resources, Watney developed technical systems and strategies to tackle every aspect of survival. When it comes to health IT, you need to have the same comprehensive approach, and you need to make the most of your available assets. Are you getting the maximum utility out of your electronic health records (EHRs)? If not, you might need to follow Watney’s example and get creative.
Beyond that, The Martian exemplified the importance of communication. Health IT may not be quite as complicated as rescuing a stranded astronaut, but it’s still very complex. Success can only come when every stakeholder works together to achieve a shared goal.
Spotlight: Sometimes, getting to the heart of the matter takes a lot of digging. In Spotlight, that digging was conducted by Boston Globe journalists investigating the Catholic Church. In health IT, it will more likely involve IT pros investigating the health care provider’s systems for inefficiencies, oversights and new opportunities for improving performance. Are all employees actually making use of the health IT features available to them as intended, or are some failing to adhere to best practices? It won’t be obvious at first – you need to examine and analyze behavior and performance.
The Revenant: To get health IT right, you may need to get your hands dirty. Hopefully not as dirty as Leonardo DiCaprio becomes in The Revenant, but still. The fact of the matter is that health IT involves complex systems, and there’s a lot of potential for complications and headaches. Health IT professionals need to be able and willing to fight through the morass to resolve these problems, no matter what.
“To get health IT right, you may need to get your hands dirty.”
The Big Short: Sometimes, it can seem like the complete system is on the verge of disaster. In The Big Short, that system is the country’s housing market and credit bubble. For health care providers, it can be the health IT system as a whole. Whatever the reason or reasons as to why the situation reached this point, the goal needs to be to look ahead, not behind, and figure out how to make the most of the status quo.
Health IT professionals also need to be willing to heed warnings. If someone flags a potential problem, that issue should be addressed as soon as possible – not ignored, a la the banking elite in The Big Short.
Finally, it’s critical for health IT professionals to always make sure their priorities are in order. When you’re watching The Big Short, it’s easy to find yourself rooting for characters conducting some rather unsavory business. For health IT, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind, and the ultimate goal is always to improve patient care.
Brooklyn: Embracing a new health IT system can make health care providers feel uncertain, unmoored – much like Eilis Lacey, a recent immigrant to Brooklyn, felt. It may even be tempting to abandon the new changes and go back to an earlier system. However, if you keep your head down and move ahead, the upgrades will work out for the best in the end.
Bridge of Spies: Not everyone will immediately be on board with IT changes. Health IT pros will often need to act like negotiators, much like Tom Hanks’ James Donovan. And like Donovan, they’ll need to be steadfast as they do what’s right for the health care organization as a whole – even in the face of resistance.
Room: The current health IT system may seem satisfactory, but it’s important to remember that there’s a bigger world out there, one filled with greater possibilities. Don’t get trapped into accepting the status quo – always strive for more features, better performance and greater satisfaction.
The past year was a good one for film. Hopefully, this year will be just as good, both for the cinema and for your organization’s health IT efforts.