The Health Tech Lessons From the Resignation of Stanford University’s President

Sherri Douville
5 min readJul 21, 2023

I feel truly bad for the outgoing Stanford University President for what looks to me as extraordinary pressure to “move fast and break things.” Every CEO feels this and has to decide if short term oriented pressures or their and their firm’s reputations long term will guide their decisions. The former compound and become difficult if not impossible to course correct. I don’t just totally empathize for the reasons spelled out below; I write this because of all the ignorant ridiculous takes floating around the region. Of course the work had an impact for ill or good.

“There have been potentially thousands of follow on research papers that built off of and cited his work and related clinical products impacted across many neurological product categories.”

— William Harding, Ph.D. Bioengineer, Systems Engineer, Distinguished Technical Fellow, & IEEE Standard Vice Co-Chair.

This IS an existential crisis in science and by default healthcare technology. We can’t look away. We have to decide to recognize how amazingly hard the work really is and get super specific about when this super hard work is needed, and in what context.

To make a hard situation worse, Americans’ confidence in higher education has sunk to a new low, according to a just-released Gallup poll which has major implications for science and medicine.

Douville, Medigram 2023

It demonstrates to me again, the soul crushing misalignment between tech and medicine and one I’ve only been able to navigate as CEO of Medigram, the Mobile Medicine company by standing on the shoulders of many giants with deep meaningful and real tech expertise (through IEEE and more), physician leaders at every level, and CXO’s in healthcare. Though focusing just on the short term and deciding to deprioritize integrity can deliver the “cash as the only thing that matters” results that “team OceanGate” demands.

To clarify, I don’t see (and never did) see the misconduct allegations against him as personal fraud; I see it as a potential lapse of oversight, teamwork, and management focused priority to deliver and assure publication integrity. I am speaking from experience over 4 books which are 49 chapters (= publications published) and + 11 technical papers pending as either lead author, coauthor, editor, and now series editor. This is for the #3 academic publisher in the world, Taylor & Francis — a stature that transcends the U.S. academic and brand paradigm. I learned through our work together with the teams on these publications about the difficulty of assuring publication integrity. The default with data and tech talent most of the time is to not know how to do the regulated work or collaborate with quality management. This isn’t to denigrate the fields; this is an acknowledgment of gaps in culture and education expectations. As a side note, I am not an M.D. or Ph.D. which you most often see at the series editor level. What I am is someone who for over a decade leveraged relatively deep knowledge of evidence based medicine and publications to win several awards at my job with the constant goal of doing it ethically in a science and medicine context at Johnson & Johnson in over a dozen disease states. — to the credit of my company at the time J&J for all the millions they invest in intensive training of those funneled into the management development program.

If my name is on for lead author of a technical textbook, chapter, or paper, then I am signing up to train tech talent which is frankly incredibly difficult but necessary for achieving credible technical integrity and we’ve done successfully dozens of times. I am grateful to the leadership team for the book series for all the heavy lifting they’ve done on logistics and the difficult work of onboarding technical talent to elite academic level publising. I could never have done it alone. The work is back breaking which is why it’s easier not to do; but necessary to have credibility and trust, in particular with prominent physician leaders: chairs of departments, Deans, board members internationally to build bridges that don’t and have never existed and wouldn’t ever exist unless a handful of us knocked ourselves out to build those bridges.

Whenever you have new coauthors, you have to plan for the non compliant inability to identify or deliver high quality regulated work. That’s why now that we have a pool of highly experienced tech talent trained in the work; I’m not training any new ones except on a selective basis of strategic necessity.

The work is too hard.

Beyond publication integrity; there is also a necessity for technical integrity across the full technology stack, privacy, cybersecurity, process, and people. The foundation and soil to make this all work is culture and talent optimization.

We must start by defining success for highly specific contexts such as clinical program development. Who gets to decide where we go from here and whether or not integrity, safety, and quality remain paramount to medical science and healthcare technology? Is it time to transcend “move fast with low quality and break things?” Who will lead?

By Sherri Douville, CEO at Medigram, the Mobile Medicine company. Recognized in 8 categories of top CEOs by Board Room Media (Across SMS, mHealth, iOS, IT, Database, Big Data, Android, Healthcare). Top ranked medical market executive worldwide. Best selling editor/author, Mobile Medicine: Overcoming People, Culture, and Governance & Advanced Health Technology: Managing Risk While Tackling Barriers to Rapid Acceleration, Taylor & Francis; Series Editor for Trustworthy Technology & Innovation + Trustworthy Technology & Innovation in Healthcare. (contracted to advise top academic and professional education publisher Routledge, Taylor & Francis).

Sherri is the co-chair of the IEEE/UL JV for the technical trust standard SG project for Clinical IoT in medicine, P2933. She is passionate about redefining technology, software and data for medicine and advanced health technologies in a way that’s worth the trust of clinicians, our family, and friends. Ms. Douville leverages her books to inform her work on the CHIME CDH security specialization certification board. She also teaches, advises, and co-founded the Cybersecurity (+AI) curriculum for the Black Corporate Board Readiness and Women’s Corporate Board Readiness programs at Santa Clara University.