HIMSS builds new community for women in health IT

The forum brought together women in various management, technology and clinical roles to discuss how best to create community, resources and content to address the interests of women.
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The HIMSS16 Women in Health IT Roundtable was held Monday at the Sands Convention Center.

LAS VEGAS – HIMSS is recognizing a need for community initiatives among women in healthcare IT with several activities. The activities were a central topic at the HIMSS16 Women in Health IT Roundtable which was held Monday at the Sands Convention Center.

The forum brought together women in various management, technology and clinical roles to discuss how best to create community, resources and content to address the interests of women.

One of the initiatives is an Annual Most Influential Women in Health IT Award, a first-of-its-kind program that recognizes influential women at all stages of their health IT career. The awards ceremony will kick off in the fall of 2016. Unlike other award programs,  it will feature a judging panel of top female leaders who will define the nomination criteria across several categories, and select awardees.

Other initiatives will address the gender gap in health IT and the need for more recognition and resources for women across the sector.

"HIMSS is committed to empowering and advancing high-performing professionals in our mission to improve health through the best use of IT, said Carla Smith, executive vice president of HIMSS. “We’ve made it a priority to provide community, resources and recognition to women who have made – and continue to make – significant contributions to the field.”

At Monday’s roundtable, Miriam Paramore, a former HIMSS Board Chair, recalled an experience with a similar initiative at a health IT company where she worked.

When she shared her plans, a male executive asked her what she thought she was doing. She responded, “I’m getting women together.” His answer: “There’s no policy for that.” She asked “what’s your objection here?” To which he responded “what if other groups wanted to get together?”

HIMSS Board Chair Dana Alexander suggested that to grow, women have “to function at the spread of their wings.” Having an encouraging mentor along the way can be an invaluable aid.

After surveying over 20,000 women in 2015 about the current state of women’s professional needs in health IT, HIMSS identified a need for expanded recognition of women across the sector. Some 83 percent of respondents said there remains insufficient recognition of women executives in health IT. Eighty-five percent of the respondents indicated they would find value in a resource recognizing contributions of women.

“That’s why,” Smith said, “in addition to the Most Influential Women in Health IT Awards – and our long-established events dedicated to women in the field – HIMSS has also introduced several new initiatives honoring the contributions women have made in health IT, and is committed to adding gender-focused resources for networking, mentoring and career advancement.

HIMSS’ 2016 Most Influential Women in Health IT Awards judges are:

  • Dana Alexander, RN, vice president of Divurgent Technologies and FY16 chairwoman of the HIMSS North America Board of Directors;
  • Diane M. Carr, deputy executive director for operations, North Bronx Healthcare Network;
  • Molly Coye, MD, social entrepreneur in residence, Network for Excellence in Health Innovation;
  • Jennifer Dennard, founder, #HealthITChicks;
  • Adrienne Edens, CIO, Valley Area at Sutter Health;
  • Willa Fields, RN, professor at San Diego State University and FY13 chairwoman of the HIMSS Board of Directors;
  • Denise Hines, CEO of eHealth Services Group and FY18 chairwoman of the HIMSS North America Board of Directors
  • Regina Holliday, founder, The Walking Gallery; and
  • Carla Smith, executive vice president, HIMSS.

HIMSS 2016 initiatives for women include:

  • HIMSS16 Annual Women in Health IT Networking Reception.
  • HIMSS16 Women in Health IT Roundtable – Empowering Women in Health IT Through Recognition, Resources and Access.
  • Curated content and resources via a special section dedicated to #WomeninHIT on HealthcareITNews.com.
  • A monthly eNewsletter, featuring exclusive content and career resources dedicated to women.
  • Publishing research on gender-based assessments of career compensation.
  • Most Influential Women in Health IT, a special issue of Healthcare IT News.

Twitter: @HealthITNews


This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the HIMSS16 conference. Follow our live blog for real-time updates, and visit Destination HIMSS16 for a full rundown of our reporting from the show. For a selection of some of the best social media posts of the show, visit our Trending at #HIMSS16 hub.

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