What Can We Learn from Robin Williams

Posted on August 12, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

“You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I’ll guarantee you’ll win.” – Robin Williams

One of the best quotes from the amazing movie Patch Adams. Maybe it was naive of me, but when I got my first job in healthcare I thought a lot about the movie Patch Adams. Besides being a great movie, it illustrated so well the impact great healthcare can have on people’s lives.

I realize that as an IT person I only have a tangential impact on patients, but that’s ok with me. I still know the impact I can have on many people’s lives and that’s exciting to me. Sitting in board rooms or IT offices, we could use more people thinking about the patient and not just the bottom line. I think that’s the message of Patch Adams that’s portrayed so well by Robin Williams.

Here’s another clip from one of my favorite Robin William’s movies:

I loved Dead Poets Society because he encourages you to think about life from a new perspective. There’s a whole lot of group think in healthcare. There aren’t enough people that are willing to stand up and say “O Captain my Captain.” Plus, there’s a whole culture of people who will kick against someone who does so.

I’m not suggesting that we should be subversive or go against the crowd just for the sake of being different. The healthcare community should dig in its heels when someone is trying to subvert something that matters a lot. I think we’ve seen that happen with immunizations and even the most recent Ebola news. However, we also shouldn’t be complacent. New ideas can stretch our thinking and help us better understand why and when we should dig in our heels and when we should change. That’s the message I take from the clip above.

I also can’t help but mention the issues of depression and suicide. This article does a good job discussing the topic and the first part of the post is worth sharing here as well:

First off, if you are thinking of committing suicide, don’t. Here’s the number to call if you find yourself unstable. No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy like this to remind us of how we’re all dealing with our own personal demons. This social media world has us more connected than ever, but also contributes to the challenge as well. On social media, everyone appears to be happy, having a good time, and perfect. It’s pretty rare that someone posts about their challenges. It’s much easier to just shout praise on social media all the time. Plus, we sometimes replace real relationships with virtual relationships that have little meaning.

That doesn’t have to be the case. I have amazingly deep relationships with so many people that I connect with almost exclusively online. However, just like in person relationships, how we respond really matters. The challenge is that online it’s easy to brush off communication or be harsh with someone. Online it’s hard to know what someone’s going through on the other end of the line. So, be careful what you say and do. Online relationships can be extremely meaningful if you treat them with the same care you do offline relationships. It does take time and effort though. You never know when you might be there for someone in the moment they need you most. The great part is that they’ll likely return the favor when you need it most.