Women in HIT: Catalysts for change

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It’s National Health IT Week, and across the country healthcare stakeholders are recognizing and celebrating the impact of technology on this dynamic industry. To mark the occasion we decided to talk with some of the brightest women we know – here at Merge, at IBM and within our valued client base. We asked them what it’s like being a woman in HIT, how the field has changed over the years, and advice they’d offer to young women considering a career in STEM or HIT. They were insightful, witty, open and optimistic, and their observations and words of wisdom are well worth sharing.

Julie Pekarek, Vice President, Solutions Management, Merge
Julie Pekarek
Vice President
Solutions Management
Merge Healthcare
Audrey Veitas, Director, Product Marketing, Merge Healthcare
Audrey Veitas
Product Marketing
Merge Healthcare
Grace Feliciano, Vice President, Professional Services, Merge
Grace Feliciano
Vice President
Professional Services
Merge Healthcare
Lisa Smith, M&A Marketing Integration Executive, IBM Corp.
Lisa Smith
M&A Marketing
Integration Executive
IBM Corp.
Carol Joseph, RN, Director II, Clinical Imaging Program, Acension Health
Carol Joseph, RN
Director II
Clinical Information
Ascension Health
Ann Le Grand, Vice President, Imaging, IBM Watson Health
Anne Le Grand
Vice President, Imaging
IBM Watson Health
Nancy Koenig, General Manager, Merge Healthcare
Nancy Koenig
General Manager
Merge Healthcare
Liz Quam, Executive Director, CDI Quality Institute
Liz Quam
Executive Director
CDI Quality Institute

Q. In your time working in the healthcare space, can you share an example of how things have changed for women?

Julie Pekarek

“One of the best changes I have seen is the reduction/elimination of stereotypes. Early in my career, it was assumed that I was either the secretary or the HR representative because I was a woman working for the president of a business unit. When I worked for a health system, it was assumed that I was a nurse. Now, not only are those assumptions gone, but I have other women like me on the team!”

Grace Feliciano

“While there has been an increase in women in STEM fields including HIT over the last 20 years, I think we still have a long way to go. With that said, more companies are recognizing the benefits of having more women in STEM and in leadership roles, and have created development programs with actual management commitment, not just lip service.”

Carol Joseph

“When I started working in healthcare it was not very common to see a women in an IT role of any kind. Now young women are seeking out and thriving in advanced IT technology roles because it is part of their daily experience.”

Anne Le Grand and Liz Quam


Q. Can you describe an example of how women are creating change in HIT?

Lisa Smith

“I mentor several students at the Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy in Chicago. These teens are often hesitant to dive into new areas of thinking, but I’ve had the opportunity to see how that hesitation can quickly turn into excitement and knowledge that they would not otherwise have gained. This will most certainly create change in our industry.”

Julie Pekarek

“I think the saying ‘you can't be what you can't see’ is real. I was so fortunate to have started my career with strong, capable women in management. Today, women like Judy Faulkner and Ginni Rometty, just by being where they are, show women everywhere what is possible in their careers.”

Carol Joseph

“As women enter non-traditional space in HIT, they bring a different perspective and dialogue to the table. In particular, I would like to think that the movement of women clinicians into HIT helps to humanize the industry. After all, we’re not dealing with just software applications and the supporting hardware, we are potentially impacting a human life.”

Audrey Veitas

“Here at Merge, we see our customers creating change in HIT every day. Two great examples are Dawn Cram (University of Miami) and Cindy Fisicaro (Radiology Imaging Associates). These women leaders consistently team with us to push our innovative technology forward in the areas of enterprise imaging and radiology workflow. But their work doesn't stop there. They continue to dedicate their time and effort to move the entire industry forward by sharing their successes and best practices.”

Nancy Koenig


Q. What is the biggest obstacle or challenge you've overcome as a woman in HIT?

Grace Feliciano

“In the beginning of my career, the biggest challenges I had to overcome were the assumptions and biases not just from the people around me, but also from myself. Men and women alike made assumptions about where I wanted my career to go. As I got older, I had to overcome different assumptions and biases regarding raising a family and it was a constant juggle to show my dedication to my career while balancing my responsibilities as a wife and mother.”

Carol Joseph

“Coming from a clinical perspective as a nurse, it took a while to learn the HIT languages. It is just as complex and specialized as one finds on the clinical side of patient care delivery.”

Nancy Koenig and Anne Le Grand


Q. What advice do you have for young women considering a career in STEM or HIT?

Audrey Veitas

“You don't have to be a coder or an engineer to build a great career in an exciting technology field. And you can have a successful career in the healthcare industry even if you can't stand the sight of blood.”

Grace Feliciano

“Be conscious of behaviors you need to overcome including aversions to taking positions outside of your comfort zone or learning new skills. And don't be reluctant to promote yourself. You're your own best salesperson.”

Lisa Smith and Anne Le Grand


Originally posted on: 9/26/2016 9:42:12 AM

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Barbi Green
Barbi Green is Content Marketing Lead for Watson Health Imaging.

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