Words matter. HIMSS Executive Vice President Carla Smith and the women she called upon to help her create the inaugural Most Influential Women in Health IT Awards, are in accord on this. As they see it, "influential" is the mot juste.
The women who received the award are also in agreement. They see the distinction not only as a badge of honor, but also a call to action.
"Many times awards are a recognition of past accomplishments," said award recipient Lisa Stump, CIO at Yale New Haven Health System and the Yale School of Medicine.
"This one, for me, was really a call to action," she added. "The choice of the word 'influential' was incredibly smart, and for me represents an expectation that we are all today at the start of what we will accomplish next."
Stump, one of seven women to receive HIMSS' first-ever Most Influential Women in Health IT Award, spoke at the HIMSS17 Women in Health IT Roundtable, the second one HIMSS has held on the topic of women in the health IT workplace. Last year, the roundtable focused on pay inequity in the sector, how to close the gap and how best to recognize women’s achievements in health IT.
In 2006 the average female IT worker made 81 percent of the average male IT salary and by 2015 that difference widened to the point where women are compensated at a rate of 78 percent for doing the same jobs, according to the HIMSS Longitudinal Gender Compensation Assessment, released in July 2016.
Work on closing the pay gap continues, even as the women at Women in Health IT roundtable at HIMSS17 turned their attention to how best to influence. The roundtable this year included the seven recipients of the HIMSS Most Influential Women in Health IT Award, as well as the judges for the initiative.
Naming the award was intentional rather than serendipitous, and the members of the roundtable liked it.
"One of the things that I was impressed with this award in the first place was the choice of the word 'influential,'" said Adrienne Eden, vice president of education at CHIME and one of the judges for the awards. "We didn’t look at power. We weren’t looking at lifetime accomplishment. We were looking at influence."
"It’s so important that women understand how influential we are, and how much change we can provoke from wherever we are," Eden added. "The award is really meant to wake up all of our women colleagues and say, 'We want you too; all of you can start influencing right now.'"
"In this initiative, there are no winners and losers," Smith told the crowd gathered for a reception and dinner the evening prior to the roundtable. "Everybody wins in this because we raise the water for all." Smith noted Women in Health IT was a grassroots initiative that had grown over the span of just one year. At HIMSS17, there were more than 800 women attending the reception celebrating the awardees.
"We really spent some time on the word influential," Smith said. "This is not the most senior women in health IT. This is not the oldest women in health IT. We chose the word influential on purpose – because you can be influential at the very beginning of your career as well as being influential at the end of your career." She noted the women being honored, each of them accomplished, were at varying stages of their careers.
The recipients of the inaugural Most Influential Women in Health IT Awards are:
- Shareefa Alabdulmunem, head of eServices, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Saudi Arabia
- Marian Ball, senior advisor, research, at IBM Research. She is also professor emerita, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and affiliate professor, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
- Rachelle Blake, CEO, president, managing director of Omni Micro Systems, Omni Med Solutions GmbH (Germany), Omni Micro/Omni Med Solutions, Inc. (US)
- Christina Caraballo, senior healthcare strategist, Get Real Health
- Karen DeSalvo, MD, is the former Acting Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Karen Guice, MD, is the former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs
- Lisa Stump, senior vice president and CIO at Yale New Haven Health and Yale School of Medicine
The HIMSS Most Influential Women in Health IT Awards are sponsored by Verizon, EY and Cerner.
This article is part of our ongoing coverage of HIMSS17. Visit Destination HIMSS17 for previews, reporting live from the show floor and after the conference.