7 seconds. 208 seconds.

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I’m writing this from the airplane flight home from CentricityTM LIVE 2014 in Denver.  It has been an amazing three days meeting with Centricity customers and hearing how they use GE Healthcare IT solutions.

Although this blog is usually about healthcare IT issues, I want to do something different with this post, so I’ll request that you indulge me and read on. I want to take a moment to reflect upon some of the comments that I heard from our keynote speakers, Allison Massari and Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.

On the surface, Allison and Sully don’t appear to have a lot in common.  Allison is a visual artist who survived a harrowing automobile accident, spending more than 400 days in hospitals, physical therapy centers, and doctors’ offices as a patient.  Sully is an Air Force veteran and long-time commercial pilot who became world famous after he landed an airplane in the Hudson River, known now as the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

Yet, listening to Allison and Sully on back-to-back days at Centricity LIVE, I realized that they both have a common lesson to teach all of us.  What’s the lesson?  Plain and simple—it’s the little moments in life that have the greatest impact and you never know what little moment is going to change the world, so you better be prepared for it.

In Allison’s case, it was the 7 seconds that a nurse took to look Allison in the eyes and explain a medical procedure during her painful recovery in the hospital.  Those 7 seconds of compassion made all the difference to Allison, as it gave her hope that people were looking out for her and that recovery was a possibility.  The nurse could have easily just performed the procedure, but taking 7 seconds to talk with Allison changed the course of Allison’s recovery—which in turn led to Allison becoming a motivational speaker who has now presented to hundreds of audiences around the world.

If you had been at Centricity LIVE, you could have seen the three-minute standing ovation that Allison got after her talk yesterday.  And you could have seen the customer who came up to me, hugged me, and thanked me for bringing Allison to Centricity LIVE, telling me that Allison’s speech “has changed my outlook on life.”

Sully’s life-changing moment lasted all of 208 seconds.  That’s the amount of time it took his flight to take off from LaGuardia airport in New York, hit a flock of birds, and land in the Hudson River.  Sully was in command of that airplane, and as I listened to the flight recording that he played at Centricity LIVE, my first thought was that his voice sounded like he was going for a walk in Central Park, not landing a plane with two dead engines on a river running through the heart of Manhattan.

Yet as Sully explained to our standing-room-only audience, he’d been preparing for that moment all his life.  He just didn’t know it until he was in the moment.  Sully’s preparation—a value system instilled in him by his parents, a military background, thousands of real flight time and flight simulator hours—gave him the tools he needed to succeed in that brief moment when he had the lives of 150 people literally in his hands.

Every day, we’re each faced with little moments.  The question is what we do with the time we have.  How do we react?  Do we put ourselves or others first?

While we spend a lot of time at GE Healthcare IT talking about actionable insights and outcomes, it’s important to remember that the real reason that we’re all in this business is to care for patients.  It’s that fundamental value proposition that gets me out of bed each morning to come to work.  And it’s an ethos that I’m glad we had the opportunity to share with our customers and partners at Centricity LIVE.

I’ll see you all in Orlando next April.


2 thoughts on “7 seconds. 208 seconds.

    • I wholeheartedly second Rhea’s comment. Justin Steinman, our CMO, captured the essence of the event eloquently in this blog. Reading his blog again this morning made me relive the great 3-days I was able to experience in Denver – very informative sessions, inspirational keynote sessions, and of course the informal chats in between the formal sessions.

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