Holla to the Ladies: Behind Every Great Healthcare Technology is a Woman

By , Vice President of Marketing and Business Development
Health IT, Population Health & Wellness
health IT

Holla to the Ladies: Behind Every Great Healthcare Technology is a Woman

The organizers of National Health IT Week have called for greater recognition of the industry’s women leaders. Here’s my shortlist of women I think deserve attention.

By Kristin Russel, Vice President of Marketing and Product Strategy, Transcend Insights

While the annual affair known as National Health IT Week is meant to highlight the role that technology plays in healthcare, this year the organizers have added something new: a call for participants to acknowledge the women among them and their ongoing contributions to the industry’s success.

In announcing its various goals for the week, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) cited a survey it conducted in 2015. Among its findings: 83 percent of women in the industry feel “there is insufficient recognition of women executives in health IT”…  To which I must reply: “Amen!”

We need more Women Leaders in Health IT

Research today highlights that the number of female leaders in the industry overall is far less than one might expect: While women account for nearly 80 percent of the healthcare workforce, they hold only 34 percent of C-suite positions at top hospitals. Speaking from my own personal experience, while the upside of never having to wait in line for the women’s room has its benefits, the need for more women leaders in Health IT is clear. Evidence indicates that female leaders typically have more compassion and empathy and an open, inclusive style that is critical to drive new ways of thinking in an industry where innovation drives change.

National Health IT Week is not defined by a single conference or HIMSS showcase; it’s up to individuals, companies and healthcare organizations nationwide to take up the week’s cause on their own, and in whatever ways they believe will be most effective. Toward that end, here’s my shortlist of those women in the industry I find to be most inspiring:

My Shortlist of Women Leaders

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Speaking at the HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition earlier this year, Burwell—who has also served as president of the Walmart Foundation and of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—described health IT as “crucial” to the nation’s efforts to transform healthcare delivery… let’s just say my list would not be complete without her.

Jody Bilney, CCO of Humana: Bilney is strong, driven and a reliable source of phenomenal advice. She also has an extremely successful track record when it comes to her work in brand and business innovation.

Dr. Sylvia Plevritis, PhD, professor in the Department of Radiology, Stanford School of Medicine: Plevritis is a pioneer in data-driven cancer research, and smart, funny and creative to boot.

Leslie Trigg, CEO of Outset Medical: As you might expect of the woman who secured $91 million in private financing for Outset’s dialysis technology, Trigg has boundless energy and passion. But even better? She’s a dynamo executive leader.

Dr. Barbara Happ, RN, PhD, professor of healthcare informatics: A recognized leader in the field in health administration and informatics, Barbara has taught many of the women leading the way in healthcare informatics today.  Not to mention, she’s the best mother-in-law a girl can find!

National Health IT Week may come and go, but these women leaders, friends, family, colleagues and sources of inspiration will be shaping healthcare delivery for years to come while inspiring the lot of us to reach further;  improve healthcare and drive creative, meaningful, game-changing technology!

Who’s on your list of top women in health IT?