Key Lessons from Some of the Most Influential Women in Healthcare Today

The healthcare industry, like many others that have been around for a long time now, isn’t exactly known for its rapid innovation or willingness to embrace new ways of doing things.

That’s understandable. After decades of experimenting and trying things, we’ve settled on time-tested approaches that work. But the explosion of new technology is disrupting the landscape in a big way. It’s opening up new avenues to approach healthcare marketing–and changing how we see healthcare overall.

Some influential women, relying on their unique backgrounds and perspectives, are leading the charge in healthcare’s increasing innovation. There’s plenty to learn from their insights.

Different Backgrounds, Experiences, and Unique Perspectives

MAKERS is a women’s leadership platform that highlights some of the most inspiring women in various industries. Some of their excellent videos feature women in the science, technology, and healthcare spaces.

Here are some of the most influential women profiled in those fields. How they approach their healthcare businesses–the lessons they share in their own words–might just change the way you think about healthcare.

Anne Wojcicki


Photo credit: MAKERS

Anne Wojcicki is the CEO and co-founder of the personal genetic company 23andMe. She was interested in science from an early age, even sharing how her father (a physicist) showed her how to make a magnet out of Styrofoam.

Here are some of the most important takeaways from Anne’s videos:

  • Focus on making an impact. Anne says that you have to do some type of work anyway, so you might as well do something you love and try to make a big impact.
  • Passion and fascination trump academic knowledge. Anne admits she never was a top student in her science courses at Yale. But she never let that stop her from following her passion and allowing it to inspire her to start 23andMe.
  • Science should be understandable (and fun) for everyone. Anne believes that we can break down science in ways everyone can understand. And not just that: she works hard to pique people’s curiosity make learning about genetics fun.
  • Empower customers to make an impact too. Becoming a 23andMe customer doesn’t just help you find out more about your genetic makeup. It also provides valuable data for research on Parkinson’s disease, breast cancer, and many others. Customers can feel good knowing that they’re contributing to scientific research–even without a fancy degree or lab coat!

Halle Tecco


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Halle Tecco is the co-founder and CEO of Rock Health, a startup accelerator focused on entrepreneurs eager to explore healthcare and technology. Tecco describes her organization as basically a “summer camp for entrepreneurs.” But her work accomplishes much more than that. The goal at the end of the accelerator is to connect promising entrepreneurs with the venture capital they need to grow.

Here are some of the key insights from Halle’s videos:

  • Make an impact by empowering others to make an impact. Innovations from Rock Health entrepreneurs include the ability to detect ear infections from a smart phone and an application that gives you real-time feedback while you meditate, just to name a few.
  • Let the critics motivate you. One of the biggest reasons why Halle founded Rock Health was to prove critics (the people who say that digital health is unsustainable) wrong.
  • There will always be skeptics and “old guard.” Don’t let them slow you down as you innovate.
  • Make time for human connection. It’s easy to neglect in-person contact in today’s digital age. But Halle makes time every month to host her “The XX in Healthcare” dinners, where women in the healthcare industry network and connect.

Jane Chen


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Jane Chen is the co-founder and CEO of Embrace, a social enterprise dedicated to helping vulnerable newborns in developing countries. Her inspiring story began with non-profit work educating children and parents who were affected by AIDS. Everything came to a head in one of Jane’s classes as Stanford, where a design challenge inspired her idea to create her infant warmer.

Here are some of the key takeaways from Jane’s videos:

  • Start with a big vision. Jane imagined a world where people no longer died from preventable causes, no matter where they lived. That vision ultimately resulted in her creating Embrace and her revolutionary infant warmer.
  • Every small step counts. Jane’s vision for a better world will take a lot of work to become reality. But she’s quick to point out that even the smallest step–treating a single patient, improving the infant warmer, etc.–matters.
  • Embrace your natural talents. While Jane recognizes the challenges of being a woman in the healthcare world, she chooses to use her uniqueness to her advantage. She believes women are naturally more collaborative and compassionate–traits she looks for in great leaders.

Nadine Burke Harris


Photo credit: MAKERS

Nadine Burke Harris’ fascination for science began early. When she was only five, she wrote her doctor a letter asking him what made her toes move when she wanted them to. This fascination led her to get a medical degree, open up a children’s clinic, and even found the Center for Youth Wellness, an organization dedicated to spotting and treating toxic stress in children.

Here are some of the most interesting insights from Nadine’s videos:

  • Every challenge is an opportunity. Nadine first started working at a medical center with only one pediatrician serving a community of over 10,000 children. It was an incredible challenge, but it led her to open her own center, and eventually, the Center for Youth Wellness.
  • Take the long view. Nadine is well aware that healthcare doesn’t end the moment someone steps out of the hospital or doctor’s office. New research connecting childhood trauma to negative health effects later on in life inspired her to intervene early through the Center for Youth Wellness.

Over to You

Women have long been underrepresented in the highest levels of healthcare and technology. That’s changing quickly; now, they’re bringing their unique perspective to the table to launch companies, propel innovation, and impact millions.

There’s plenty we can learn from their inspiring stories. Above all, they’re great reminders to question our assumptions, look at how we’re doing things now, and see if there’s any room to improve.


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