‘Health Care X-Ray’: fully exposed
by Sam Waterson
We all have the capacity to be innovative, but often we can be held back by our own fear of failure or ridicule. I want to share with you how overcoming my own inhibitions allowed me to be more innovative, and how rewarding this has been. Specifically, I am going to briefly describe the journey I have had in creating a podcast.
‘Health Care X-Ray’ is a podcast based around interviews with a wide variety of innovators and thinkers who are all experts in one area of health or another. At the time of our launch, I had recently started medical school as a graduate, and wanted to do something that connected my growing interests in both digital technology and health, that fitted around the degree course and allowed me the opportunity to meet amazing people doing inspiring things. A podcast seemed to fit the bill.
However, I soon learnt that there were a number of technical challenges to overcome. The initial hurdles included choosing suitable recording equipment, learning how to edit content and deciding where to host it online; I was pleased to find a number of excellent guides on these topics freely accessible on the internet. These made most the challenges all relatively straightforward to overcome with a bit of effort. Where I struggled, such as with designing a logo, I was able to turn to fantastic friends and family for help. Nevertheless, the most seemingly difficult and crucial obstacle to overcome in creating a podcast based on speaking to fascinating people is getting some fascinating people to agree to speak to you!
I suspect that if you contact an individual who is at the top of their field or leading innovation within healthcare, out of the blue, and ask them to meet you to chat about their work, then they might say yes, but you may come across as a tad weird, and it’s hard to say what the other person will get out of indulging your curiosity. However, if you label this chat ‘an interview’, stick a microphone in between you and promise to put the conversation up online, so others can hear what they have to say, well then it’s a totally normal, socially acceptable request – flattering even. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who responded positively to my emails requesting an interview. Around half of the people I asked agreed, and most of those seemed to enjoy the experience and thanked me for the opportunity to talk about their passion. This worked wonderfully well, allowing me to spend quality time with people I admired, whilst gleaning wisdom, tips, and answers to all the burning questions I had about their life and work. Some of my highlights have included: a long chat with an anaesthetist who had performed experiments on Everest, learning about the challenges of starting a business from a medical student turned entrepreneur, and discussing the progress of technological advances that are allowing rapid diagnosis of tuberculosis with one of my favourite Professors.
These conversations would have made the whole podcasting project worthwhile on their own, but there were lots of other benefits from launching a podcast. Peers who were undertaking, or considering undertaking, their own creative projects heard about what I had done and because of this came and spoke to me about their ideas. The podcast also led to my introduction to the Healthcare Leadership Academy. Furthermore, doing something in the digital space enhanced my understanding of digital technology and gave me a hunger to know more, which has led on to further projects.
Putting yourself out there, exposing yourself to possible ridicule and the potential of failure seems daunting, even if all you’re really risking is your own ego. From my experience, though, it’s definitely worth it. To paraphrase one of the first people I interviewed, no-one is going to give you permission to do extraordinary things, you just have to go out and do them.
Sam’s podcasts are available online at http://www.healthcarexray.com and via iTunes under ‘Health Care X-Ray’
Sam Waterson is a medical student in his penultimate year of study on the graduate programme at St. George’s, University of London. He is particularly interested in the use of digital technology in healthcare, having run a healthcare podcast and now developing online educational videos. He is happy to be contacted through LinkedIn if you wish to discuss any of these topics.