SINC’s Director of Content Annie Liljegren spoke with Jennifer Jones in September 2021. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Jennifer Jones: There’s a bit of a mediated experience in virtual that is easier from a delivery perspective; when you’re in person it’s much more visceral. Whereas I can mediate it a little bit more through virtual, which is both good and bad—you can’t see the full experience until we do VR, which I’m sure we’ll get into someday! So from the physical landscape perspective, that’s how I’m approaching it.
From the delivery perspective, related to health care and all the different members I work with in the healthcare vertical, it’s been a really tough year, almost two years now. I think at the beginning we may have thought: Okay, it’s a straight line, we’ll go through these phases and it’ll be fine. That’s literally not the case. It’s in waves, so it comes and goes and different challenges have emerged. And people from the healthcare perspective intersect with us, and with me directly, at different phases due to the nature of whatever they’re dealing with day-to-day. My talk in general, will reflect on the sheer amount of those waves.
So what does that look like for healthcare? Obviously there’s been a lot of bonus in terms of advancing things that were on a roadmap before but were sidelined—like virtual health—and have now taken the forefront. But what does that look like from a workflow perspective, what does that look like from a patient care perspective?
What does it look like further on? I meet with a lot of acute care executives, and they say How do I reuse my physical infrastructure?
They don’t have the same amount of people coming in, or people are coming in for different reasons. So I think reflecting on some of those points will be important.
Jennifer Jones: No, that’s okay—that question goes to the core principle. I’ve always been interested in more of the social side of not only health care, but technology.
There’s forever been this sort of optimism around technology as creating more benefit and more value and more connectivity among people. I think the jury’s still out as to whether that’s been successful or not—the past few years, have been pretty rough on that side of things.
But taking it back to the healthcare lens, things that I find encouraging are more investment and more understanding of the social determinants of health, and how that plays a role in changing institutions and policies: to recognize where we’ve stumbled and to become more inclusive and more aware of of the frameworks we’re dealing with.
Speaking from more of a North American context, obtaining the research documenting social determinants of health and how those impact health delivery is really a society-wide challenge, even an institutional challenge. In my prior work I’ve dealt with organizations that were really using technology as a mediator format to connect people to both health and social services, and to acknowledge the wider impact of society in the delivery of healthcare.
And that’s where I see the macro benefit of healthcare: connecting the social determinants with the delivery.
Patients are often complex and have a variety of mitigating factors that bring them into a doctor’s office, and then they still take those away from their appointment or procedure.