This month’s spotlight shines on Kathleen Ellmore (@kellmore1), vice president of engagement sciences at Silverlink Communications (a Welltok company) and host of the #healthITchicks tweetchat on Wednesday, March 15 at 1pm ET. Raised in Boston, with stints in Chicago and Minneapolis, Kathleen and her family have called the Boston suburbs home for the last 15 years. “I need to stop picking cities that have so much snow!” she jokes.
Kathleen’s favorite causes include the Pan Mass Challenge bicycle race, Susan G. Komen 3-Day, and the Jimmy Fund supporting Boston Children’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – all of which she has been involved with for several years. More recent charitable endeavors include helping out Canine Companions for Independence, the therapeutic BINA Farm Center, and the Girl Scouts.
She admits it’s hard to choose a favorite app. “Being in healthcare, I see thousands of apps that are really cool but that don’t gain adoption. That’s one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about what we do at Welltok. Our platform brings all those great innovations together and matches them with the right user. I also love apps that make my life easier. I am always on Uber, Yelp, Pandora, and of course, Twitter!
When it comes to music, Kathleen loves adult alternative, pop, and some country. “The last concert I saw a few weeks ago was Rascal Flatts with my daughter,” she says. “The hands down best concert I have ever seen was Bruce Springsteen’s last concert at Gillette, where he played for four hours straight.”
What’s the biggest leap of faith you’ve taken during your career? How has that impacted where you are now?
I have always loved working at the intersection of consumers and technology. When I left the consumer world, where I had spent most of my career, to join healthcare 10 years ago, I was astonished at how low-tech the entire industry still was. At the time, it felt like healthcare was truly a decade or more behind the rest of the world in using technology to engage consumers. Additionally, I couldn’t believe how non-consumer friendly the entire industry was. When I heard the term “disease management,” I thought a co-worker made it up. I told him that the term disease management will never fly – it is too negative! No consumer wants to think of themselves as diseased. He laughed and told me there was already a multi-billion dollar industry built around that term!
Being an early voice in driving better consumer health engagement through technology has allowed me to really make an impact in connecting consumers to their health through technology. I love my work, and am so glad that I took the detour to healthcare! Sometimes you have to take a leap.
When it comes to professional development, what has had the biggest impact on yours?
I think a love of learning and terrific leaders have had the most significant impact on my career. I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked for leaders who empower their people and encourage them to take risks. I am curious by nature and get excited by challenges and continued learning.
Finally, mentors both formal and informal are so important in any industry, but in this rapidly changing and frenetically paced world of healthcare technology, mentors are even more important. Assume everyone you work for are informal mentors, meaning find what is great about their leadership and figure out how you can adopt some of the same strategies.
What advice can you offer younger women looking to break into healthcare technology, or those looking to join the C-suite?
Be curious. Test and learn. Find what you love to do and be great at it. That sounds easy, but it sometimes takes time. As a marketer, I realized the favorite part of my job was when I was immersed in the data, teasing out consumer insights. Now my passion as vice president of engagement sciences for Welltok is finding the drivers of what motivates consumers in their health and behavior, and combining that with technology to both improve health and lower the extraordinary medical costs we face as a country. Being able to focus on the favorite part of my role as a marketer – namely the data – has fueled success through that passion.
What gender workplace topics have resonated with you over the last year?
I feel very blessed that I have worked for organizations and leaders that get the need for flexibility. My advice for women is always that you can have it all, but you certainly can’t do it all. Farm out the tasks that are not your favorite so you can concentrate on what you love and where you excel! For example, my husband does all the cooking, so I can focus on our kids and work. I think flexibility and creativity are the themes for the future. If an employer can provide those, then people will find their own work/life balance.
What are you looking forward to chatting about during the #healthITchicks tweetchat on March 15?
I would love chat about:
- Because consumer engagement through technology is still in its infancy, there is still so much we can learn. What are the “a-ha” moments that you have discovered in getting people engaged with health tech?
- What are folks using to manage their health and well-being, and are they working?
- I’d love to hear about a great consumer experience in healthcare – how did technology enable it? I’d also love to hear about a great consumer experience from your favorite brands and what healthcare can learn from it.
- I would love to hear about your community of health: Who are the influencers and how do you motivate each other?
- I am on a personal quest to figure out how to eat for optimal health. I’d love to hear about others’ journeys – not only what nutritional plan they follow (i.e., vegan, paleo, plant-based, Mediterranean), but how they think about and prioritize nutrition for their personal health and well-being.