When Technology Makes People Talk: What Uber Can Teach the Sterile Processing Industry


I fought the Uber-craze for a long time. I mean, get in the car with a complete stranger and trust them to get me safely from point A to point B?! Nah, I prefer to live.


But seriously. I was a late-comer to the blessing commonly known as Uber.


Interestingly enough, my first experience as an Uber rider was after an IAHCSMM event in Chicago, when I needed to get from the hotel to the airport to fly back home. I had spent the week networking with other Sterile Processing subject matter experts as we were reviewing certification exam questions, so I was now on my way back to the world of OR schedules, angry surgeons, and equipment downtimes.


I downloaded the Uber app, hustled down to the hotel lobby, jumped in, had a conversation with the driver about the recent Chicago crime sprees, and jumped out at the airport.

Bada bing, bada boom. End of story... almost.


The "Aha" Uber-Moment: A (Very Short) Philosophy of Technology


Fast forward a couple of years, and I have many more Uber rides under my belt. I'm sitting in the backseat of another random stranger's car, taking me from one Level 1 trauma hospital to a newer hospital on the other side of town. And along the way, we get to talking about all the different types of people he's met and all the fun conversations he's had.


And it hits me like a ton of bricks.


DUH! Of course you've met tons of different people, and of course y'all had great conversations! Why? Because whether Uber knew it or not, their concept of strangers connecting together for a common purpose (on-demand transportation), is one of the most powerful natural networking concepts on the market today. Even more powerful than Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. You can scroll past twenty different people on a Linkedin feed. But you're stuck with this Uber driver until you reach your destination.


And here's the philosophy part. Many, many folks today lament the isolating power of what has come to be known, ironically enough, as "social" media. Facebook admitted as much in recent months. Information consumption alone, absent real, genuine human relationships has a deteriorating effect on a human being. But Uber turns that technological challenge on it's head. Through their app, they take real people, with real needs, mix them together in a 2003 Chevy Aveo for 10 minutes of genuine conversation, and say "You're welcome."


And Ap(p)t Lesson for the Sterile Processing Universe


So, what hath this Uber-networking to do with SPD? Much, in every way.


Uber wasn't created as a great idea to enable great conversations. The Uber founders saw a need and used technology to meet that need in a creative and innovative way. The great conversations and networking were just the result of a great idea.


In the world of SPD, I believe one of our greatest needs is for the best thinkers, the newest technologies, the ideas that are moving our industry forward to be put in front of the rest of us -- to engage with, think about, and implement in our own corners of the surgical instrument universe. We need to continue to utilize the power of natural networking to throw us all into the backseat of a proverbial SPD-Sedan, turn the Beyond Clean podcast on the stereo, and commit to having a genuine conversation about making the world of surgery a safer, better place.


Who knows, we may even learn some things and make a couple of new friends along the way.


If you ask me, that's beyond #WorthIt.


What say you?

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