Where’s the Steve Jobs of Healthcare?

Steve Jobs means a lot to me. In my junior year of high school, my English teacher gave me the honor of setting up the school’s first computer lab. I asked her if we could purchase Macintosh computers. She said yes, and we got the lab set up when they arrived just in time for the Fall start.

It gave me the confidence to take charge; to make something look cool at a time when the word “geek” was more wounding to teens than “loser”; and it gave me the incline to rise out of a depression I sauntered under for years.

It was Steve Jobs’ charisma and vision which inspired me then. Who knew a small box could absorb so much attention?

I’m not a Mac fanboy, but I do detest PCs. Much of Healthcare is PC. Maybe one day it will be more Mac.

Jobs always struck me as a man on a mission – there’s a look in his eye: a direct honesty of passion. A look of intelligent fearlessness.

That intelligent fearlessness changed an entire industry. In fact, Steve Jobs went beyond his own industry to create new ones.

More – he created more than a new industry: he created a new way for all of us to do things. We take them for granted – which is proof of his success.

Still more – the platforms he created will create new platforms which will give rise to new industries. Yeah, he’s that kind of leader.

But while Steve Jobs moved his industry forward, Healthcare is – for the most part – almost criminally backwards.


Shortest but most covering answer: lack of Leadership at the top.

I’ll talk more about my ideas of the meaning of leadership over time here. But Healthcare is actually full of leaders – they just aren’t at the top.

You don’t find many CEOs whom I would consider leaderly.

You don’t find many politicians whom I would consider leaderly.

You do find them at the bedside.

You do find them counseling traumatized children.

You do find them at nursing and medical schools. Sorta.

You do find them voicing themselves here and there.

You can find them almost anywhere, except in the towers which wield the greatest powers.

The problem with the lack of top leadership in Healthcare isn’t that the top people there are necessarily bad or stupid. Maybe they are.

The problem with the lack of top leadership in Healthcare is that we have systems that reward political corruption and punish moral fortitude.

The problem with the lack of top leadership – there being no Steve Jobs at the helms – lies in Capital.

Few people understand Capital. Read this for an eye opener.

Steve Jobs knows what to do with Capital.

His company is the most capitalized company in the world. He didn’t bother with social media.  He probably thinks it’s all dopery.

Steve Jobs leads. He doesn’t tweet.

So, to my question: Where is the Steve Jobs of Healthcare?

You are the Steve Jobs of Healthcare. Or Stephanie Jobs.

You can do more than you know.

Death is a leader and we all are following it to the grave.

Death is the greatest leader of all time because it says “create now, your clock is ticking”.

I can’t say if Steve Jobs thought about death as an inspirer for his visions, nor if he is thinking about death now.

Then again, leadership and creation are eternal victories which death can never achieve.

The word needs to get to the CEOs and other executive officers in Healthcare that Leadership trumps short-term profit, that Leadership trumps their fears of inept investors who end up blowing their money away eventually.

Phil Baumann



Are You A 21st Century Health Care Leader?

Do you care?

Do you learn something new everyday?

Are you confused about our time?

Do you have a sense of humor?

Do you believe health care is a right or an earned asset?

Have you ever imagined what it’s like to die in pain?

Do you prefer to be right or wrong?

When was the last time you started a community centerred around health care?

If I Googled your name, would I find you in the top three results?

If I found you on Google – anywhere – what would I learn about you?

If I can’t find you on Google, where are you?

Is Twitter trivial or relevant in health care?

What about Facebook? Good for health care? Bad?

What have you written publicly about the nuances involved in healthcare and social media?

What are you thoughts on the Quantified Self?

If you could build the Healthcare industry from scratch, what would be your first priority? Your second? Your third? Your last?

What are your thoughts on paper versus electronic medical records?

What’s your philosophy on how social and other digital technologies shape health care?

If you don’t have a philosophy about technology, what are your plans for navigating through the Century of Technology?

Do you think it’s acceptable for nursing homes to smell like garbage? Or is that par-for-the course in Healthcare?

Do you feel stupid about health care reform?

Do you thirst after knowledge like water in a desert?

What does health mean to you?

Have you ever commented on a blog, forum or anywhere else on anything related to health care?

What does “blogging” mean to you? Waste of time? Or a sign of 21st Century excellence in communication?

How do you feel about curse words?

Following up to the previous question: if you never ever curse in public, how do I know you’re passionate about health care? Or anything for that matter?

If someone is terminally dying (hours, days from death) and asks for more morphine, how fast or slow would you run it in?

Would I ask you to help in a code, or kick you out of the room?

Do you have a mechanical view of the world, or an organic one?

What do health care leaders do, in your view?

What does “health care transformation” mean? Useless buzz-phrase, or something to work on?

What matters to you most in health care?

Following up on the previous question: what are you doing about it right now, this moment?