HIMSS17 Social Media Ambassador Vanessa Carter on the medical humanities

The founder of hcsmSA and co-founder of hcsmAFRICA talks about her hero, pet peeves, and what’s top-of-mind among her social media followers. 
HIMSS17 Social Media Ambassador

Vanessa Carter (@_FaceSA) is a self-described technophile from South Africa, with a background in modern classical music and an affinity for the phrase medical humanities.

Healthcare IT News asked Carter, who will be a Social Media Ambassador at HIMSS17, who her health IT hero is, what she’s most looking forward to at this year’s conference and which pet peeves bug her the most.

Q: What are you most looking forward to at HIMSS17?
I’m a curious technophile so it’s difficult to pinpoint one item. The Innovation Symposium catches my interest with topics like Precision Medicine and AI in Healthcare and you’ll definitely spot me lingering often around the IoT, wearables and virtual gadgets exhibitors. However, if I did choose one, because I work extensively in the gender equality space in South Africa for digital empowerment through hcsmSA, the Women in Health IT program would probably benefit my work the most.

Q: What issues are top-of-mind for your social media followers?
In South Africa and Africa as a whole, definitely the new innovation taking place in virtual care given our limited access to facilities. Virtual and augmented reality always generate interest here, too. Another area of interest would probably be the start-up innovation taking place because entrepreneurship in Africa is expanding rapidly.

Q: Who's your favorite healthcare hero? Why?
Thomas M. Lee – co-founder of Symplur. He was a mentor among a few others like Patricia Anderson, Denise Silber, Lisa Fields and Marie Ennis-O’Connor. In my opinion, Symplur has been one of the fundamental pioneers in digital health. Patients and providers are participating more actively online because they have access to analytics. The tools give our conversations structure and a deeper meaning. Access to that social data will probably influence the future of health system design and research in an unprecedented way.

Q: What's your pet peeve? (Either on- or off-line?)
Like most creatives, I find it difficult to deal with closed-minded people. I think that it will become imperative to cultivate a society that works co-operatively across multiple sectors as we move toward a digital economy. Diversity and inclusion are also a major requirement for sustainable development and will need a paradigm shift in terms of our tolerance. One area in digital health that will require this type of radical interdisciplinary collaboration is antibiotics resistance.

Q: What is something your social media followers do not know about you?
I have a music degree, Grade 10 with superior honours, in modern-classical piano improvisation. When I was five years old I used to listen to my mum play Richard Clayderman and in the afternoons when she was at her workplace I would mimic what she had done by ear and adapt the score. I also studied fine art and design in my teen years. Here’s another: the combination of art and music have drawn my interest toward the medical humanities. The Cradle of Humankind in Johannesburg was declared a World Heritage Site by the UN in 1999 specifically because of its contribution to our knowledge about the birth of humankind. The exhibition there is incredibly informative in terms of how the current state of our global economies is affecting our health and how the SDG’s are related to future development. It also has some interesting facts about culture, creativity and music. It’s one of the reasons I chose to model the hcsmSA Twitter chats around the global goals. I do believe the medical humanities will play a major role in determining data sets we need to treat the person as a whole in a genomics era.

HIMSS17 runs from Feb. 19-23, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center.

This article is part of our ongoing coverage of HIMSS17. Visit Destination HIMSS17 for previews, reporting live from the show floor and after the conference.

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