Technology

A top young executive at a 160-year-old health system reveals why leaders looking to disrupt healthcare from within can’t think in decade-long timeframes

Sara Vaezy, the 36-year-old chief digital strategy officer for West Coast health system Providence St. Joseph Health, is in charge of mapping out the digital future of the hospital. 
Vaezy is one of Business Insider’s 30 leaders under 40 transforming the future of healthcare. 
We asked her to share her best advice for others getting started in the industry and looking to make a difference. Here’s what she told us.
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Sara Vaezy came to Providence St. Joseph Health by accident.
Vaezy started her career as a physics major in undergrad, going on to work as a research scientist for a medical device company. After considering medical school, Vaezy instead decided to pursue a master’s degree in public health as well as a master’s in healthcare administration.
Rather than be involved directly in caring for patients, she was interested in setting up systems that would make it easier for other caregivers to do that themselves. Next, she worked as a hospital consultant. 
Read more: The hospital in Amazon’s backyard has a plan to disrupt itself before being disrupted by big tech companies
It was through her work as a consultant that she ran into Providence, the West Coast-based health system that runs 51 hospitals and made $24 billion in revenue in 2018. The organization has a history dating back to the mid-1800s.  She had asked her team to prepare a case study on the health system. But once she learned what the organization was doing with its digital strategy, she was hooked. 
‘I caught the bug’
“I caught the bug,” Vaezy said. 
Three and a half years in, Vaezy is chief digital strategy officer for Providence, working to figure out the strategy that will make care accessible and affordable. For instance, Providence is working on spinning out a same-day-care platform called ExpressCare aimed at helping patients book appointments, as well as formalizing an internal incubator.
For her work, Business Insider named Vaezy to its list of 30 healthcare leaders under 40 transforming the future of the industry. 
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Vaezy’s four crucial pieces of advice
Vaezy had four pieces of career advice for those looking to make a difference in the healthcare industry:

Have resilience going into it. It’s not going to be easy, and you’re going to hit challenges as you work to transform healthcare. “There will be inertia working against you and them and me and all of us. It’s important to remember that and not get discouraged,” Vaezy said.  
Try different things. Vaezy said she doesn’t think about her career in 10 to 20 year timeframes. Instead, she asks herself how she could best spend her next three to five years. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting locked in. “The market is changing so much, the world is changing so much. 10 years ago we weren’t anticipating that Amazon and Google and Apple would be in healthcare,” Vaezy said. Letting one career course guide a decade could limit career possibilities.
Keep an ultimate focus. “Remembering, ‘I’m here to help people, I’m here to serve.’ it helps power through when things get tough and they get tough really often,” Vaezy said.  
“Get in there.” There’s nothing more important than experiences, and it’s easier to do that once you get your hands dirty by working directly in the industry. “All of my experiences, nothing has been more valuable than actually being in a healthcare setting and seeing what it’s like to get things done in healthcare,” Vaezy said. 

Vaezy is one of Business Insider’s 30 leaders under 40 transforming the future of healthcare. Read the full list here. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What apple cider vinegar really does to your body, according to a doctor


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