Change Management

Healthcare Industry Innovators Embracing Healthy Disruption

Man and woman in discussion during a meeting

The healthcare industry is experiencing disruption in multiple forms.

Disruption, as defined by Merriam Webster, is a break or interruption in the normal course or continuation of an activity or process. In an article, Forbes explored disruption as an industry buzzword, contrasting it with another commonly confused buzzword: innovation. Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen said that “a disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile,” and described it as destructive and creative.

What do these definitions have in common? They’re both related to the experience of unexpected or uninvited change facing our lives and challenging our version of reality. Embracing the destructive element of disruption means breaking the silence by asking questions, even when it seems a certain solution or approach already works. Sometimes when something is the way it’s always been, it’s the exact reason change needs to occur in the first place.

The following digital health trailblazers are working with HIMSS’s Women in Health IT Community to innovate for a better future in the healthcare industry and beyond. Each individual embarked on their own unique journey into the healthcare industry. Here are some common threads their stories share.

Their Passion is Personal

If you ask a group of healthcare professionals why they pursued a career in the healthcare industry, you will likely find a common connecting theme: passion for serving others. In many cases, that passion evolves from personal experiences shaping the trajectory of their life and their career.

When we asked our Women in Health IT Community what the source of their career inspiration was, many shared their own stories about how family or loved ones faced significant health challenges. These experiences motivated them to enter healthcare and address those challenges in honor of their loved ones.

Denise Garcia Egan, director of clinical business intelligence at the Open Door Family Medical Centers, sees her role in the healthcare industry as “part of a bigger mission to keep people healthy.” Egan has been on this mission since childhood.

Growing up, Egan’s mother struggled with hearing loss, so Egan became an advocate for her. “At a young age, I became not only her eyes and ears, but her healthcare navigator. I saw how she struggled to obtain hearing aids and the financial burden from the frequent trips to doctors and specialists.” This drew Egan to public health and community health education, areas where she felt determined to make a change based on her own experiences.

Egan entered the healthcare industry with a focus on chronic disease and helping patients navigate the cancer screening process. In 2018, Egan leveraged this expertise in her contributions to two case studies about cancer screening and asthma care. As a result of Egan’s leadership, Open Door Family Medical Centers earned the HIMSS Davies Community Health Award for these use case submissions – an accomplishment she considers to be a milestone in her career.

Netta Levran, director of product innovation at Anthem, Inc., was also motivated by personal experiences within her family to pursue a career in the healthcare industry. As a child, Levran observed her father struggle with type two diabetes and was fearful she might have a similar chronic condition in the future. Her mother, a geneticist, reassured her that by the time she was her dad’s age, there would already be a cure. “Although diabetes hasn’t been cured yet, the treatment of diabetes is continuously changing,” said Levran.

“Technology is bringing us closer to a world in which our engagement with our health looks completely different. What we know about our health, how we manage our health, where treatment happens and how we pay for our healthcare will be completely revolutionized by technology during our lifetime.”

Levran knew she had to be part of that revolution, so she’s now dedicated her career to a rising startup focused on digital therapeutics for health and wellness.

They Keep Patients at the Center

Whether you’re delivering care, receiving care, or developing the tools enabling that care, keeping patients at the center is a challenge that continues to persist in the healthcare industry. Denise Hines, chief Americas officer at HIMSS, feels this is because the healthcare industry is stuck in tradition.

In a HIMSS TV interview, she shared insights on how this may be hindering progress in the healthcare industry. “We’ve been limited to thinking that healthcare is limited to hospitals, when now what we’re taking a look at the total health, or total community of a patient,” she explained.

“We are under an immense amount of pressure as an industry to make sure that we meet patient needs. Our patients expect faster, better access to care and we have to respond – but we also have to be responsible, protect privacy, work with policymakers and hold technology innovators accountable for what they are developing to make sure that it does improve healthcare.”

Hines speaks with HIMSS TV about the challenges, opportunities and what's next in patient empathy and experience.

They Embrace (and Prepare for) Change in the Healthcare Industry

Healthy disruption leads to impactful innovation, and that can only be driven by those who acknowledge the need for change, and embrace the power of it.

Carium Chief Transformation Officer and HIMSS Most Influential Women in Health IT Award recipient Lygeia Ricciardi speaks about applying behavioral change science and aligning it with the way humans are wired to move us toward better health.

Whether it’s building better dashboards, creating more meaningful patient experiences or uplifting underrepresented individuals in healthcare, there is still so much work left to be done in innovating for improvement in the healthcare industry. But thanks to the courage of these industry trailblazers, a better future for health is near.

The HIMSS Women in Health IT Community is a dynamic group of like-minded individuals collaborating to empower the development of a more robust and diverse workforce. These HIMSS members are messengers of both challenges and opportunities relevant to underrepresented individuals in the workforce – including, but not limited to women. The community leads discussions focused on mentoring, research, career advancement, networking and professional development in healthcare information and technology.

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Originally published 6 June 2019; updated 17 July 2020