Accelerating Change

This month’s column is necessarily brief because I’m writing it in my hotel room in the old city of Cuzco, Peru. Other than preparing for a busy day viewing the ruins of the ancient Incan civilization and Spanish conquest, I could as easily be writing this in my home office in Toronto.

I arrived here from Machu Picchu after three and a half days of hiking the Inca Trail through the mountains and forests of the Andes in Peru. When we arrived at the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu, one of great wonders of the world, the digital cameras, camcorders tablets and smartphones came out capturing the moment and transmitting first impressions by text to family and friends around the world. Some journalists have commented that the cell phone coverage on Machu Picchu is better than some parts of New York City. That afternoon, in Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu, I busily updated my Facebook page with my own photos of the event accessing the free WiFi that was readily available throughout the town. Within minutes I received “Like’s” back from a cousins in Australia and Ireland.

While I was impressed with the engineering and architecture of the ancient Incas, I am more impressed with the global transformation that is taking place because of ICTs. When I first started adventure travelling in the 1980’s there was none of this. Back then we thought that fax machines were pretty cool, cell phones were tethered to our cars and eMail was revolutionizing workplace communications. On my Inca Trail trek my compatriots were packing their iPads and smartphones along with their sleeping bags. Facebook, Twitter and Skype, services that barely existed 10 years ago, are the preferred methods of communications for world adventurers.

As I reflect on the theme of this year’s eHealth Conference, Accelerating Change, I am wondering if the word “accelerating” is an adjective or a verb. As an adjective it certainly describes the global phenomenon taking place in health care… and in fact all human endeavors. Change is happening. It is also quickening. A tsunami of information and processing capability is engulfing the globe.

But “accelerating” is also a verb. We are the instigators of this global transformation. The products and services we sell, the ideas that we transform into reality, the decisions we make drive this quickening. The actions and measures we take at this conference will contribute to the acceleration of change.

As I stood at the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu, beside a young lady texting her friends in Europe, I wondered, “What would the ancients have thought of this?”

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