Five things I wish I knew before I started

Dr Chris Hobson, Chief Medical Officer

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

Kicking off the series is our Chief Medical Officer, Dr Chris Hobson. Now based in our Toronto office, Dr Hobson has over 20 years’ experience as a physician working in primary and secondary care, including 10 years in family medicine. 

While working as a primary care practitioner, he was instrumental in establishing the largest primary care network in New Zealand, where he helped develop and use one of the first electronic health records (EHRs) and pioneered the first implementations of value-based care. Dr Hobson then worked in senior management at South Auckland Health focused on care integration between the hospital and community before he joined us at Orion Health.  

Since joining us he has been involved in most areas of healthcare IT with an emphasis on the clinical and functional perspective, showing how technology can make a significant difference to a patient’s experience with the healthcare system. He is particularly attracted to the use of Orion Health’s software to drive the evolution of healthcare towards both population health and patient empowerment. 

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

One
Don’t be afraid to speak up, especially and not only when you know a bad decision is in the making. Do it nicely, but clearly. I’ve personally found that when I do speak up on a difficult point, many others follow suit. Others in the meeting were just afraid to speak first! 

Two
Listen first and tell the truth with love (or tell the truth with great care.) It’s vitally important to always speak the truth as you see it, even though sometimes the message must be conveyed sensitively. Admittedly, some of this comes from experiences practicing medicine. I’ve had to tell many people their diagnosis is cancer and the likely prognosis is poor, even though we will of course do everything in our power to try and beat the odds. I always found that with appropriate thought and due care, there are always ways to convey even painful truths accurately and with empathy for the patient’s situation. The usual response is something like “That’s okay, it’s best I know what I’m facing even when it’s not pleasant.”  

Three
Invest the effort to work with people, especially those with diverse backgrounds or those who don’t think in the way you do or don’t agree with you. It’s been well shown that diversity of inputs is the key to making better decisions. One of my mentors told me several times that if we have a meeting with ten people and they all agree, that’s nine more people than we needed to be in that meeting. 

Four
Be sure to understand exactly what your client needs and strive to meet that; and don’t be afraid to say if you can’t deliver it. Clients appreciate genuine answers. I remember repeatedly telling a client that we didn’t have a feature they wanted and yes, I could easily believe that one of our competitors did have that feature. Despite that discussion which felt quite difficult, the client chose to buy from us. I am sure they appreciated I was being genuine. 

Five
Know, understand and follow Robert’s rules of parliamentary procedure. They are an excellent example of how to use a group of people to make better decisions.


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