South Bay’s Sherri Douville doesn’t shout her Silicon Valley bona fides to the masses—her work in mobile health tech and the community speak volumes instead.
Medigram CEO and Los Gatos native Sherri Douville
There’s an old axiom in business that reflects the life of Silicon Valley dynamo Sherri Douville: If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.
More often than not, Douville is that person. Between serving as CEO of Medigram, a mobile technology company for healthcare, and sitting on boards and mentoring young women, we wonder if Douville ever sleeps.
“When I was very young— and once I had developed mastery for my work at the time—I volunteered for as much as my schedule would allow,” says Douville, who is on the board of fellows for Santa Clara University and is an adviser to the Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business Corporate Board Education initiatives, the Black Corporate Board Readiness and LatinX Board Readiness programs. She’s also helped raise millions of dollars for causes as diverse as Ballet San Jose and the Junior League of Palo Alto.
Early in her career, Douville says volunteering was a great way to make friends. “We spent time together, and it provided a lot of social stimulation. I also tried and learned new things that way, with the type of flexibility not provided in a corporate setting. I still try to give back in a variety of ways,” she says.
Healthcare has been Douville’s professional passion for decades, and it’s this dedication to the field—and finding solutions that help save lives—that has turned heads in Silicon Valley. We sat down with Douville to discuss her career trajectory, volunteerism and what’s next.
What seeded your interest and inspiration in healthcare?
I had to step into a caregiving role from a young age for my mother, who was disabled. Interest from there grew in healthcare, and I pursued a STEM undergraduate education at Santa Clara University—a BS in combined sciences. By the time I got to college, medicine and all of the paperwork associated with it had started changing and, as most would say, not for the better.
How did you build the early scaffolding of your career?
I built trusted relationships with physicians in more than a dozen states in the medical market. I was lucky to have been—and continue to be—mentored by a number of them and was partly shaped professionally by their strong ethical drive.
After a decade at Johnson & Johnson, I became a consultant working in physician acceptance and economic feasibility. While working on a project with a surgeon, he asked me to meet with Medigram’s founder, who was a medical trainee at the time; he had made an app targeted at replacing pagers. I was one of the earliest hires to Medigram and led sales, marketing and fundraising. When the founder decided to return to medical school, the board promoted me to the CEO role nearly seven years ago.
Medigram is a breakthrough. Please explain why—and how—it will impact the lives of doctors, patients and the big picture of healthcare.
Today, a leading cause of preventable death is still a delay in information, according to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Cell phones don’t work in hospitals, due to poor connectivity. We built an application designed to work when nothing else does on mobile. For example, my husband, who is a stroke neurologist, has to work in a distributed team as quickly as possible to get the best outcomes. Time is tissue. The goal is to give physicians like him the peace of mind that only timely, secure patient health information can. When that happens, he feels like he’s enabled to do his job at the level of his professional ability. This affects doctors, patients and their families all over the world.
How does Medigram build a digital wall for privacy and security?
[We built] privacy and security into the core and every level of the Medigram solution. It’s full stack, meaning our application is a whole house; its foundation is analogous to construction. It’s not just the paint job on top—or even the doors and rooms—when you think of building a home. We then co-designed a groundbreaking implementation model to drive success for sophisticated health systems and life sciences organizations, and built medically specific marketing capability around technology, product and implementation.
We’ll be able to save hundreds of thousands of lives when we solve a leading cause of death—a delay in information.
I’m guessing workflow is a big factor in Medigram?
Health systems will be more successful with transformed mobile workflows to treat patients faster. To do so requires our specific technology that addresses the unique, intractable connectivity problems in healthcare. The latter is the reason why traditional web apps don’t work reliably much of the time in medicine. Healthcare systems will also be able to deliver on privacy and security for mobile medicine, which helps to earn the trust of their patients and win in the marketplace.
Congrats on the success ofMobile Medicine: Overcoming People, Culture, and Governance.What are the big takeaway themes in your book?
Medical technology is the ultimate multiple-position team sport. This book is about helping people see the roles the key players need to have and helps the reader—someone leading or investing in medical technology—to define the goals for those roles. It also helps them with their passing ratio, meaning passing the ball in a winning way like the Golden State Warriors. You need to have both science and technical engineering depth of expertise together with all of the key functions, such as privacy, security and more.
Investors can quickly screen for the next great opportunities, while also screening out a future Theranos. The latter failed due to knowledge gaps, technical depth challenges and advanced leadership and teamwork challenges required in medical technology.
We’re incredibly grateful to our publisher, London-based Taylor & Francis, which is one of the top academic book publishers and the leader in healthcare IT. The team really took a bet on us, and neither of us could have predicted the international acclaim and recognition outside of medicine that Mobile Medicine has garnered. It has evolved from the number-one, hottest new release in its category on Amazon to a longer-term bestseller on Amazon Kindle for medical informatics and medical technology.
Are you working on another book?
Yes, our newest book is about driving clarity and confidence in software for medical technology. This is specific for building the journey of integrating advanced technologies into medicine. Our book bridges the best of the frontlines for professional education with the academic discipline required in medicine.
This is all developed in a very nonpartisan way that focuses on the biggest areas of emerging risk and declining mistrust of technology and healthcare—including cybersecurity, medical and technical misinformation, the importance of humility in medicine, closing knowledge gaps between disciplines and driving equality.
You donate your time to many organizations—please share a few you’re excited about.
I’m excited about collaborating with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, because it’s the place where many of the smartest technologists and engineers I know spend their time. We do work there to make sure we have access and means to close knowledge gaps inherent in building next-generation, full-stack technology. I was honored to be appointed to serve as co-chair of the Trust project, which is IEEE’s joint venture with Underwriter Labs. I’m able to collaborate with and further develop our technical team through it. The purpose is to define trust for the clinical Internet of Things for medicine.
My other big commitment is Santa Clara University. I’m thrilled to see my alma mater take a leading role in building the next generation of diverse corporate directors. I’ve also been on the board of fellows for more than a decade. I’m most involved with the Silicon Valley Executive Center Leavey School of Business’ Corporate Board Readiness programs, because nothing happens without excellent leadership.
It’s a joy interacting with the incredible students, [which is why] I advise the Black and LatinX Corporate Board Readiness programs, and I’m honored to serve on the advisory board for the Women’s Corporate Board Readiness program. I also designed a lecture for and co-teach cybersecurity for board readiness there. The Black director candidates are also nothing short of extraordinary, and they’ve built an incredible community of amazingly accomplished stars. I can’t wait for the LatinX program to start.
What motivates you to mentor women in Silicon Valley?
I’m so lucky to have so many mentors, and I’m currently mentoring others. One of my mentees from the Women’s Corporate Board Readiness program at Santa Clara University, Allison Taylor, has taught me a tremendous amount and has been an incredible partner on the cybersecurity market and product marketing. You never know when your mentee is going to mentor you back!
I have objectives and key results or goals for a variety of demographic types, and women are definitely one key area. My vision is seeing a future where women and other underrepresented executives are confidently and clearly designing and going after their unique path toward success. You need clarity to have confidence. It’s only with confidence that you can compete to win.
Any recent mentoring success that gives you great satisfaction?
A top CIO asked me to spend time with a very accomplished female physician executive who had a great entrepreneurial idea. Of course, I wouldn’t say no, and it’s about expressing gratitude in that case for everything he’s done for me. I met with her last week, and, based on my experience and her request, I gave her weeks of homework and action items. The exercises and applied knowledge will accelerate her journey by months or possibly even years. In another example, I helped an entrepreneur save her company by helping her discover how to transform the way she managed her board. I find these things rewarding.
Why do you love living in Silicon Valley?
I love what a dynamic place Silicon Valley is and that I have friends from all over the world. I think we have a lot of really amazing smart people here. Take the pandemic response, for example: Our region is doing relatively well, and our county public health officer and board of supervisors seem to have always put health over politics.
It’s really important to me to live somewhere where I’m enabled to be healthy. I love our fitness options, trails and the food—not simply the healthful aspects but also the quality and variety, and I love having a lot of ethnic food options. Of course, I’m biased, even though I immigrated here as a toddler from South Korea; I grew up in the South Bay where I live.
On the professional side, I love the history of Silicon Valley pioneering new technologies and categories, which I’m very passionate about. I think we have a real opportunity to step up and help lead [as the] vanguard again. Success in a modern context for advanced technologies takes on a broader meaning; it’s more complex, more team-based and deals with data that’s sensitive. I’m excited for my vision for what a next-generation Silicon Valley organization should look like and the broad range of capabilities that it should have.
What’s on the horizon professionally and personally that gets you excited?
We have a real chance to build an industry leader—and many individual leaders and executives—through Medigram. I’m also a voracious learner. We’re fortunate to have attracted the collaboration of leaders that set the advanced technology agenda across a number of fields, including life sciences, health systems, graduate business education and medical education. I anticipate an additional effect on the fields of engineering and law. We’re super excited about the impact we can and will have as both a technology and business organization. We also see ourselves as a force for accelerating exponential innovation. We want to build winning, lasting careers and have a lot of fun while we’re at it.
Photography by: Photographed by Hillary Jeanne Photography Styled by Theresa Frentzel, A Palmer in California Jewelry by Lisa T Fine Jewelry Photographed on location at Santa Clara University