Mentoring Mondays 2024

January 8, 2024

Lisa-Jean Clifford
COO and Chief Strategy Officer, Gestalt Diagnostics

Emcee:  Dr. Matthew Luo

Q - Outside of academia, what kinds of opportunities are there for physicians with informatics backgrounds in industry? 
LJ - Vendor companies are always looking for a practical-use perspective.  There is the clinical workflow - AI - digital workflow, as well as education and research.  As a physician, you can bring unique perspectives to how those applications can be improved and continue to be developed.  You can participate through advisory boards, as researchers, etc.  There are other ways you can partner with the industry market as well – as a researcher, you can bring your experience with products back to academic institutions and share close insight with institutions that don’t have as much exposure to new products.  This knowledge can be shared with educators and students alike.

Q - What are specific challenges you have faced as a female leader? 
LJ - There were more challenges in the past than there are today with being a female leader in this industry.  Our industry has become a lot more open and progressive over the years.  The best advice I can give to anybody with a goal to leadership is to simply focus on doing your job in the best way.  Do not focus on gender, race, etc. Just like in every aspect of life, you need to be 'blind' to any personal attributes other than skill, knowledge and personality of all of your colleagues.  Prove yourself through your drive, passion, dedication, knowledge and experience to an organization.

Q - As a pathology resident, how can I better prepare for an informatics career in the industry, given that most of our exposure is more oriented towards academia and/or practice?
LJ - If you are looking to work for a vendor company, they are always looking for people with direct industry experience and education in the areas of product, implementation, testing, sales, and validation side.  In the hospital or clinic setting, if they don't already have a department or roles focused on informatics, then you will need to find ways to champion new technologies by proving value.  Start by looking for pain-points, then seek out colleagues/allies and build coalitions towards supporting your ideas to use technology to improve processes and/or patient care.

Q - When we need to look for custom solutions, the answer is often that “we can’t build it for you – that it has be system-wide,” and “that’s not something that we can do for you.”  How do you recommend we deal with that kind of challenge? 
LJ - This depends on the priority – is custom development and interoperability part of the solutions that a vendor offers?  Many larger vendors may need to see the value of several customers requesting the same features, so look at other customers of that vendor - come together to find like needs and approach the vendor as a whole to get items added into their development cycle.  I would recommend that when you are looking at new products, look for a company that is collaborative.  That has lean, fast, development cycles and who is continually innovating.  The best match for a partnership in an emergency technology space is not always one that has everything today, but one who is willing and able to work with you to support your needs today, 3, 5 and 10 years out. They might not have everything you want, but if their core is solid and they have a collaborative product development philosophy, you are probably better off.

Q - What do you look for in an industry job?  How do you sift through all of the different companies?
LJ - Look at each company’s core philosophy – are they only revenue-driven or do they focus on providing solutions that make a difference in addition to generating revenue?  The culture is extremely important - look at the senior management team and what their background and experience is - are they proven leaders with experience in the industry?  Talk to other employees, LinkedIn is a great way to connect with them.  When looking for an industry job, the best advice I ever got was don’t be afraid to interview – you are as much interviewing the company as they are interviewing you.