Need to Know: 5 Women in Health IT

You want irony? Try this: the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that we women are the ones who make the health care choices for the kids in 8 out of 10 families. Yet women are far and away the minority gender in the world of health IT leaders. Health IT is one of the most important segments of health care, during a time of great change. If women are the ones who’ll be where the rubber hits the road when it comes to the future of health, why aren’t more of us, more involved, in determining what that future of health looks like?

While this is by no means the definitive list, I’ve done some research on the women who ARE making their mark in HIT. I list five to know below. They’ve been included both for their individual accomplishments and for the attention I think that’s due in the areas of health IT where they’re active.

Regina Holliday - The Patient Advocate

Regina uses art to lobby for attention to be paid to patients; she became a patient advocate after witnessing her late husband’s struggle to receive appropriate care for kidney cancer. She paints at big-time medical conventions, reminding attendees that Meaningful Use (MU) requirements of new electronic medical records programs--oft discussed today in the context of government payouts--were created with the intent to improve patient care and save lives. And she reminds us that electronic health records (EHRs) should be clear and transparent. Why does an artist get top billing in a piece on information technology? Because her point--the that the goal of the technology is to make it easier for people to be and stay well--is, well, pretty important.

Judith Faulkner - The Veteran

More than three decades ago Judith Faulkner started a small company, Epic, that has today grown into the provider of the EHR software for most of the largest hospitals in the US. Epic is also the system used by Kaiser Permanente, the biggest care provider in the country that’s not an arm of the government. And it’s in the running to be the solution used by the Veteran’s Administration (VA). Given that Faulkner is staunchly against an effort to have all EHRs move towards becoming interoperable with one another, this last fact has some folks mighty alarmed. Faulkner is still involved in any major company decision and drives the company’s unique corporate culture, and she’s got a seat on President Obama’s Health IT Policy Committee that’ll be making recommendations on “development and adoption of a nationwide health information infrastructure, including standards for the exchange of patient medical information.”

Susannah Fox - The Researcher