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Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone Kicks Off HIMSS12 with Inspirational Keynote


Social media is a big topic among physician practices this year, but Stone's speech focused less on healthcare issues such as ICD-10 and more on general life lessons.

Whether it’s improving patient care or launching a new program at your practice, you can actually create, or manufacture, your own opportunities. 

Such was one of the themes espoused by Twitter co-founder and creative director Biz Stone, Tuesday’s keynote speaker at the HIMSS12 Annual Conference & Exhibition in Las Vegas.

Nearly every seat was taken in the enormous fifth-floor Palazzo ballroom during the 90-minute presentation, which included a 10-minute violin-and-acrobatic-dance performance and an introductory, technology-focused talk by HIMSS Board of Directors Chair Charlene Underwood. And though the choice of Stone was fitting, as social media is a big topic among physician practices this year, his speech focused less on healthcare issues such as meaningful use and ICD-10 timelines and more on general life lessons.

The first lesson, which seemed to resonate with attendees Tweeting during Stone’s talk, centered on the topic of opportunity. Stone told a story about founding a lacrosse team while in grade school, because his school didn’t have one, instead of waiting for one to come along.

“Opportunity can be manufactured,” said Stone. “You can actually create, or manufacture your own opportunities. It’s so simple: you always think about opportunity coming along but you can always create it.”

Stone also talked about finding creative inspiration everywhere possible. When Stone created Twitter with business partner Evan Williams, mobile SMS was becoming popular, and AOL Instant Messenger status updates were widely used. Yet those rudimentary technologies were inspirational to finessing early versions of the product.

“The main critique of Twitter was, ‘it’s not useful,’” said Stone. “And I remember Evan saying, ‘so is ice cream. Should we ban all ice cream?’  So we kept working on it.”

That, plus studying graphic design with a top creative director in New York, taught him that creativity is a renewable resource.

“You can always take a new approach to anything,” said Stone. “You can imagine this being applied to any challenge in any industry. Creativity is infinite and you can always refresh it.”

During a post-speech Q&A with Underwood, Stone told the audience that using “even rudimentary technology to communicate about health is a huge step forward.” Two examples: taking personal responsibility for your health by tweeting healthcare news, or using social media outlets to post weight-loss goals.

“I think the biggest thing that these all boil down to is awareness and paying attention,” said Stone. “I think devices like social media… help make us aware of how much we’re eating, how many steps we’re taking. It gives more ownership of your health to you and makes you proud to take control of it.”

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