Technology has the power to save lives, and to take them. That isn’t a stretch or an exaggeration. This week I gave a keynote to over 300 healthcare providers. One of the things I spoke about was the electronic medical record. Healthcare providers tend to either love the EMR, or hate it. They find it makes life easier, or harder. But I’ve seen the worst of the EMR. I had a case where a misunderstanding in the patient portal may have led to a patient’s death. The doctor and the patient were communicating, but they weren’t seeing things through the other’s perspective. As a result, there was no meeting of the minds and hearts.

It got me thinking about social media. Some of us love it, and some of us hate it. Some find it makes life easier, and some fine it makes life harder. But we’ve also seen the worst of social media. We’ve seen where misunderstandings, or pure nastiness and insecurity, have led to cyberbullying and even suicide. When you can’t see the person you’re attacking, it’s harder to see through their perspective. And then it’s easier to lose your mind and heart.

We need to start using using technology to improve connections.Technology can save lives, bring joy and make life easier. But we have to begin with a pause for perspective. If you’re a doctor, pause before you use the EMR and consider your entry from the perspective of other members of the healthcare team. When you’re emailing at work, take a minute and think about the person who will receive your email. How will they receive it? And when you’re on social media, pause for perspective before you post that less-than-lovely comment.

Technology has power. So do you. Use your power wisely, and pause for perspective. To say you might change a life isn’t a stretch.

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