THE BLOG
10/02/2014 11:44 am ET Updated Dec 02, 2014

Women in Business Q&A: Laurie McGraw, President and CEO of Shareable Ink

Laurie McGraw joined Shareable Ink in June 2013 as President and Chief Executive Officer and is also a member of the Board of Directors. Laurie brings more than 20 years of executive leadership and a proven track record of leading rapid growth in the healthcare IT industry.

Prior to joining Shareable Ink, McGraw was most recently Chief Client Officer of Allscripts (NASDAQ: MDRX) and also spent the majority of her tenure as President of Allscripts' fastest growing EHR business unit. McGraw joined Allscripts when it was a $30 million company with five initial clients through its growth to a $1.5 billion company serving the needs of tens of thousands of clients across the healthcare spectrum.

Laurie holds a Sc.B. with honors in Cognitive Science from Brown University and is a recent graduate of the FutureMed program at Singularity University. As a passionate outdoor enthusiast, Laurie also serves on Yellowstone Park Foundation's Advisory Board.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
It is all certainly cumulative. I am fortunate in that I've been able to build on the many different choices I have made over the years. A move to California post-college, landing my first "career", working on projects that had impossible goals, but not knowing any better and working towards them anyway, making career choices that were right for me, but not necessarily right for everyone. I tend to use my past experiences to inform my current choices or decisions and I also tend to look for the positive learning that comes from any situation whether it's positive or very challenging. Without question, things that have been the most challenging experiences in life have been the greatest opportunities for learning and growth.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Shareable Ink?
Over my years in healthcare IT, I have led development teams, sales teams, business units, services and support teams. I have been directly responsible for teams, products, clients and I have held influencer positions where I was accountable for objectives with certain teams. All of these roles have given me tremendous experience for my current role as CEO where all of these areas and more are part of the job.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Shareable Ink?
Highlights include working with a very innovative, high energy company with leading clients who are very focused on using clinical documentation technology to achieve their patient safety and quality outcome objectives. This continues to be very exciting for me, and why I joined Shareable Ink in the first place.

Some of the challenges, which I already knew going into this, are that I would want to move faster even as we build out needed processes or disciplines. It is easy to make changes in a younger, nimble company, and I love that, but it also requires ongoing discipline to ensure these changes are effective or achieve the desired results.

Why did you want a career in the healthcare IT industry?
I didn't choose healthcare IT - but I did get lucky falling into it. What I did want though was to focus my career in an area where I could work on the intersection of technology and human cognition. There is such an enormous opportunity in healthcare where technology can improve patient outcomes, which means a lot. Plus, you are working with some of the most dedicated and smart people out there - clinicians. I love this space - the problems are complex, people and populations are in dire need of better healthcare, the cost equation is staggering and understanding how all of the factors of physicians and technology and financial impacts work together is amazingly complicated. Yet, every day being able to say, I am working on something that is directly tied to making improvements here, that provides better patient outcomes - that is personally very meaningful. Again, I do feel lucky that I fell into healthcare IT.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking a career in healthcare IT?
Today, there are more jobs available in healthcare IT than there are qualified skilled workers. That said, understanding where those opportunities are can be very confusing to someone early in their career. I would suggest getting involved in local HIMSS chapters or other industry-type groups. Also, taking advantage of the many free publications to be educated on trends and current events. Or doing an internship; we have several here at Shareable Ink and many healthcare IT companies do. Last, networking really is available to anyone, but it requires being courageous enough to ask strangers for information, advice or guidance. I would advise mustering the courage to network - you learn a lot and you build skills that are of value to you throughout your career.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
People always ask women leaders this question!! For me, the lines where work and life start and end are blurred at best and quite frankly, I just stopped trying to define my life into compartments that were work and life. I prefer to just spend a lot of time on things that matter to me - spending time with colleagues, co-workers, clients, who are pushing the boundaries of what is possible to make significant advancements in healthcare; being with my family, which gives me energy, encouragement and joy; and a host of other things I like doing. I find life balance when I am spending the right amount of time on things that matter; it matters less to me if that is related to my job or not.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Women, as a general rule, do not ask out loud for what they want. That is the biggest issue. It may be because of a lack of confidence or positive role models, oppressive work places, or other things. They all exist, but I do not think that is the issue. I think women do not ask out loud. And every time you want, or think someone should have understood what you meant even though you didn't say it, it matters and it is an issue and it holds you back.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I have been incredibly fortunate to have had a few great mentors over the years. People that I have been able to confide in as to what I aspire to do or what I might be afraid or worried about. These mentors have been people who also believe in me, who have provided encouragement, but far more importantly, have pushed me well beyond my comfort zone or my blind spots, which have been some of the greatest learning opportunities of my life.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Pam Pure, CEO of HealthMedx, has been a long time friend, mentor, and is a tremendous business leader in healthcare IT, having worked with all different size organizations from dot-com to multi-billion to high growth. Her perspective on the market, and what is important to focus on and different ways to solve complex problems has been invaluable to me over the years.

What do you want Shareable Ink to accomplish in the next year?
Shareable Ink has a great clinical documentation data capture platform that has worked really well for our clients. In the next year, I would like us to broaden our reach for healthcare providers (physicians, nurses, medical scribes etc.) and within emerging technology markets such as Ambulatory Surgery Centers to use Shareable to save lives and deliver better quality care more cost effectively.