“I was interviewing for jobs and told over and over again that I had done too many different things, and that I needed to specialize in one thing to add value. I think for some people that is exactly where they add value, but for me, it wasn’t authentic to who I am …I can wear a lot of hats, and that allows me to connect the dots in this complicated healthcare ecosystem, and that will create value…for me, that was a really pivotal moment of trying to step into who I am, what I’m good at and what I stand for.”
Emily Durfee, Healthworx Hub Lead, shared some of her defining career moments in a recent Rock Health Summit panel focused on leadership journeys in digital health. Alongside other powerhouse women – Google’s Director of Health Equity and Product Inclusion, Ivor Horn; Evidation’s Co-Founder, Co-CEO and President, Christine Lemke; and Rock Health Chief Operating Officer, Megan Zweig—Emily offered advice to other entrepreneurs and professionals entering or working in the digital health space.
As the three talented women in digital health spoke, several themes emerged: paving your own way, bringing lived experience to healthcare and using technology and resources to do good in the world.
Zweig posed this question to the panel: What do you think digital health needs right now from its leaders? Durfee shared, “I think we need people who are unafraid to carve their own path… to recognize what they love, what they are passionate about, what they are good at and bring that to the world.”
Horn continued, “For the area that I think about—health equity—[we need] people who have lived experience. For healthcare, we need people who have context to what we’re building.”
Lemke rounded out the answers with, “I’m going to say ethics…technology across this spectrum of healthcare and care delivery, all the way back to things happening in biotech…they are going to change the way we think about humanity, how we equitably deliver care, how we think about how to use the technology for good, for bad, for optimizing against the bottom line or for optimizing for people. I think our next class of leaders have to have a clear vision around that.”
Though much of healthcare relies on and uses tech, it’s clear that the human relationships connecting the dots in the industry and advancing innovation remain integral to the future healthcare we aspire to create. Ultimately, effective, authentic leadership is critical to advancing the industry in a meaningful way. All three women went on to share their advice for someone who is just getting started in the industry, and they brought it back to the basics—talk to as many people as you can, don’t be afraid to have tough conversations and learn as much as you possibly can.
“Go out and talk to as many folks as you can; talk to people who will pick up the phone and give their time. Most people are willing to tell you how stupid your idea is, and that is great. And every now and then you land on a really good idea,” Lemke shared with a smile.
Healthcare won’t be solved by one person, or one organization, but the collective efforts of people like these women who bring bright minds, diverse thinking and entrepreneurial, people-focused mindsets to a massive and complex industry.
“I want to say, I am incredibly optimistic when I think about the future of healthcare with you all at the helm,” said Zweig as she closed the session. “I really appreciate you sharing your insights.”