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Blog Post

Where philosophy and digital health intersect

By Andrew Rebhan

June 4, 2021

When it comes to philosophy, you fall into one of two camps: you either love it or hate it. I fall into the first camp.

Philosophers have tackled big existential questions about ethics, truth, justice, and what makes for a purposeful life. Sure, it leads to endless debate and no concrete answers, but that's half the fun of it. But what I think makes philosophy particularly special is how adaptable it is, and how it applies to all aspects of daily life—including digital health.

Infographic: Storytelling for digital transformation

Don't believe me? Keep reading:

"The unexamined life is not worth living." – Socrates
"The unexamined patient is not worth the video visit." – Telehealth skeptic

"I think therefore I am." – René Descartes
"I'm trained therefore I'm biased." – AI algorithm

"One cannot step twice in the same river." – Heraclitus
"One cannot step twice in the same data lake." – Data architect

"The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless." – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
"The world of reality has its limits; the world of virtual reality is boundless." – Silicon Valley tech nerd

"Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don't know." – Bertrand Russell
"Data breaches are what I know. How to stop them is what I don't know." – Chief information security officer

"Philosophy is at once the most sublime and the most trivial of human pursuits." – William James
"Data governance is at once the most sublime and the most trivial of human pursuits." – Chief data officer

"I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure it is not in order to enjoy ourselves." – Ludwig Wittgenstein
"I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure it's to enjoy ourselves." – Big Tech executive

"Good and evil, reward and punishment, are the only motives to a rational creature." – John Locke
"Good and evil, reward and punishment, are the only motives to keep patients using their wearables." – Digital health coach

"It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence of this." – Bertrand Russell
"It has been said that an EHR is a rational investment. All my working days I have been searching for evidence of this." – CFO

"The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution." – Hannah Arendt
"The most radical telehealth champion will become a conservative the day after telehealth payment parity ends." – Physician

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." – Aristotle
"It is the mark of an educated digital health firm to be able to entertain a SPAC without accepting it." – Venture capitalist

"Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing." – Ambrose Bierce
"An innovation center: A route of many pilots leading from nowhere to nothing." – Chief strategy officer

Some quotes don't need updating:

"My condition is not unhappiness, but it is also not happiness, not indifference, not weakness, not fatigue, not another interest—so what is it then?" – Franz Kafka
"My condition is not unhappiness, but it is also not happiness, not indifference, not weakness, not fatigue, not another interest—so what is it then?" – A patient responding to an experience survey

"Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity." – Simone Weil
"Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity." – A patient waiting for the doctor to stop staring at the computer during an exam

"Do or do not, there is no try." – Yoda
"Do or do not, there is no try." – FDA

Storytelling for digital transformation

Download the infographic

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This infographic demonstrates how storytelling can be used to effectively communicate a vision across the organization and ultimately build excitement for a project and gain employee commitment.

Download now

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