We are excited to announce an official partnership between Junto Health and HealthTech Women. In today's current state of healthcare reform and policy changes it is of vital importance that women have a voice in the healthcare industry. The widely circulated images from a few weeks ago of an all-male room discussing women's health issues in the American Health Care Act is just one demonstration of why women need a seat at the table.
At Junto, we are committed to helping use our platform to spread awareness of the incredible female leaders in healthcare who are poised to make a change. Over the next many months we will be working with HealthTech Women to share the stories of these inspirational leaders. Hopefully, this will provide both valuable insight into the work already being done by these businesswomen and also demonstrate the challenges and barriers that we as a society must work on eradicating to create an equal playing field.
HealthTech Women was originally founded in 2012 in San Francisco by Carla Brenner. Brenner had "recognized the gender imbalance in executives and thought leadership in the healthcare industry" and sought to develop a community to counteract this and produce change. With likeminded leaders and innovators she developed a global network for women working in the healthcare industry. Today, there are 10 hubs around the world including chapters in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston.
To kick off our partnership we wanted to share Brenner's story about the founding of HealthTech Women and her experiences in the organization.
We look forward to introducing her and many other members and contributors of HealthTech Women to our Junto Community. If you are interested in joining HealthTech Women and becoming involved you are able to sign-up here.
Junto Health (JH): What was the inspiration behind creating HealthTech Women?
Carla Brenner (CB): I was working the in the Pharmaceutical Industry in Corporate Devlopment, going to conferences galore! As you might expect,every conference I went to was attended by an overwhelming majority of men . I had a lightbulb moment when I went to the JP Morgan Healthcare conference in 2008. It was all men in black suits. Not only was I the odd one out, but each micro industry was segregated in discussion without a collaborative effort to discuss how a variety of innovation in technology was facilitating comprehensive advancements.
HealthTech Women came about from a need to bring all these women together who are in healthcare silos trying to impact or make smarter and more informed decision about their health.
We address women that are not only focused on the health space, but those that are creating products or solutions that address the growing women’s health market.
JH: How has the organization grown since the initial launch? How many members do you now have?
CB: When we launched at the end of 2012, it was a small group of us getting together through Happy Hours and monthly speaking events in San Francisco. Since then we have grown to over 20,000 members and host events around the world. From small meet up events, to evening conferences, and intimate dinner series, our programming allows women to engage with our community in a variety of different environments.
JH: Who are some past speakers and events that you have had that have been particularly inspiring?
CB: This is a hard one because we have had so many exceptional female speakers across diagnostics, personalized medicine, 3d printing, medical devices etc. However, our best attended event was our most recent JP Morgan Healthcare event in January on the topic of AI In Healthcare with over 200 women. It was completely sold out, we even had to create an overflow room to accommodate walk-ins! We found that not only was this topic extremely interesting to our audience, but the organization continues to grow. Our speakers touched on AI for drug discovery (NuMedii, CEO, Gini Deshpande), AI in virtual nurse technology within clinics (Ivana Schnur, MD/PhD, Co-founder, CMO at Sense.ly), and AI using big data for real time clinical insights and risk management (Leeda Rashid, MD, MPH, FAAFP Director of Clinical Quality, Lumiata).
For me personally, the talk that I found most exciting and touching was our 3D Printing in Healthcare event in 2013. We had the event at 3D Systems and got a tour of the lab and saw the process from start to finish in building a real time Cast. Also, Ping Fu, the creator of the technology that makes Invisalign, discussed her early years living during the Cultural Revolution and how she landed on 3D printing, her discovery that enabled customized manufacturing , and challenges she faced along the way to building one the most exciting consumer 3d printing technologies!
JH: How has being a part of HealthTech Women personally impacted you?
CB: Not only have I meet the most incredible women who are sharing their stories and passions, but the way these women interact and discuss the future of health and technology is really impactful. It’s really been amazing to see thousands of women globally come together, driven by a common mission to learn about what’s happening in this space and to share how they are impacting this community.
I believe that this is truly just the beginning of a movement; we are about to see the impact of smart, ambitious ladies reach an even greater level in this space.
JH: What has it been like as a female leader in a male dominated healthcare market?
CB: Although the majority of healthcare workers are female, only 36% of the executive leadership in hospitals are women. The lack of female representation driving key business decisions is definitely apparent when I work with many of these hospitals.
As a leader in this space, it is important for me to bring together all women who are part of the healthcare ecosystem (physicians, innovators, engineers, business professionals, designers, etc), and drive a discussion of ways to drive change together. By giving our community proper knowledge about innovation in this space, we become smarter, more informed, and can make an even greater impact.
JH: What are some things that you think should be done to help “fix” the healthcare system for women?
CB: Right now there is a ton of uncertainty in the healthcare space. As a result many health systems are extremely cautious about investing in and embracing new technologies, unless they directly tie to increased revenues.
I think what is actually more important than trying to fix an uncertain health system, is to focus on the types of technologies that can empower decision makers to take control of their own health or their families health. Also, it is important to be aware and know how various technologies such as AI, VR , and drug discovery can make lives easier. Many of these technologies are finding ways to work outside of a system to focus on underserved needs. These are areas that I would certainly keep an eye out for or focus attention on.
80% of healthcare decisions are made by women in the family, yet women are noticeably absent from healthcare leadership roles and healthcare IT. This partnership is only a small step to helping change this statistic, but we hope to make a large impact.
To learn more about HealthTech Women follow them on Twitter (@Healthtechwomen) and stay tuned on our blog for forthcoming articles and events.