A chance meeting on an airplane leads to more smiles being healed

03 April 2014 | Dr. William P. Magee, Jr., Co-Founder and CEO of Operation Smile

There are no ordinary moments in life. Yet, most of us don’t recognize the most significant moments when they happen. I had one such moment a few years back. On a plane en route to Seattle from one of our Operation Smile medical missions in Asia, I ended up sitting next to Paul Smolke, industry managing director of worldwide health for Microsoft, and we just happened to start talking. This ordinary occurrence of making conversation with a seatmate on a long flight led to a series of events that have empowered us at Operation Smile to heal more smiles and dream big.

Operation Smile is the largest volunteer-based medical charity providing free cleft surgeries. We believe every child deserves access to safe, high-quality surgical care — and a future filled with hope. Currently working in over 60 countries, we’ve provided more than 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults born with cleft lip, cleft palate, and other facial deformities.

We’re privileged to be able to take a child from hopelessness to possibility. If we don’t capitalize on this ability to its maximum, shame on us. 

That’s why our relationship with Microsoft is so powerful. The company has donated technology that is helping us scale our efforts so we can do even more to transform lives around the globe.

As you can imagine, organizing and coordinating surgical missions, volunteers, and staff around the world is quite a logistical undertaking. We’ve been using Microsoft Office 365 to streamline the communication and collaboration involved with doing so. We especially love web conferencing with Microsoft Lync because it enables our geographically dispersed team members to convene via video team meetings. That face-to-face contact really makes a difference in establishing trust and strong connections among the teams.

We’re also using Microsoft OneDrive to easily share documents and keep everything up to date in one place. We have also moved our email to the cloud so it’s available to our staff and volunteers at all times.

In addition to using Office 365, we plan to digitize our medical records, which has phenomenal potential not just from a sheer efficiency standpoint, but also from a research standpoint. Being able to quickly look at things like the relationship between demographics and the incidence of cleft as well as analyzing treatments and outcomes so we can improve our global quality of care are just a couple examples of the insight digital records will provide us.

In other words, Microsoft technology is enabling us to work smarter and more efficiently so we can do more with our resources. This also means that we’re making the best use of our donors’ gifts — something we’re deeply committed to.

If I were to put it in a nutshell, Microsoft has allowed us to dream very, very big. Because now we can put the technology behind our dreams to make them happen. Who knew that an ordinary moment on an airplane could have such extraordinary potential for creating positive change in the world?

I look forward to sharing more in the weeks to come about how we’re using Microsoft technology to scale the talents and capabilities of our amazing staff and volunteers so we can expand our impact.

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Dr. William P. Magee, Jr.
Co-Founder and CEO of Operation Smile

Microsoft in Health Blog

About the Author

Dr. William P. Magee, Jr. | Co-Founder and CEO of Operation Smile

William P. Magee Jr., D.D.S., M.D., is a leading plastic and craniofacial surgeon who founded Operation Smile in 1982 with his wife, Kathleen S. Magee, and serves as the organization's Chief Executive Officer. Read more