START + Netsmart

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Recently, we had the honor of bringing the START Program to a fantastic Kansas City area based organization, Netsmart. As a healthcare company dedicated to delivering value-based care through technology, it is easy to imagine that these folks are in the business of continually seeking to understand how to maximize the benefits of technology to better serve their clients. Daily, they champion the power and promise that technology can bring to even the most vulnerable communities.

But what makes this company exceptional is its commitment to considering that if we aren’t intentional, we can accidentally let our screens get in the way of pursuing what matters most: relationships.

Last week, START joined COO Tom Herzog and a great team of Netsmart leaders, and pressed into a conversation rich with anecdotes about the importance of water cooler talk with coworkers, and undivided attention with clients. What would it look like to occasionally leave the laptop behind when visiting clients—showing up with only a pad of paper and pen? What would it look like to take the post-it note off of the video input, and join a Skype call meeting face-to-face? There was even a report of a recent executive meeting where everyone put their phones in a basket, and the results were invigorating—focused listening, collaboration, and rich connection…and they even finished early, with 15 minutes to spare.

For Netsmart, this conversation is a natural extension of their unique position at the intersection of the tech and mental health world. But if we are being honest, like any other company, it would be easier to avoid it. Continue taking the long route around the water cooler. Sending tough messages via text instead of having them face-to-face. Popping open a screen when eye contact and small talk feel awkward.

But that’s not who they are.

It was inspirational for our START team to see the Netsmart community press in to a difficult conversation with honesty and authenticity, and consider how healthier tech use can help their organization make a difference, one person at a time. We are excited to cheer them on as—together—they write the next chapter of a powerful story.

Krista Boan