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Women of Impact in Health Care

by Jeanne Zucker, President of Healthcare Businesswomen's Association, VP of Enterprise Client Development

As President of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), and a woman who is constantly meeting with health care providers as part of my role at athenahealth, I know all too well how outnumbered women are in leadership positions within the industry. So it was especially important to me that HBA’s Woman of the Year, an annual event to celebrate the achievements of remarkable leaders in healthcare from across the industry, both marked a quarter-century of recognizing distinguished women and also honored three women of impact in health care:

  • Shideh Sedgh Bina, founding partner of Insigniam and editor in chief of Insigniam Quarterly
  • Annalisa Jenkins, MBBS, MRCP, previously executive vice president and head of global research and development for Merck Serono
  • Patricia A. Maryland, DrPH, president of healthcare operations and chief operating officer of Ascension Health

All three women have made substantive contributions to health care and serve as role models illustrating the significant influence women leaders can have in the industry. In front of more than 2,500 attendees at the Woman of the Year event, each took some time to discuss their own efforts and experiences in an industry that thirsts for disruptive thought and action.

In addressing the Woman of the Year audience, Annalisa Jenkins described the birth of biopharma, a combination of the best-of-breed attributes from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, and discussed the innovation and creative thought processes associated with the emergence of this relatively new health care sector. Patricia A. Maryland spoke about the collaborative leadership required to recognize the need for change—and then act upon it—and detailed how her team drove important business outcomes for Ascension Health in key markets such as Detroit. Finally, Shideh Sedgh Bina spoke about the personal commitment leaders need to make to effectively drive progress in our industry.

But in addition to their specific business achievements and challenges, all three women had a common thread running through their address: Women bring important qualities to organizational leadership, particularly in health care. Women bring collaboration, empathy, persuasiveness, and perseverance, extremely important in any business but especially valuable in health care given the dynamic changes and unprecedented advances in health care reform, information technology, and general science.

We need the best minds and finest talent to advance the health care industry and deliver the essential care people need. The advancement of women worldwide through programs designed to sponsor them, and help them prepare for and assume leadership roles, is now more critical than ever. At athenahealth, we’ve started the Women’s Leadership Forum. The Forum builds off of our founding principles to empower women and actively foster a corporate culture that encourages and promotes personal and professional development. Also, in partnership with HBA, we will be co-hosting Chapter events, starting with our first event to be held in our Watertown, MA headquarters on August 7th titled, “Healthcare Disruption.”

These programs and events serve as an important reminder and inspiring catalyst for women to step forward and develop their careers to help lead our industry effectively and successfully in the years to come.

Join healthcare businesswomen August 7th at athenahealth in Watertown, MA to hear how senior executives are disrupting healthcare IT and how mobile applications are changing the future of the healthcare landscape — system-wide.

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