Social psychology shows that if you say thanks you're happier. Recently, Georgetown asked me to write a piece on my mentor-mentee relationship during grad school. You might know that I was an Innovation Fellow at the Office of the National Coordinator in 2010. While I was there, Special Assistant Wil Yu became my "Health IT and Innovation 101" guide. I definitely owe my health IT know-how to Wil and am certain that working with him changed the trajectory of my career (for the good!!!). Here's what I submitted to GU, it's a puff piece, but I think the gratitude comes through (their slightly modified post can be found here)
I chose the Georgetown Master of Health Systems Administration because of its sterling reputation, proximity to Capitol Hill, and tailored student support. Indeed, Georgetown encourages its students to explore their interests through internships, practicums, and mentor engagements. When I came to Georgetown I was able to establish a mentoring relationship with Wil Yu, Special Assistant to the National Coordinator and Senior Advisor at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation at the US Department of Health and Human Services.
So, what does Wil do? A better question is, what doesn’t Wil do. He’s ONC’s go-to market analyst for the electronic health record, health information exchange, and mobile technology markets. He engages the Venture Capital community and leads the HHS CTO and White House Startup America DC-to-VC initiative. He’s the project officer for the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research (SHARP) program. He helped create the “Investing in Innovations” program (i2) which spurs innovation in healthcare and community building in a manner which drives down the cost curve and improves patient care.
Wil had me work on projects and go to events which allowed me to meet literally hundreds of people in the Health IT space -- patients, providers, third-party payers, technology vendors, innovators, and government employees. I had opportunities to meet HHS heavy hitters—Surgeon General Benjamin, Acting CMS Administrator Don Berwick, and National Coordinators past, present, and future: Kolodner, Blumenthal, and Mostashari.
My time with Wil helped me gain a working understanding of the health IT space and an expertise in mobile health (mHealth), but more importantly, it gave me an appreciation for collaboration. While I was at ONC, Wil and Dr. Yael Harris, Director of HRSA’s Office of Health IT and Quality (OHITQ) had recognized the need for a forum to share mHealth related best practices. They were in the process of founding the Federal mHealth Collaborative and asked me to help stand up the effort. When I moved to OHITQ to complete the Georgetown MHSA Practicum, I continued to work on the Collaborative and helped Yael and her colleague Dr. Sherilyn Pruitt, with the support of the White House, initiate the Federal Telehealth Collaborative.
Without the guidance I received from Wil, I know I would not have been named the 2011 NCA Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Graduate Scholar, been asked to Chair HIMSS Mobile Policy and Regulatory Implications workgroup, or landed a fellowship at the Food and Drug Administration. While I’m happy to have received these honors, I know the fellowship learning experience was worth so much more. I think I learned so much from Wil because of his philosophy on mentorships, namely, he doesn’t do them. He does “apprenticeships.” Less talking, more doing. By working with Wil, I had the opportunity to actively interrogate the concepts learned in the Georgetown classroom through the lens of American policy. I know I’ve learned from a master healthcare innovator and that I’ll use the tools of innovation to improve future of the American health system.