Summer 2017 Newsletter - WHIT Inaugural “Path to Success” with NorCal HIMSS

By Sherri Douville, CEO for Medigram, Inc, @SherriDouville
The WHIT/Women in Health IT Committee, @WomenInHealthIT

WHIT (Women in Healthcare IT) was founded in 2015 with an objective to seed, incubate, and advance women’s career aspirations in Healthcare IT. Affiliated with both NorCal and SoCal HIMSS Chapters, WHIT is led by women in executive and senior leadership IT roles who are passionate about bringing more female talent to Healthcare IT.

With HIMSS, WHIT held its inaugural event, “Path to Success,” on May 19 at the Presidio in San Francisco. “Path to Success” aspired to provide career advice and mentoring to women and girls interested in furthering their careers in IT and STEM. Chaired by Sunny Cooper, CIO of San Francisco Health Plan, and Melissa Scrymgeour, CIO of Gold Coast Health Plan, the event was headlined by Healthcare IT’s top women including political advisors, journalists, C‐level executives, and technologists. Jason Johnson, Board Member for NorCal HIMSS, provided substantial additional leadership and support planning. A huge thanks goes to Sunny's staff for all their hard work on the event, in particular to Corinne Young and Van Wong.

There were no‐holds-barred discussions about achieving success as women in HIT. Discussions were very frank and covered many of the challenges and negotiations women need to own in both their personal and professional lives to thrive in the workplace. Topics included communication strategies, the importance of taking risks, overcoming obstacles, and mentoring-two-way, for example, 32 year olds bi-mentoring 50 year olds in mobile tech and management skills respectively.

There was much discussion on the significance of the strength of a woman's team and her network of support, including her spouse's starring role in her success. It was suggested that spousal selection and their support are important considerations to the success of a woman's future career.

Women leaders also shared their first‐hand experiences and spent dedicated time answering questions and facilitating small group table discussions. These subjects included paths to and tips for career progression, changing jobs, and working at or creating a startup.

Despite carrying an 80 hour work week and being on the heels of closing her Series A financing, Mylea Charvat, CEO of Savonix, maker of an app for neurocognitive assessment, described why she fully participated in the event.

"The top takeaway is we need to have more forums where we candidly discuss things like implicit bias and how to support women in healthtech. As a woman CEO and technical founder, I am passionate about sharing with and helping women develop their careers in STEM."

The day‐long event was organized into three tracks:

  1. Keynote: featuring an established woman who has “made it” in the field. Healthcare political advisor Nichole Fisher showcased her path to success story.
  2. Panel Conversation: featuring four successful women in different Healthcare IT fields who shared their path to success in a facilitated Q&A session.

Pictured from right to left: Moderator Melissa Scrymgeour and Panelists Sherri Douville (CEO, Medigram, & Board Member), Dr. Mylea Charvat (CEO & Founder, Savonix), Rachel Katz (CEO, Able Health), and Stevie Ryan (President, NorCal HIMSS).

  1. Intimate Table Discussions: Each table explored specific skills and allowed discussion for how attendees could advance their careers by helping to both identify and develop the know‐how skills.

When describing her drive to bring the event to fruition, NorCal HIMSS President Stevie Ryan shared, “I am incredibly passionate about bringing meaningful programs to our Healthcare IT community in the Bay Area, and this event in particular spoke to me. There is a great need for camaraderie amongst women in the healthcare space, and I felt the need to include and involve as many amazing women as I could to give back and share their experiences. This is why I also enlisted the help of Sherri Douville, CEO for Medigram, Inc.

Pictured Right to Left: Leanna Fries, Lauren Sison, Laura Bravo, MBA and Amy Zhang from Stanford Healthcare IT