Illinois Hospital Association President Mary Jane Wurth recently wrote a tribute to Apple’s Steve Jobs. She connects the dots between Apple’s success and the health care challenges standing before us.
goal isn’t to live forever, but to create something that will.” That’s
my favorite quote by the late Steve Jobs, who was passionate about
design, function and communication. For those of us who are passionate
about health care, these are three keys to keep in mind as the
transformation of our nation’s health care system continues.
Design: Apple and design were synonymous. Jobs showed better
than anyone the importance of strategic, innovative design as he led
the transformation of personal computing from complexity to simplicity.
Design has emerged as a critical component as hospitals increase their
focus on patient-centered care in every aspect of health care—from
evidence-based systems of care to patient rooms renovated for better use
from the patient perspective.
Function: Jobs knew good looks weren’t enough for his
products, any more than a beautiful patient room automatically increases
the quality of care. The Apple operating system from the onset created
easy navigation among applications that was clear and user-friendly. The
fundamental function of our health care system hasn’t changed—the care
and treatment of the ill and injured—but how we care for patients has
changed, and continues to do so. If a design improvement does not
improve patient care, it is not an improvement.
Communication: From its very beginnings, the Apple
platform’s intuitive, easy-to-understand icons created a personal link
and passion between individuals and their computers that had never
existed before. Clear communication between physicians, health care
staff and patients is not only important but essential—in the emergency
department, within the operating room or at the bedside.
Steve Jobs’ greatest success was in designing technically complex
products that virtually anyone could use, inspiring passion along the
way. As health care leaders, we have the same opportunity as Jobs to
redesign and “re-imagine” the complex world of health care for our
patients as we continue to transform to a new model of health care
None of us will live forever. But we have an extraordinary
opportunity to create a lasting legacy as we design a health care system
for the future.