Congratulations to Brown University Executive Master in Healthcare Leadership (EMHL) 2017 and CEO at Nutrimedy Karolina Starczak. Nutrimedy won first place at the fourth annual Connected Patient Challenge sponsored by Boston Scientific and Google.
Following pitches from contestants, a panel of four judges awarded the top prize and $30,000 of in-kind support to Nutrimedy, a HIPAA-compliant mobile and web service that connects patients to registered dietitians. The platform is backed by an algorithm that matches patients to professionals from across the US who specialize in providing nutrition guidance personalized to their specific chronic condition.
Starczak and her company are definitely on a roll. She was recently featured in Medicine@Brown in an interview with Nutrimedy’s founder, Jonah Cohen ’04 MD’10, the director of Bariatric Endoscopy at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Prior to her CEO position, Starczak served as the chief nutrition officer at Nutrimedy. Read the interview below with Starczak to find out about her EMHL journey and the role it played in her promotion to CEO.
Why did you choose EMHL?
I started my career in healthcare as an EMT. Responding to avoidable health tragedies triggered my passion for preventive medicine and my career choice to become a registered dietitian. I quickly found myself working outside hospital settings with employers such as CNBC and Raytheon. In these positions, I was able to implement population health programs both nationally and internationally.
Eventually, I advanced into a director of population health role at an insurance brokerage where I incorporated a much broader data-driven approach that involved additional stakeholders – health plans, disease management vendors, and even vendors providing ancillary benefits. It was at that point that I began to seek an opportunity to further expand my expertise in healthcare in areas such as policy, health IT and on the business front.
Brown’s healthcare business leadership curriculum coupled with its online/residential format was a perfect fit. I appreciated its focus on professionals with a sophisticated industry perspective and goal to impact and challenge the status quo. The blended learning curriculum allowed me to progress my career at work while at the same time benefit from high-quality face-to-face engagement with faculty and cohort members.
As a recent alum, do you think EMHL has impacted your career?
Absolutely. EMHL helped me challenge myself by taking on my new role with Nutrimedy. It armed me with a uniquely comprehensive perspective which expanded my ability to think critically as I continue building out our roadmap and market strategy to drive the company forward.
This 360-degree industry perspective is vital for growth in any modern company. A strong business is multidimensional and ever–evolving. As leaders, we need the ability to conceptualize next steps on multiple planes simultaneously. When I think about Nutrimedy, I aim to go beyond a narrow linear path and expand our platform to better integrate into hospital and company workflows, meet the needs of consumers, and bring down the price point to improve access through strategic partnerships.
Can you be more specific about how EMHL helped you think outside the box
Curriculum: The curriculum enabled me to expand my business acumen not only through the coursework but by helping me leverage my existing knowledge and apply it to healthcare-specific case studies and projects. Because the content was customized for healthcare professionals, we never had to adjust the lens to see how the coursework fit into the big picture within our industry. The curricular design made the information immediately applicable in our daily professional lives.
Cohort: The diverse cohort played an equally critical role. In our midweek discussions, we would get together online and tackle healthcare topics from different angles. The group’s transparency and honesty enabled us to step outside our comfort zone, see the world from each others’ perspectives, and gain a greater understanding of healthcare’s intricacies and complexities. Even though we’ve graduated, we continue to reach out to each other to better see the gaps between how an idea looks on paper and how it will play out across the healthcare system. It’s a unique professional network that I’ll have for life.
Leadership: EMHL provided a safe space for me to test and hone my skills across various functions. For my Critical Challenge Project (CCP), I deliberately focused on a subject outside the expertise of my existing network to force myself to engage and influence new audiences. The experience prepared me for a big part of my role as the CEO of a startup – pitching to investors and prospective clients.
What’s your major takeaway from the program?
To succeed in the healthcare sector today you need a 360-degree perspective. I graduated with industry insights that would have essentially required me to have worked in every area of healthcare. This program accelerated that necessary acquisition of knowledge enabling me to go out and leverage my skill set to make a greater impact than I would have been able to otherwise.