Five things I wish I knew before I started: Anne O’Hanlon

In our new series, we ask our key thought leaders to share a more personal perspective on their career journey and current position.

Anne is Product Director for both our Analytics and Digital Front Door Lines of Business. She has lived and breathed health informatics for nearly two decades and has worked in all areas of Orion Health’s global business over the past 16 years.

Anne is a versatile business leader with a passion for combining technology and process improvement in the healthcare sector to create a better overall experience for staff, patients and caregivers. She is currently channelling this knowledge and passion into redefining the healthcare experience for all consumers through the use of patient engagement technologies.​

Can you share with us five things you wish you knew before you started out?

Customers remember how you made them feel

Feelings create the strongest memories. People might not remember what you have done for them lately, or that big effort you made to deliver on time, but they will never forget how you made them feel along the way. What matters most is the little things – the regular, frequent moments where you stop to listen and make them feel valued, respected, understood, or supported. Those feelings build trust which is the foundation of enduring and successful relationships.

Know your Why. Understand your purpose.

Having a firm sense of identity and purpose orients you towards making great decisions. At Orion Health we’re on a mission to revolutionise global healthcare so every individual receives the perfect care for them.

Knowing your personal Why helps you in all sorts of situations. It frames your life, guides you towards success and provides the motivation to persevere, especially when the going gets tough. I wish I’d known earlier how important it was to take time out to discover my purpose.

FAIL means First Attempt In Learning

I love this phrase. I first saw it written in big letters on the wall of a classroom. I was on a school tour at the time, assessing whether this particular school would be the best place for my 4-year-old. It is wonderful that teachers encourage children to be risk-takers. It takes enormous courage to step out and try something new. All too often we stay inside our comfort zone because we don’t want to be seen to fail. Recognising that failure is part of the learning cycle is liberating.

Requirements are like an onion

When you first look at an onion it seems like a simple brown vegetable. You might think you know what’s inside but when you first peel back just the outer layer it turns white. The more layers you peel back the more you cry! The beautiful thing is that a well-cooked onion transforms from bitter tears into a sweet and satisfying dish.

To define well what software needs to do is just like this. On the surface, the solution might seem simple. We fool ourselves into thinking we understand the requirements when in reality what we have is often just a long and disjointed wish list.

Truly understanding requirements means peeling back all the layers and uncovering your stakeholder’s unspoken needs and assumptions. The more you learn the more you realise how little you really knew.

Nothing beats face to face

Technology gives us so many ways to communicate today but are we choosing the most productive and effective way? Email’s fire-and-forget mode of communication is often a poor choice as recipients can easily misunderstand what is written without the visual or verbal cues.

What takes just a few minutes for the author to write and send to a group may collectively waste a lot of time for everyone to read, triggering a storm of replies when a quick face to face conversation would have got it right first time, fast.

These days I stop and think carefully about which method of communication is best suited to the situation. In my experience, talking in person often gets things sorted out faster.


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