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Women to the rescue: addressing the talent gap in the MedTech industry

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Shikha Pillai, Head Strategy, Siemens Healthineers Development Center talks about addressing the talent gap in the MedTech industry

The world of today is focused on healthcare. The pandemic has laid bare the need for adequate healthcare infrastructure and services, and exposed disparities in health equity, access, and affordability. MedTech organizations, including Siemens Healthineers, have been working hard to support healthcare providers to address COVID-19 as well as broader healthcare needs.

One of the challenges we face is the lack of a skilled workforce to enable healthcare innovation at scale. Developing women talent as active participants in the MedTech ecosystem will make a big difference and enable outcomes such as:

Improved understanding of women’s health

Full and equal participation of women is a must to meet the unique requirements of women as healthcare consumers. MedTech today has a strong focus on Women’s Health especially diseases like Breast and Ovarian cancer that primarily affect women, cardiovascular and renal diseases that pose a significant risk, and thyroid and autoimmune diseases that are more prevalent among women[1]. There are many opportunities to improve how we prevent, detect, and treat diseases affecting female patients throughout their lives. Having more women in the industry will better expand our understanding of such patient needs and enhance decision-making.

Limiting gender bias

The pace of change of technology and innovation has been unprecedented over the last few years. While technology advancements such as Artificial Intelligence help augment clinical and operational decision-making, one of the challenges is avoiding bias in developing such systems.

Women’s symptoms are often misdiagnosed and mistreated, and gender data bias has also been called out in MedTech innovation. British journalist and feminist activist Caroline Criado Perez highlighted[2] how biased design is prevalent and has dangerous implications for women. This needs to be changed and consequently is why we need more representation. Having more women data scientists, designers, and technologists within the industry can help call attention to such biases before impacting lives.

Empathetic innovation

Medicine is becoming more precise and patient-centric. Close engagement and co-creation with providers/customers is vital to be able to address the changing needs of the healthcare landscape.

My experience shows that women bring in a balanced view and are more sensitive to the needs of those around them. This is probably why many of the product owners in my organization are women and excel at this role. Their unique perspectives and ability to be observant ensure meaningful product definition and design that improves the experience for patients and providers.

Of course, these are just some of the many ways women can create a significant impact in this industry’s development. We have a long way ahead of us to make the healthcare of tomorrow inclusive and equitable. Increasing women’s participation can accelerate our journey.

 

[1] Siemens Healthineers Women’s health

[2] Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

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