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The Microsoft Envision conference is fast approaching and again promises to be a thrilling affair. There’s a star-studded line-up of speakers that includes Michelle Obama and key Microsoft leaders, but the one I’m most excited about is Sir Ken Robinson. If you haven’t had the pleasure, his 20-minute TED Talk on ‘Do schools kill creativity?’ is one of the most watched with over 13 million views. His questions about the validity of our educational system are disquieting, his insights profound, and his sense of humor and delivery so very entertaining it belies the serious subject matter.

It’s a topic that has parallels in our healthcare systems around the world. We’ve been operating within them so long, and conditioned to accept mediocrity together with miracles, that it can be hard to take a step back and conceive of health delivered differently. Especially for those of us within or close to the system. Healthcare is so very personal. We all have a health story that has been deeply impactful, either ourselves or our loved ones. It’s an industry where we try to overlook the stories of heartbreak and loss, where the system hasn’t worked, because we don’t want to direct criticism at the health workers who dedicate their lives to helping others. For the change agents in health however, asking the hard questions and being brutally honest is part of the process. Why, when hospital and hospitality share a common root, do we have such a service and experience gap? What if my hospital experience was as good as my hotel stay – from check in to timely departure?

Which is why Envision is such a special gathering. This is a cross-industry event with a common organizing theme – digital transformation. It’s an opportunity for business leaders to witness firsthand how change is unfolding in other industries, and consider the implications for their own. As a lagging adopter of information technology, healthcare is ideally positioned to learn from these digital pioneers. There are overarching themes that seem to surface repeatedly, regardless of industry. Customer (patient) engagement, staff (clinician) productivity, data driven decisions (care), cost efficiencies. Yes, health is unique in many regards. It doesn’t mean we can ignore the lessons from the rest of our digital society, as it moves inexorably forwards.

I’m thrilled to be sharing the stage with Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, health economist and author of the blog Healthpopuli. Running now for over ten years, Healthpopuli has been asking the hard questions about the validity of our healthcare systems. Taking a data driven approach to quality, access, equity, and the impact of all this complexity on the patient. I welcome everyone at Envision with an interest in health to join Jane and I for the Monday afternoon session at 2pm ‘Saving lives with digital transformation in health’. This will be the first of a packed series of six dedicated health track sessions over three days, which demonstrates the emphasis health has at Microsoft today. Of course, we realize not everyone will be able to travel for this fabulous event. if you are going to miss Envision, be sure to tune into the Webinar, register here!