HARRY GREENSPUN, M.D.
My name is Harry Greenspun, M.D. I am currently the Chief Medical Officer of Dell Services. I have served in this role since 2008, first as CMO of Perot Systems, then continuing at Dell after we were acquired.
My job is a mixture of thought leadership and strategy, working with a broad range of audiences related to healthcare and technology, and participating in industry groups and advisory boards. I bridge the gap between the technical and clinical worlds, highlighting critical issues in healthcare.
I started my career as a cardiac anesthesiologist at Hopkins doing research in minimally invasive heart surgery. We tracked the outcomes of those patients using traditional paper forms. At the time, my brother was working at M.I.T. on database-backed websites, so I got his grad students to build an online registry for me. With its successful launch, I got the notion that this would be a good idea for a business, and began my journey into the business world. I worked in a number of roles over the years, winding up at Northrop Grumman as their CMO, focusing on military health, HIE, and public health. I needed to get involved in public policy, and helped by a good friend who worked for a competitor, I became active in HIMSS’ Government Relations Roundtable. This led to a number of higher profile opportunities as healthcare was emerging as a critical issue in the 2008 presidential campaign. Suddenly I was on a national stage as a known figure in health policy, even speaking at press conferences with congressmen about the benefits of health IT. Consequently, my resume included experience across providers, hospitals, payers, agencies, and now legislators.
A DAY IN MY LIFE:
Transitioning from practicing physician to “thought leader” has pulled me from the operating room and put me on airplanes (where I’m still sometimes called to duty). With global responsibilities and a full calendar of speeches, board meetings, customer briefings, I have been virtually everywhere. While a bit extreme, in two weeks in October I was in London, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Morocco, giving keynote presentations, participating on panels, leading workgroups, and addressing customers and board members. I have met some of the most extraordinary people in healthcare and related industries all around the world in some very exotic (and mundane) locations. I spend a lot of time writing whitepapers, articles, and editorials and was fortunate to work with Jim Champy on a book called Reengineering Health Care, so I also get to do book presentations and signings.
Travel can be tough, and many people just suffer from it. However, I have managed to enjoy it by following a few rules on the road: never eat at the hotel, see whatever landmark a city is known for, and try to meet up with someone local for a meal or quick visit. I keep a list of every major city and people I know who live there. Before traveling, I’ll reach out to see who I can reconnect with. It makes travel fun and helps strengthen your network.
I also try to keep friends and family connected with me, so I carry a camera with me everywhere, posting interesting shots from my travels on Facebook.
People seem to value me for the breadth of my experience. There are few doctors (or anyone, for that matter) who have worked across so many aspects of healthcare. I like to say that I can parachute into almost any meeting, whether it is with a hospital, pharmaceutical company, payer, regulator, or foreign government, and have an intelligent conversation, at least for an hour or so. There are plenty of experts in each of those fields, but what generates great dialogue is the intersection of all these areas. Healthcare is a tremendously complex ecosystem. The more pieces you understand, the better you can help others appreciate how they will be impacted or can work together.
Networking has been critical to my success, because in my role, I either need to know something or know somebody who does. I try to connect with anyone who reaches out to me, or direct them to the right person, and try to identify how I can be helpful.
People often tell me that I don’t come across as a “regular” doctor, usually a subtle way of saying I don’t seem arrogant or have an over-inflated sense of my own worth. Clinicians who transition into business often don’t understand that they need to connect their experience with the mission and needs of their new organization. Unless your activities support those you work with, you’ll just be a sideshow attraction and ultimately not valued. A friend put it beautifully, “You should strive for eminence with purpose.”