The first-ever Women in MedTech event launched last week in Waltham, MA as 125 women gathered for a MassMEDIC-sponsored forum titled “Disruptive Technologies in Medicine.” Its founders frame their goal: “To unite New England medical device executive women by providing an inspirational and educational leadership forum.” The message: “You will hear us now.”
Randel Richner, President of Richner Consultants, opened the forum. “Today is a dream of mine, to have all of you in this room,” she said. Two powerful influences have guided her life: her dad, who said, “You will always work,” and Robin Morgan’s 1969 book, Sisterhood is Powerful. Richner started her career as a dialysis nurse on a bus, but has taken her work many places since. She has been called incendiary – inflammable and provocative – and effective, and she believes deeply in an Alibaba quote: “To be more successful, bring in more women.”
Maria Shepherd, President and Founder of Data Decision Group, served as Moderator of the forum. Her career spans Boston Scientific, Oridion, and Philips, where she served as Director of Marketing. She introduced Robin Strongin, President and CEO of Amplify Public Affairs, and Founder of Disruptive Women in Health Care.
Disruptive Women in Health Care is a platform for provocative ideas and solutions in the health sphere. Strongin began by talking about the different experiences of purchasing her daughter’s first iPhone and going to the hospital. In one, you are courted and served as a valuable customer; in the other, you are treated like cattle going through a mechanized chute.
“The disruptors are onto something,” Strongin said. “There are new competitors, new language, tremendous chaos and pressure, new opportunities. It is not your mother’s healthcare market.”
During her talk, Strongin gave classic examples of the gaps between medical orthodoxy and health innovation. She also spoke about communication, as she believes it is imperative to bring different stakeholders together to push for change.
Women are often in the lead in identifying niches and creating disruptive technologies. Empowerment starts at home. But one question came up over and over again during the forum: How do we get more women involved to shake things up?
Women in MedTech believe that women can do more together than apart, harnessing power for impact. At the end of the meeting, the organizers asked for suggestions of ways to enhance personal, professional, and policy impact. The audience built quite an agenda to launch this new force.
An economist by training, Laura Henze Russell applies the multiple lenses of economics, ethics, efficacy and common sense to shine a light on real world problems, from how the cost of living varies throughout the lifespan by health status, to how we can accelerate the promise of precision medicine. She has an M.A. in Economics from the University of California and a B.A. from Hampshire College. She is also the principal of Precision Research, Writing & Communications and of Good Works Consulting, with experience in the public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.
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