A HIMSS Event | SANTA CLARA, CA | SEPT. 16-18, 2019
By Heather Munro, freelance writer focusing on emerging technology.
Despite women making up 80 percent of the number of healthcare workers, they are woefully underrepresented at the top of most healthcare organizations. The one place you’ll find more women in leadership roles? Digital health startups with more than $2 million in funding and founded in 2016, where nearly a quarter (24 percent) have female CEOs, according to a RockHealth report.
As part of a larger initiative to address the industry’s gender gap, HIMSS launched its Most Influential Women in Health IT Awards three years ago. The awards recognize women at all stages of their career progressions who harness the power of information and technology to transform health. This year’s winners were celebrated during a reception at HIMSS19. Read on to learn more about these inspirational professionals.
Director of Global Healthcare Solutions
An innovative and progressive leader making a global impact in her work with interoperability, Gupta’s unique experience driving change at Kaiser Permanente, combined with her presence at the frontier of technology innovations in Google Cloud Healthcare and Life Sciences, contribute to her powerful influence as a thought leader in digital health. In addition to various enterprise speaking engagements, including the HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition, Gupta helped spearhead the creation of the Developer Innovation Lab with HIMSS Innovation fellows. A champion for diversity and empowering young women, Gupta also formed GirlsInTek, an initiative dedicated to igniting the talents of young women interested in computer science.
“It is simple: Patient needs are at the forefront of everything Google Cloud builds for healthcare.” – Gupta
Kisha Hortman Hawthorne, PhD, MHA, MBA, BS
Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
A collaborative, energetic leader who has dedicated more than 16 years of her career to championing and advancing the use of health information and technology to improve care delivery, Hawthorne oversees a 550+ member information services (IS) department and participates on multiple governance committees. As the executive sponsor of the hospital’s Multicultural Professional Network (MPN), she supports multiple racial, cultural and ethnic groups that seek to foster a positive work environment. She also established the CHOP IS student internship program, which gives college students’ meaningful experience and exposure to health IT. Additionally, Hawthorne contributes her time to CHOP Tech, an annual event dedicated to inspiring middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers.
“IT is here to stay in healthcare and research. It’s the future of how we can make the lives of our patients and their families, and our employees and clinicians, easier.” – Hawthorne
Christine A. Hudak, PhD, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS
Health Informatics Program Director and Professor of Health Informatics
Kent State University School of Information
With more than 30 years of experience in the health informatics field, Hudak has influenced multiple areas of the discipline, including project management, systems implementation, systems analysis, teaching, instructional development and program administration. As a contributing interdisciplinary faculty member in the digital sciences program within the Kent State University’s School of Information, she’s also the only educator to receive this year’s award. Hudak holds membership in many health information and technology organizations, both nationally and internationally. As an educator and practitioner, Hudak has mentored many women in a variety of healthcare disciplines, as well as technology-focused roles. Many of Hudak’s mentees have gone on to obtain impactful roles within the digital health and care sphere, and most still actively keep in touch and seek her counsel.
“Health Informatics is a growing opportunity across the country. Where there is a large concentration of medical facilities and providers, the need is greater since there is more information in those facilities that needs to be managed.” – Hudak
Lygeia Ricciardi, EdM
Chief Transformation Officer
Over her 20-year career in the public, private and non-profit sectors, Ricciardi has influenced the health information and technology landscape significantly. She has actively supported the greater adoption and use of technology in healthcare, championing increased consumer engagement and empowerment in digital health. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT recognized Ricciardi’s achievements in “putting consumer eHealth on the map” through its Honorary Change Agent Award. Ricciardi enthusiastically supports the success of other women in the field and is deeply motivated to empower individuals to live better by leveraging information and technology for health and healthcare. She has crafted a career taking on risks such as starting her own business and championing initially unpopular ideas that show promise for meaningful industry change.
“Consumers want healthcare services on their terms. They want convenience, which is why we are seeing growth in retail health clinics and telehealth services. Who wants to (or can afford to) take off a day of work to drive (or take a bus) to a doctor’s office only to sit in the waiting room, potentially for hours to see a clinician for only 15 minutes?” – Ricciardi
Heather Sulkers, CAPM
Senior Director, EPMO & Clinical Informatics
Centre For Addiction And Mental Health (CAMH)
A natural, poised leader who excels by guiding teams united by working to make healthcare better, Sulkers provides leadership oversight for all projects and informatics initiatives at CAMH. She led CAMH’s achievement of HIMSS Analytics EMRAM Stage 7 in June 2017, and was recognized by Digital Health Canada as one of the top 10 Canadian Women Leaders in Digital Health for 2018. Sulkers also sits on various committees within and outside of CAMH, actively advancing the use of health IT within mental health and addictions populations. Through mentorship and training, Sulkers regularly helps students with academic opportunities like internship programs. In her teachings, she emphasizes the need for students to excel at stakeholder engagement and stresses the importance of technology working in concert with clinician needs and inputs.
“Change is never easy for clinicians... it is important to remember to look at things through the eyes of the stakeholders you are working with, even if you can’t implement a solution that is going to be 100 percent perfect.” – Sulkers
Diversity Brings Multiple Viewpoints to Healthcare
In addition to recognizing the award winners above, HIMSS19 was an opportunity for women making strides in gender and race diversity in healthcare to share their ideas and goals.
Iris Frye, chair of the HIMSS African-American Special Interest Group, and Danielle Siarri, RN, discussed the benefits of diversity in healthcare, especially in IT. To learn more, watch their interview from HIMSS19: Taking on the challenge of diversifying the healthcare workforce on HIMSS TV.