They are Women, hear them Roar!

March 03/13
Patti Ryan

Wednesday March 8th is International Women’s Day.

In celebration of the enormous contributions that women around the world are making to science and technology I bring you my favourite female contributors to the empowered healthcare consumer dialogue.  These are just a few of the female voices that the Fainting Goat follows and there are  many more inspiring, teaching, living and learning how to improve health through technology that I have yet to encounter.    I salute you, learn from you, seek inspiration from you and follow you (in a twitter way).  You are journalists, physicians, policy wonks, politicians, industry leaders, patient voices, students of healthcare, advocates for social justice, technologists, bloggers, developers and entrepreneurs.  You are also mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.   Happy International Women’s Day, may your efforts and voices stay strong for years to come.

Esther Dyson – Self-proclaimed “Internet Court Jester” – I first heard her speak recently at a broadcast of an Economist interview with Dyson and Dr. Daniel Kraft about Healthcare in 2013 and I was drawn to her refreshing voice and have been following her ever since @edyson on Twitter.   Esther Dyson is an achiever; she is an active angel investor in a variety of start-ups, for-profit and otherwise, around the world.  And, she seems to be having fun with just about everything she does.  I love that she has already published her epitaph on her business website EDventure “I wasn’t done yet! There is still more to learn and to fix.”  Oh, and she has written a book (on my to-read list) Release 2.0 A Design for Living in the Digital Age.

Regina Holliday – artist, advocate and brilliant visionary. What an incredible person, such an inspiration. Here is a link to  Regina Holliday’s Medical Advocacy Blog.  If you haven’t heard of Regina, please do yourself a favour and read her blog then follow her on twitter @ReginaHolliday.  Regina is the brainchild behind The Walking Gallery (I hesitate to summarize this project for fear of not doing her work justice).  She creates beautiful works of art that represent the patient experience in healthcare or an aspect of ‘The System’ that would benefit from discussion and she reproduces them on the backs of business jackets and gives them to notable attendees at medical conferences.  The jackets stimulate discussion and beautifully illustrate how difficult it is to turn your back on the patient when their voice is always present.  Her personal story is vividly described in her blog and depicted in her own jacket, I leave that with you to experience.

Jessie Gruman – author, epatient (4 time cancer survivor) and founder of the Centre for Advancing Health.  The Institute provides pragmatic resources to encourage all consumers to be a Prepared Patient.  She has authored a few books, check out After Shock.  What to do When the Doctor Gives You a Devastating Diagnosis.  Jessie tweets @jessiegruman and is a knowledgeable voice bridging the personal experience with her extensive understanding of healthcare and policy.

Michelle Petersen – journalist and champion of innovation of health in pharma.  Michelle is founder of Health Innovations – A Platform to Enable All Sectors Within the Health Industry.  She is a prolific tweeter and brings a wealth of information on clinical trials and news from the pharmaceutical side of the industry.  Her blog is Health Innovations.  Follow her on twitter @shelleypetersen.

Dr. Leslie Saxon – Lelsie works in the coolest place, the USC Centre for Body Computing– The CBC (not the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) believes that technology solutions are not the problem (or the drivers of our terrific and ever rising health care costs), they are the solutions, and they represent the very best achievements in modern society.  The CBC is an innovation incubation center that commercializes wireless health products that will transcend policy and politics in the future.  She gave a great Ted Talk in 2010 on the need for technology in healthcare and provides a plain-speak explanation of why we shouldn’t put patients in ‘information purgatory’.  Leslie is working in this rapidly emerging environment and her tweets highlight how quickly technology is driving the future of healthcare.  Follow her @DrLeslieSaxon.

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn  – Healthy thinker – Jane is a health economist who works at the intersection of health and technology (my favourite corner).  In her most recent blog The future of sensors in health care – passive, designed, integrated, she explores how sensors will help consumers monitor and manage their health conditions.  Love the infographic too.  You can follow Jane @healthythinker or check out her website Health Populi .

As my final shout-out in honour of International Women’s Day, I would like recognize the recently launched project, Chime for Change.   Despite the glossy celebrity endorsements, I’m optimistic that some awareness and good work may emerge from the effort.  The six women that I’ve highlighted are all North American women (Esther is Swiss born but a native of NYC now) a fact that does not escape me and I believe highlights the global aspect of gender inequality in science and technology.  We are so fortunate to live in a time and space where the contributions of women in science and technology are celebrated and their voices are heard, but not all women and girls have the same opportunities.  View the video, and if you see value in the effort, give them a follow @chimeforchange.

As Hillary Clinton said  “It is past time for women to take their rightful place, side by side with men, in the rooms where the fates of peoples, where their children’s and grandchildren’s fates, are decided.”

It’s your health.  It’s your health information.  Manage it well.