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Gender and Role Equality in Health Tech: An Accomplishment for the Future of Healthcare

woman working in health tech

Given that May is Mother’s Day month, I wanted to take a minute to highlight how well women are doing in the health IT field. Part of that is how supportive men have become at work and home, and how, in tech, gender roles and identities aren’t the definition of a worker. That’s refreshing, and moving in the right direction.

I remember when it was rare to be a woman in I.T. When I first got into coding, I was an anomaly amongst my peers. I.T. was for the guys. Bit by bit (if you'll pardon the pun), over the last couple of decades, women have not only done the work but have completely integrated into the culture. Now, women are increasingly important in the healthcare technology industry. They lead companies, develop new products and services, and advocate for better patient care. People of all genders are well-suited for careers in healthcare technology, but women are often drawn to the field because, historically, they have a tendency to use nurturing to make a difference in the lives of others. They are also known to be good at multitasking, problem-solving, and communicating.

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in response to the harmful ban on women being aid workers in Afghanistan, "Afghan women are the lifeblood of our humanitarian response. They are highly skilled and uniquely placed to reach the most vulnerable Afghans—including children and women, the sick and elderly, as well as those living with disabilities. They have access to populations that their male colleagues cannot reach. They are nutrition experts, community health and social workers, teachers, vaccinators, nurses, doctors and much more."

Right now, in the Healthcare I.T. industry, women are making significant contributions to the growth and prevalence of global health improvement through technology. They are developing new products and services that are redefining and remodeling patient care. For example, women are developing mobile apps to help patients track their health data, manage their medications, and connect with their doctors. They are also developing virtual reality (V.R.) and augmented reality (A.R.) technologies that train doctors and nurses, provide patients with educational materials, and help people with disabilities access healthcare.

In addition to developing new products and services, women are also leading companies in the healthcare technology industry. For example, Julieann Esper Rainville is the President of PointClickCare, a leading healthcare software provider. Dr. Geeta Nayyar is the General Manager of Healthcare and Life Sciences at Salesforce. And Andrea Kowalski is the CEO of Vida Health, a company that provides virtual care to patients with chronic diseases.

Along with contributing to the industry, women advocate for better global patient care. They view it as a priority. For example, Dr. Leana Wen is the former Commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department. She strongly advocates for policies that improve access to healthcare, especially for underserved populations. And Dr. Regina Benjamin is the former U.S. Surgeon General. She is a vocal advocate for prevention and wellness programs.

Audrey McKeown, the CEO of AcquisBI and head of AcquisHEALTH, says, "Access to healthcare for all needs to be a priority. For example: exercise therapeutics and healthy workspaces should be a human lifestyle. Not a choice for a privileged few." Her health I.T. company, AcquisHEALTH, is actively helping to provide data access platforms that will connect existing medical systems framework for patients and providers to communicate effectively to provide continuity of care, increase patient engagement, and reduce the load of interoperability problems that take clinical time away from providers and practitioners.

Audrey's goal is to commit to a longer-term strategy to develop for the future and bridge the healthcare technology transition gap, focus on the company mission of supporting world health with good tech that isn't restricted or driven by quarterly bottom-line reports while providing an equitable and healthy workplace environment.

She also talks about being a woman of Generation X and how GenX smashed the mold of our parents' old work and home roles. She's fostered a whole generation of nieces who have come to her for help and advice navigating workplace situations like upward mobility and salary negotiation. In exchange, she gets great feedback and advice on modernizing culture from them to continue to adapt. She also focuses on a culture of equality and merit-based incentives at AcquisHEALTH that treat everyone equally.

Audrey feels that having empathy through her experiences as a woman in business has been a significant advantage in running a company. She uses what she's learned to change old ways into new opportunities in an emerging field. She also notes that men in the workplace have changed with the times and are much more comfortable with egalitarian lifestyles. "They've worked in tandem with women to foster their creativity and growth in the workplace and advocated for men's parental and family leave accommodations for the betterment of everyone.”

People of all genders and identities are getting more recognition for their roles in child care and work/life balance, and I can't help thinking that this is the right step forward for finding the time and creativity to work together on much better things for our human future together.


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