Miriam Paramore talks with Snyder about her work and what keeps her engaged, why it's critical to help women thrive, and also about the pursuit of the ever elusive “balance.”
Miriam: One of the things I love about writing these profiles is the chance to personally get to know impressive female executives. I admire your accomplishments – from start-ups to growth stage to investing to mentoring. How did your upward trajectory start in health IT?
Michele: I started with Epocrates in 1999 – and remember, this was way before the iPhone! I was one of the first 20 employees. We were working out of a warehouse, using doors as desktops and trying to get doctors to buy Palm Pilots! I was responsible for building the physician network – which eventually reached over 70 percent of U.S. physicians and drove our ‘freemium’ strategy, which led to a significant direct revenue stream. I loved proving the naysayers who said “doctors won’t use technology” wrong.
Miriam: And you’ve brought that wealth of experience to Welltok, which is continuing to do well at the intersection of population health and consumerism. From this vantage point, what healthcare trends do you think are most transformative right now?
Michele: The healthcare industry is finally getting to the point where we have to pay more attention to the healthcare consumer, and put the consumer at the center of decisions. We are all seeking ways to influence behavior for the better, now with a focus on technology.
Miriam: Why is working in healthcare still important to you after 25 years?
Michele: In order to work hard and be motivated, I have to really believe in something both professionally and personally. As people are forced to become more financially accountable for their health, we have to provide them the tools and resources to be healthier. Putting the consumer front and center is motivation for me. People demand – and deserve – more regarding their health and our industry needs to move its one-size-fits-all mentality to create personalized experiences. We have the technology – there are no more excuses!
Miriam: You and I share a passion for helping women thrive in the health IT industry. What makes you crazy and what makes you hopeful?
Michele: Throughout my career, it’s been frustrating to see how few women rise to the C-suite. I have often seen how women discount themselves and take themselves out of the running. Sometimes it’s intentional because they just don’t want to put up with whatever B.S. is happening in the work world at the time, but often it’s because they just don’t hype themselves as well as men do. One thing that makes me feel better is when I see HIMSS and other organizations like C-Sweetener, the online mentoring group that I work with, bringing focus and organization to the development of women in our field.
Miriam: One thing that makes me crazy is the low percentage of woman in the venture capital world (entrepreneurs and investors) – at almost any level. You have experience working with investors and as an advisor to start-ups and early stage companies. Where are all the girls?
Michele: Whether raising a fund from LPs or raising money from a venture firm when growing a small company, it often comes down to how women pitch. I’ve seen tons of these pitches and women are typically more conservative/ realistic about their plans and projections. Sometimes this makes the investment opportunity appear less attractive, though it’s likely realistic and frankly a better bet.
Miriam: My face is the eye roll emoji right now, but I agree! A woman might have the better business plan and the more realistic pro forma, and lose to a man who is more compelling in his pitch even though his plan is smoke and mirrors. Lots we can all learn there!
As we shift this convo to the illusive topic of balance, I have a very basic question. How do you do all of your day jobs (Welltok, one board, and three advisory boards)? That’s overwhelming even before we get to balancing your personal life.
Michele: I’ve found that “balance” ebbs and flows over time. It’s not a matter of having equal balance every single day – it’s a matter of balancing things out over time. I have four pillars in my life – work, family, friends, and community. It’s pretty hard to keep them all in balance at the same time, but if one of them becomes too neglected, I know I need to make some adjustments in one or more of the other areas.
Miriam Paramore is COO and Acting CTO at Lucro, a digital platform that helps healthcare organizations make better purchasing decisions. She is a health IT investor, private equity advisor, and start-up mentor. Paramore is a HIMSS Fellow, former chair of the HIMSS Revenue Cycle Committee, and a past member of the HIMSS North America board.