#HealthITChicks Spotlight Interview: Nirav Modi (@niravjmodi)

This month’s spotlight shines on Nirav Modi (@niravjmodi), co-founder of Carium and host of this month’s #healthITchicks chat on Wednesday, April 18 from 1-2pm ET.

What prompted you to enter – and stay in – the health IT field?

I spent the first 20 years of my career innovating in the telecommunications industry. Last year, I decided that I wanted to pursue a field where my efforts resulted in a more direct positive social impact and helped people.

I started exploring the role of technology in healthcare, the history of digital health, etc. I uncovered several areas where technology could make a meaningful, positive impact.  I also met many incredible people that encouraged and inspired. #HealthITChicks, #hcldr, #pinksocks, #HITsm, and #HITmc are a few of the wonderful groups that have been incredibly kind and generous with their insights and support.

Through the discovery phase, I came across consistent and powerful thought-leadership focused on the transformation of healthcare. This forward-thinking, as well as the ongoing innovation, cemented my belief that I could find ways to be helpful.

 Has your work in the field helped to improve patient care?

Our goal at Carium is to help individuals manage their health journeys in a more comprehensive way. We are excited to make a difference. While we have just started on our path, the team is enthusiastic and inspired to design and deliver thoughtful solutions that help us achieve our mission. We are excited to partner with other organizations and people that share our vision for individualized healthcare.

What health IT development/product has you excited about its potential to improve care access/quality/cost, etc.?

I am most excited about leveraging technology to help make healthcare experiences more seamless for individuals. Most people experience healthcare as a very disparate and fragmented journey. Data is not portable, and there is little continuity and clarity for an individual who is trying to navigate through a particular health or wellness condition, chronic or otherwise.

Data interoperability will be a key enabler of this, and the recent elevation of discussions related to interoperability and open APIs are promising. Further, the advances of genomics and machine learning can enable care plans to be constructed in an individualized way that was previously not possible. Eric Topol’s book, “The Patient Will See You Now,” is a great read and lays out an exciting future-medicine based on data and personalization.

The #healthITchicks community believes strongly in doing good and giving back. What are your favorite ways to give back, personally and/or professionally?

Giving back to the community has been important throughout my life. Growing up in Papua New Guinea, I volunteered at a school for children who were unable to hear or speak. My time there has left strong impressions on me. In the USA, I have been involved with a variety of causes, including Habitat for Humanity, and the ASPCA.

At this point in my career, I feel equipped to give back on the professional front and look forward to the opportunity to provide mentorship in the technology community, including #healthITchicks members.

When it comes to personal and professional development, who or what has had the biggest impact on yours?

On the personal front, it has been a combination of time (age) and embracing new experiences. Meeting people with different backgrounds, contexts, motivations and new perspectives has helped me understand my own strengths, as well as highlighted areas that I have needed to work on.

Professionally, I have been fortunate to have worked with some inspiring leaders; some will be lifelong mentors. I have also had some amazing colleagues who I look up to and learn from.

The key for me has been to put myself in environments where both my peers and leaders exhibit behaviors that not only complement my own skills and strengths, but also traits that I aspire toward. It is so important to have that “True North.”

Diversity has been a very important element for me as well. I have collaborated with many brilliant women, and with teams that span the globe and cultures. You have to learn how to adapt to the context; individual, team, site, geography, customer, product, etc. Context has many dimensions.

In terms of career advice for younger colleagues, what do you wish you had known then that you know now?

Find a job you enjoy. It is much easier to do amazing things when you are motivated and inspired. Ask yourself, what do you aspire to do? What difference do you want to make in the world? Surround yourself with people that can help you get there.

What are you looking forward to chatting about during the #healthITchicks tweet chat on April 18? 

  • The imbalance between men and women in STEM starts in the education system, even though children are exposed to a similar curriculum during their early educational years. What drives this divergence and what could we do to help address it?
  • What workplace policies would make a job more or less favorable to women? Any specific examples?
  • What sort of mentoring opportunities would be helpful for women?
  • What specific innovation in healthcare are you most passionate about and why?
  • Have you experienced healthcare outside the USA? What was your experience?

Just for fun: What is your favorite book? How has it impacted you?

One of my recent favorites is “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi. I read that book before I decided to explore healthcare. It is special to me because it reminds us of what is at the essence of life and joy.

Join Nirav Modi (@niravjmodi) on Wednesday, April 18 at 1pm ET for the next #healthITchicks tweet chat. You can also connect with the community on LinkedIn via the #healthITchicks group

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