#HealthITChicks Spotlight Interview: Catherine Valyi (@CatherineValyi) and Emmy Weber (@EmmyWeber1)

This month’s spotlight shines on Catherine Valyi (@CatherineValyi), president of Strategic Marketing Solutions, and Emmy Weber (@EmmyWeber1), chief marketing officer of Surgical Information Systems. They are also co-founders of Women with Dynamic Purpose, and co-hosts of the #healthITchicks tweet chat on Wednesday, August 15 at 1pm ET.


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

EW: The company I worked for had a healthcare vertical that I gravitated toward and when that division was sold, I joined them. I stay because our products make a difference and I’m constantly growing and challenged. Mentoring within my profession has been very gratifying, and although Women with Dynamic Purpose is not a healthcare-focused organization, many of our supporters are in the healthcare field.

CV: I tripped into healthcare. My mother helped me get a job at an executive clinic in New York City, and I never looked back. Working with healthcare professionals and later with medical devices, technology and services was a great fit for me. I could have one foot in the world of corporate America and the other in healthcare, which seemed to match my inner need and desire to help people while enjoying the structure and interaction of the business setting.

Has your work in the field helped to improve patient care (directly or indirectly)? How?

EW: Delivering surgical software solutions helps our clients to deliver smoother, safer surgeries. Anesthesia, for example, is an area that still has a lot of paper records. We deliver tools and workflows to electronically document that key function in surgery without impacting care or slowing down workflow.

CV: As a marketer, providing information that helped educate the market to help provide better care for patients is what I am most proud of. My personal experience in the healthcare ecosystem made it clear to me that providing quality, truthful information was a gateway to helping various levels of healthcare. Better technology and information usually translated to a heightened experience for the patients.

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

EW: Next-generation, cloud-based, clinical documentation looks nothing like the early days of EHRs, and with analytics using the healthcare data that is generated, it has the potential to vastly impact access, quality and cost of care.

CV: While working for a clinical integration company, I witnessed technology that actually helped make the goal of aggregating data in a useful and reportable format a reality. Ultimately getting access to all your medical data, no matter where it resides, is the nirvana for patients, physician and researchers. I really got the sense that this group was making it happen – it was very exciting. There are other advancements around release of information that I have recently witnessed that are exciting as well.

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

EW: I view my work with Women With Dynamic Purpose as the culmination of my giving back. Seeing so many experienced professional women still hit a ceiling or being derailed mid-career is why I invest so much time and effort to bringing the practical tools, planning, and network to this group. I also frequently mentor through an Atlanta-based women’s group that focuses on women earlier in their careers.

CV: Living in the male-dominated field of health IT, it was clear that there was room to help women, especially those rising in age. The desire to help this population remain relevant and viewed as a viable and valuable attribute for the success of the company has become my mission, and it is the essence of Women With Dynamic Purpose. Our goal is to help this population hone the skills and lay the groundwork to either continue to be promoted in their current field or figure out what their next, best move should be. As we prepare for a second annual conference, we are excited to say that the agenda and the speakers are attracting a good number, and we expect to have a full house!

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

EW: People (peers and bosses) that were invested in helping me succeed and being willing to tell me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear.

Being a lifelong learner and never getting too comfortable – feeling that part of my job is to bring new ideas and new people (voices) into my work has kept me at the top of my game.

CV: Any woman in the industry that excelled to the C-suite or stepped away and started their own business. Especially women in my age bracket, since I know how difficult breaking the barriers can be. Unfortunately, the number of women in the C-suite is declining. I hope to help, in whatever small way, change that dynamic.

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

EW: Force yourself out of your comfort zone on a regular basis.  It’s how you stretch and grow. It’s okay to be really good in an area, but expand your knowledge into other parts of the business – think lateral not just straight up.

CV: I wish I learned earlier not to focus on competition. Once I started to follow the philosophy that there was only opportunity (not competition), it was like a breath of fresh air. Suddenly the professional landscape looked very different. I started to evaluate obstacles differently; instead, I would look to find the opportunities that existed. I learned how to make chess moves that put me in the right place at the right time – all the while learning as much as I could along the way.

What are you looking forward to chatting about during the #healthITchicks tweet chat on August 15?

  • EW – Purpose: Taking the time to define what’s truly important to you will help you maintain focus and determination as you navigate your health IT options.
  • CV – Path: Evaluating different options to broaden your health IT skill set – constantly learning and applying new skills helps widen your universe of opportunity and the people in that space.
  • CV – Community: Remove barriers of competition and build a strong community. In the small universe of HIT, focusing on helping others and making friends creates a better return on your efforts.
  • EW – In the male-dominated HIT industry, what strategies have successful women employed to overcome obstacles and ageism?
  • EW – Health: Prioritizing health strategies for maturing professional women in health IT is essential for longevity – you can’t dominate the world if your health is secondary.
  • CV – Self-Marketing: Articulating your business value and using your voice to make certain you don’t fly under the radar is one of the first steps in self-promotion, which can be hard for women in this industry.

Just for fun: What is your favorite vacation getaway spot/place to travel to? 

EW: My hideaway is New Smyrna Beach, Florida. It’s old school Florida at its best, and I need to stop telling people about it because it’s getting ‘known.’ I love to hear the waves of the Atlantic ocean crashing – for me there’s nothing better than being on the water, in the sun. It’s where I go recharge.

CV: My favorite vacation getaway is Turks and Caicos. It reminds me of Martinique (where my Mom and Dad are from), but it’s only a two-hour direct flight from Atlanta!

As you go through Customs in Turks and Caicos, there are two lines. One is everyone not from the island, and the other is for the ‘Be-Longer’s. Be-Longer’s are Turks and Caicos natives or folks that have a residence there.  My goal is to be a Be-Longer and go to Turks and Caicos at least three to four times a year!

What is your favorite book? How has it impacted you?

EW: I am a voracious reader and an avowed bookworm.  In another life, I probably would have been a librarian. I find that the right book seems to find me at the right time and I am constantly referencing back to items – I flag a lot of sections and make comments, which is why I love my Kindle – it holds it all.  Right now I’ve been flipping back to the Ultimate Question as I continue to focus on bringing the voice of the customer into my work.

CV: It’s hard to pick one. I read a lot of books, and basically there is always at least one nugget of truth that helps me. However, if I had to pick one, it would be The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. It was the first book I read that taught me to breathe, do my best, and let it flow into the universe. It was the first step to letting go and to not get burdened with the fear of wondering if others would like what I shared.

Join Catherine Valyi (@CatherineValyi) and Emmy Weber (@EmmyWeber1) on Wednesday, August 15 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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