Monday Motivation from Sima Pendharkar, Founder & CEO of Valeet Healthcare

Mondays can be rough and, sometimes, we can all use some motivation. Our #MondayMotivation blog series brings you tips and life hacks from industry leaders and some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there.

We sat down with Sima Pendharkar, Founder & CEO of Valeet Healthcare, to discuss innovations in digital health, overcoming resistance to change, and marrying your inner artist and scientist.

What inspired you to start your business?
As a physician, I am unquestionably passionate about patient care and feel that open and clear communication with patients is critical for optimal care. This is an exciting era in healthcare. A transformation is occurring as patients become true consumers in their care. Whether or not patients comprehend their health information is a key factor that can make or break their health and well-being. I’ve have a breadth of experience in healthcare and constantly strive to excel in my ability to communicate with patients and deliver excellent patient outcomes. When I saw an opportunity to share my understanding and knowledge in health communications with patients as well as other healthcare providers, I was eager at the prospect. And so for the last few years I have been designing and building the Valeet Healthcare engagement platform with a team of fantastic developers, designers, patients and providers.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Healthcare is a field with lots of room for innovation, discovery and growth. Digital health has gained real momentum, and it’s inspiring to see people starting to understand how allowing for change and innovation will help healthcare. That being said, the biggest challenge still lies in resistance to change. There are certain practices in healthcare that have withstood the test of time. For example, the practice of “making rounds” and having a team communicate with patients and performing a physical examination are some examples that stand out. Also, due to the sensitivity of patient health, it is not feasible to radically “disrupt” the system as is done in other industries. Change in healthcare requires extreme diligence, thoughtfulness and caution—it has to be done slowly with a sound basis in research. Being an innovator in healthcare is rewarding but it is slow-going. You have to be patient and persistent if you want to see your vision through.

What’s been the greatest reward?
For me, the greatest reward in healthcare innovations is helping patients. Having the opportunity to truly empower patients and to have a meaningful impact on lives is one of the main reasons I decided to go into medicine. I always thought I would do that by helping one patient at a time. However, by developing the Valeet Healthcare platform, I have discovered I can potentially help a multitude of patients optimize their health while giving providers and healthcare systems tools to be more effective in their delivery of care. Another rewarding aspect is that I love how I’m able to push the limits with my creative side. I’ve always been a scientist and artist (I grew up watching Bob Ross paint and painted with him) and never quite understood how those two sides of my being would meld. For example, I would see patients and be inspired by their stories to paint or write a poem once I got home from the hospital. In that sense, my work with Valeet Healthcare is similar—I see patients and envision a better way of doing things which gets my creative brain pumping. I guess the best way to sum it up is that my love for being of service to others is what fuels my creative energy and pushes me to expand the Valeet Healthcare Engagement Platform.

What is the biggest thing you’d like to see changed in the your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
The biggest change I would like to see is for people to feel that their health is in their hands. No one knows their body better than themselves. Physicians can open doors to guide individuals on the path towards health and healing. But ultimately, each person is the only one who is in his or her head and body each day, so he or she knows best. Giving people the right tools to be successful makes a world of difference, and I’ve witnessed that so many times. When you work to keep patients well informed and arm them with the knowledge they need, they can take that and do wonders with it.

With the Valeet Healthcare Engagement Platform, we are doing just that—arming patients with the knowledge they need. We are packaging personalized health information, including conditions, treatment plans and medications, in a way that enables patients to understand quite easily. We want a patient to have all of their critical information right their at their fingertips. And to be able to navigate that information very easily.

Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough?
I’m always able to find motivation and inspiration from the collective human experience. And in that sense, being in New York is perfect. Each day, I see people from all walks of life hustling and bustling to make it through the day. Last week, I watched a musician, dancers, a poet, and a drummer all make their personal debuts in their art on the 2 train—and they each did it with so much gusto. I’m inspired by the patients who I work with each day, from the patients with cancer to diabetes to addiction problems who keep pushing through the tears, not knowing what tomorrow will bring but having faith regardless. I’m inspired by my colleagues, , nurses and other health professionals with whom I have the privilege to work alongside each day, who give 500% to make sure their patients are doing OK. And last, but not least, I’m always inspired by my mother who for me, defines what it means to be an artist. My mother is a prolific potter and everyday, she makes at least 5 new things whether it’s on the kiln or hand building. Our garage in NC is covered in pottery from floor to ceiling, a collection of her works over the years.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another entrepreneur just starting out?
I’d say that it’s good to embrace uncertainty! There are so many ways to approach any particular problem in life. While it’s great to have your network, mentors and others who you can turn to, just because someone did something a certain way and succeeded, that may not be the path for you. So embrace the uniqueness of your path and have faith that it’s OK to do things in your own way. And always be sure to nurture your mind and body along the way and surround yourself with people who love you for who you are!

What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week?
I like starting off the week by spending time outside whether it’s going for a jog, a bike ride or just relaxing with my dog. Being in nature helps me re-center and feel at ease. I usually have my journal on hand so that after I’ve had some time to relax, I can take the time to focus on any objective tasks or matters.

For more #MondayMotivation, check out our interview with Jessica Pritchett, Founder & CEO of LOVR. Jessica talks about taking the leap from the corporate world to full-time entrepreneurship, scaling your startup, and the growing world of beauty tech.