Yesterday, we had a quick chat with John Nosta, Digital Health Evangelist & President, NOSTALAB and keynote speaker at the upcoming Digital Healthcare Transformation Assembly this April.
Among the topics under discussion was innovation, communication, banana splits, the emergence of the technology quotient, and changing the very fabric of humanity.
Thanks so much to John for sitting down with us.
You founded Nostalab in 2012 as “a healthcare ‘innovation think tank’”. What motivated you to jump into the digital health space?
Nosta: Well actually it was one simple phrase that drove me into this space. Simply, “Winking in the dark.”
I found that innovation must be powered through communication. There are so many interesting dynamics that are going on in the world today, that the ability to diffuse innovation into clinical medicine, into any aspect of our lives is critical. So, for me my background in cardiovascular physiology, in marketing and advertising, in social media and in technology, gave me an interesting perspective to help clients navigate the treacherous path of exponential change.
I think that is such an important area because the rate of change is increasing so dramatically. The traditional concept of exponential growth no longer applies. The rules have change. I’m looking forward to talking to everyone about exponential change in a couple of weeks. And I’m going to show you a chart that no one has ever seen before. Everyone talks about fast it goes but, I’m going to talk about a couple of the perils of exponential change that I think will really resonate with the audience.
Basically, that‘s what got me interested. I felt that I had a voice that was uniquely tuned to this very interesting point in time and wanted to help people, innovators and clinicians alike really be able to empower their innovations through effective strategic thinking and creative communication.
We often talk about the technology aspect of digital healthcare. As a voice in the industry and a writer for Psychology Today you’ve introduced a new term “TQ”. Can you explain this term?
Nosta: Every parent wants their child to be smart. I think that’s a very easy concept to understand. Every Mom and Dad wants their child to be empathetic. Sometimes we talk about that as not only cognitive ability as expressed by IQ but street-smart the ability to be empathetic to engage in and with people on a human level or EQ. Those are sort of the two classic developmental parameters we talk about when we raise our children.
What I see today is that the changes in the world are happening so quickly, again this is all around the concept of exponential change, that our ability to assimilate and to adapt to these changes will be in part a function of our success. Our ability to include technology in the ever-changing world and in our lives is part of this technology quotient or TQ.
Just imagine if you didn’t adapt to the computer. And you found yourself in college. Or you didn’t adapt to other technology and you found yourself in a new job. What would happen?
You would really be sort of disconnected with the functionality of how technology and life interface. I believe that going to happen at such a pace that we need to be proactive in our ability to integrate technology into our lives, our lives into technology and interestingly and along the line that distinction will become so blurred that it may very well become one and the same.
In any company, the culture and leadership often make or breaks digital transformation. What advice would you give to healthcare professionals leading the digital mindset change in their business?
Nosta: I think the one biggest piece of advice I have for those people who are looking to evolve in our period of exponential and technological change is to experience it first-hand.
One of the problems that I find is many people, whether they be clinicians, brand marketers, directors of marketing, pundits or advocates, often articulate a description of the technology. And what they do is they basically say I want to tell you about something that’s called a banana split. And the way I’m going to describe that banana split to you is to tell you that it’s made of 37% oxygen, 12% nitrogen, etc. etc. Or another description would say this is a market-based commodity that can be acquired at a cost of $5.87 or they come up with another description using temperature.
These are all perfectly fine, perfectly smart, and perfectly valid descriptions of what a banana split is. The only true way to know what a banana split is is to taste it! And I believe that with technology this analogy is perfectly true. In that physicians and brand managers and all the stakeholders need to go online and to download apps and to be involved in these things first-hand. They have to experience it.
So that’s really my biggest challenge to people. If they want to understand social media, get on Twitter and spend some time listening and speaking with a community. If they want to understand how to monitor blood glucose levels using an app, get an app and track some physiological parameters that are relevant to you like weight or something.
With only two weeks until you keynote the Digital Healthcare Transformation Assembly, can you give our readers a taste of what you’ll be talking about?
Nosta: Sure. I think the one most important point is that we are all extraordinarily lucky to be alive. And it’s the amazing changes that are really beginning now. Not 10 years ago. Not 10 years into the future. But we are living in a true inflection point in human history that some people refer to as a Guttenberg moment. I would argue that’s not even close. Our inflection point is multifactorial and will really change the very fabric of humanity.
So, when I talk about what I’m going to say, I want my talk to be in part around technology, in part around humanity, but also in part around this grand sense of wonder that we are so lucky to experience today.
You get invited to speak at a lot of events. What stood out to you about our event, that brings together C-Level executives in an intimate setting?
Nosta: I have a history with you folks! I have experienced your events and what’s special about them is that they provide an appropriate constellation of issues ranging from venue to audience, to speakers that ultimately become a covalence of brilliance where the magic happens.
ABOUT JOHN NOSTA
First and foremost, John is a thinker. A thinker entrenched in the world of science, medicine, and innovation. John is the founder of NOSTALAB—a digital health think tank. He’s generally regarded as one of the top global strategic and creative thinkers in this important and expanding area. He is also one the most popular speakers around the globe presenting his vibrant and insightful perspective on the future of health innovation.
Unwilling to accept the status quo, he’s a contrarian with a focus the future of health and wellness. A leading voice in the convergence of technology and health, Nosta helps define, dissect and deliberate global trends in digital health. He is consistently ranked among the top names in almost every digital list and has sustained that position for several years. Beyond simply an influencer, John is also defined as “most admired” to “top disruptor” in digital health, life sciences, and the pharmaceutical industry. He is also a member of the Google Health Advisory Board and has penned HEALTH CRITICAL for Forbes–a top global blog on health and technology.
John has an established reputation as a vocal advocate for strategic thinking and creativity. He has built his career on the “science of advertising,” a process where strategy and creativity work together for superior marketing. He has also been recognized for his ability to translate difficult medical and scientific concepts into material that can be more easily communicated to consumers, clinicians and scientists. Additionally, John has distinguished himself as a scientific thinker. Earlier in his career, John was a research associate at Harvard Medical School and has co-authored several papers with global thought-leaders in the field of cardiovascular physiology with a focus on acute myocardial infarction, ventricular arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death.
John cut his teeth at the “big” agencies including Ogilvy CommonHealth, where he has held a series of positions including Chief Creative Officer, Chief Strategic Officer, and unit President.
ABOUT DIGITAL HEALTHCARE TRANSFORMATION ASSEMBLY
As the healthcare conversation in America continues to get more complicated, one thing is for sure health care systems and insurance carriers are being forced to respond to new demand rapidly. Businesses across the industry are scrambling to innovate and compete with non-traditional players, but above all, they must respond to empowered consumers. This customer-centric transformation has revolutionized retail, aviation and more. Now, it’s tackling healthcare.
The Digital Healthcare Transformation Assembly has been designed for all of our partners, affiliates, and members to once again gather in our unique format to develop new relationships, collaborate with like-minded peers, and learn cutting edge intelligence to take back home and help tackle the biggest business issues of today.
We will be addressing the most important digital marketing and business priorities of 2017 including:
- Content Marketing and Social Media
- The Future Of eHealth Systems and Health Data Analytics
- Consumerism and Meaningful Technology Engagement
- Data Analytics and Population Health
- Consumerizing and Personalizing Connected Health