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Before launching a career that marries technology and healthcare, Patty Riskind ’97 received advice that helped instill in her a lifelong spirit of entrepreneurship.
“My father always said, ‘The worst thing they can do is fire you. And if they do, it's not so bad, you'll go find the next thing,’” she recalls. “I think being an entrepreneur comes with the tolerance for risk — you have to put yourself out there.”
Putting herself out there has seemingly come naturally to Riskind over the years, but just as important is her willingness to remain committed to carrying out her ideas. Now the head of global healthcare for the software company Qualtrics, Riskind’s first major endeavor actually took shape in the classroom at Kellogg.
In Professor Barry Merkin’s entrepreneurship class, she drafted a plan for a consumer report website for women seeking an OB-GYN. The plan stuck with her long after the class ended.
“I had recently had a baby, so it was top of mind and I realized how hard it was to select a physician,” Riskind explains. “Most of the time it's word of mouth — you have a mom or friends who recommend a good doctor, but that’s usually it.”
Armed with what she explored in Merkin’s course, she graduated from Kellogg and continued to tinker with potential solutions for problems in women’s healthcare, eventually launching PatientImpact, an electronic survey company. At the time, health surveys only existed in paper format and Riskind knew the market was ready for an electronic survey that could capture feedback in real time from patients following their medical visits.
Her hunch was right. PatientImpact grew rapidly, stretching from 20 customers in 2004 to 80 in 2005 and 2,000 in 2006. Eventually she sold PatientImpact to her industry competitor Press Ganey Associates, where she eventually became chief experience office. She stayed with the company through a public offering in 2015 and a return to private ownership in 2016.
“It was a great run, but after all the transactions I was ready for a break,” says Riskind, who very briefly “retired” before seeking a new opportunity to make a difference in healthcare. When Qualtrics, an online experience management platform, came knocking, she was delighted to have a chance to further improve healthcare experience through cutting-edge technology.
“I'm here to disrupt,” Riskind says. “I loved Press Ganey and my time there, but it's time for a new approach. There are different tech companies out there making transactions easier for consumers and healthcare needs to do the same.”
As she continues to disrupt the healthcare industry by pushing its technology forward, Riskind says she’s grateful to Kellogg for teaching her how to channel her enthusiasm.
“What comes with age sometimes is the wisdom and experience to know that if I have the resources, the tools and the momentum behind me, it really is possible to make a difference in the world,” she says.