Navigating Uncertainty: Disruptive Women Style

A Disruptive Women Luncheon

Women spend much of their time learning to work around, work through and work directly on difficult challenges, be they work related, political (large and small p), accessing capital, work/life balance (whatever that means). The one constant we know is uncertainty. 2017 is unfolding to be a year of enormous uncertainty in every dimension of the word. Who better to share tips on navigating through waves of uncertainty than women who know how to throw on a life preserver (and matching shoes) and get stuff done. Join our global panel of experts for a spirited conversation. Lunch included.

February 21, 2017 — 12:30PM EST – 02:30PM EST

Orange County Convention Center - Room 414C

REGISTER NOW  Please register for the HIMSS Conference first then select Disruptive Women Luncheon from the Education tab as an optional event.  


Nicole Gardner

Halle Tecco

Ceci Connolly

Sarah Kerruish

Peggy Williams

Robin Strongin

Navigating Uncertainty

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Digital Health, Destiny and Doritos

This post was originally published on January 8, 2017 on Venture Valkyrie.

It’s the first of the new year and of course that can mean only one thing:  the avalanche of stories about how much was or wasn’t invested in digital health and whether the current environment favors/disfavors growth in this sector and all that jazz.

It used to be, once upon a time, that the advent of the new year meant all things biotech as JP Morgan’s Healthcare Conference rolled into town, but no longer.  The “digital health” concept and all it sweeps in with it has become as popular as the biotech talk just like Kanye/Kim have swept JZ/Beyonce to the back of the ballroom.

Given this phenomenon, I have been asked multiple times in the last few weeks to give my predictions about digital health in 2017 and to weigh in on what will be hot, what should be hot and what we can expect, particularly in light of, you know, the change.

So I figured I’d collect my thoughts here and also the responses I have given to various inquiries on the digital health discourse.  This way, when I am working the crowd at JP Morgan this week I can just say “have you read my blog?” instead of “well, you know, it’s all about VR and blockchain now” (hat tip to Matthew Holt).  My thoughts in somewhat random order:

With the burgeoning convergence of all things digital with all things healthcare, the noise level at JPM, the Consumer Electronics Show (where I was last weekend) and a plethora of other geek-friendly events has reached record highs.  It’s tough to find the shiny needles in the repetitive haystack sometimes.  So I have to say I am most on the lookout for real success stories, and particularly those that demonstrate how the confluence of IT and pharma or IT and medtech have meaningfully improved clinical outcome and reduced cost while doing so.  I’d also like to hear some evidence of how all of this big data/AI/machine learning work is resulting in actual activity to change physician and consumer behavior, particularly around improved diagnoses and avoidance of medical errors.  So far most of the talk has been about technology and too little of the talk is about results.  I hereby declare that the digital health theme for 2017 should be: you show me the evidence it works, I’ll show you the money! (more…)

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Congratulations to our November 2017 Disruptive Women in Health Care Man of the Month: Peter L. Levin

Hear Peter Levin’s most recent TEDxWilmington Talk. You are in for a treat.

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Walking in a Venture Fundingland

The post was originally published on December 18, 2016.

Weird Al Visits Visits Music Choice's "You & A"For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know I like to do a holiday song parody at the end of each year.  I love both comedy and music, and if I didn’t have a singlng voice that could raise the dead I could have been the next Weird Al Yankovic.  Lord knows I have the hair for it.

So here it is, my last post for the annus horribilis that was 2016: a new entrepreneurial anthem to ring in the New Year (or at least the JP Morgan conference): Thriving Here in Venture Fundingland.

whoville-singingYou know that part in the How the Grinch Stole Christmas where the Grinch and Max and the Whoville Whos are holding hands around the giant tree singing in unison (Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores….)? Just picture the startup teams you know hand in hand, encircling their obligatory ping pong table and singing my song with their venture investors. Yeah, yeah, I know.  No one wants to hold hands with venture capitalists; but that’s what the Whos once said about the Grinch, so one can dream.

Happy Holidays to all my friends and followers!

Thriving Here in Venture Fundingland

(sung to the tune of Walking in a Winter Wonderland)

NASDAQ bell rings
Are you listening?
Sand Hill Road
Term sheet glistening
A beautiful sight
We're debt-free tonight
Closing here in venture fundingland

Gone away, is the bridge round
Series A, is now inbound
The syndicate‘s strong
Let’s hope they sing our song
Launching here in venture fundingland
In the valley we can build a startup
And write software til we’re all face down
We’ll say yes we’re harried
But it’s OK man,
‘Cuz if we don’t succeed
Next round is down

Later on
We'll conspire
As we dream of values higher
To face unafraid
The Board that we've made
Growth hacking here in venture fundingland
Build the team
No vacation
Chase the dream
With ROI in sight
VCs use pre-emptive rights
Traction here in venture fundingland
Cash burn, we’re optimizing
To avoid a big downsizing
Bring investors along
Pivot when we’re wrong
Scaling here in venture fundingland
In the valley we can build a Newco
And pretend we know what’s in the cloud
Wear black turtlenecks and work in stealth mode
And exit long before markets melt down
When it pays
Ain't it thrilling
By skin of teeth, make a killing
We'll frolic and play, drive our Teslas away
Surviving here in venture fundingland
Thriving here in venture fundingland

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December 2016 Disruptive Women in Health Care Man of the Month – Connor Landgraf


Universities everywhere would do well to utilize Disruptive Women’s December Man of the Month Connor Landgraf in marketing campaigns, making the point that a single moment in a classroom can change the world.  Landgraf, at age 26, is the co-founder and CEO of Eko Devices, a start-up he created with two fellow graduates of the University of California, Berkeley.  Eko’s first product, the Eko Core, was named by TIME Magazine as one of 2015’s top inventions and he and his colleagues were selected by Forbes for its “30 Under 30” list of the brightest young stars in 15 different fields of endeavor.

For Landgraf, then a biomedical engineering major at Berkeley, this success began in a senior design class featuring guest speakers sharing perspectives on medical technology.  A discussion about the limited utility of the stethoscope and the difficulty of using heart sounds to detect cardiac abnormalities inspired Landgraf to bring 21st century digital capabilities to a health care tool that has remained largely unchanged since the early 1800s. (more…)

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Mental Health: Forward Thinking – The Implementation Plan


A major transformation programme for mental health is underway, an unprecedented and decisive step towards closing the treatment gap for mental health. The roadmap for change ‘Implementing the Five Year Forward View’ sets out how services will help reach a million more people a year by 2020/21. So how do we make the plans a reality?

“Implementing this plan will benefit people of all ages… As such, our aim to improve mental health and wellbeing cannot solely be achieved by the NHS, but must be delivered in partnership with other local organisations including local government, housing, education, employment and the voluntary sector.” Claire Murdoch, National Mental Health Director, NHS England; Foreword to ‘Implementing the Five Year Forward View (July 2016)

Published in the summer 2016 the document outlines how and when independent recommendations to improve care and services will be implemented on the ground. The report includes new funding, rising to £1bn a year, and details how workforce requirements will be delivered in priority areas, how access to services can be improved and data and payment levers will support transparency. The plan commits to improving access to high-quality care, delivering more integrated services and earlier interventions in a short timescale. National action, across a range of services, is required to put the plans into practice and ensure a long neglected part of the care system is overhauled, expanded and improved upon.

The fourth annual Mental Health conference will support NHS staff, organisations and other parts of the system in delivering the changes required to improve mental health care for all. The agenda will examine how to practically implement key recommendations and priorities, detail real life examples of new models of care and provide insightful progress on the local and national service improvements that are driving better outcomes.

View the event programme for the day.

Sponsorship opportunities.

Benefits of Attending.

Phone Telephone: (0161) 376 9007      email Email:      Book now

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Mobile Mirror, Mobile Mirror on the Brain: Mind, Maps, and Memory


Room: Potomac 1-3
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM


** This event requires a separate registration and add-on fee. It is NOT included with General Conference Passes.But, if you use our special code: DISRUPT16, you can attend at no charge.


A Disruptive Women in Health Care Roundtable: Tackling Brain Health

Women. We bring home the bacon and freeze our eggs. We learn from an early age how to multi-task (in heels while walking backwards—you have to be of a certain age to get that one).  We take care of things, and people. That’s what we do.  But what happens to us, to our brains, as we are busy taking care of everyone and everything?  Women are twice as likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s as men, making up two thirds of the 5.4 million people in the United States slowly dying with the disease; and women are two thirds of the caregivers. Once women reach 65, they have twice the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s than breast cancer. The burden multiplies when you consider caregivers. They frequently put their careers on hold and drain their own savings to provide care. One in five switches to part-time work, sacrificing hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost wages and benefits. Brain disease goes far beyond Alzheimer’s of course.  There are so many women who are on the bleeding edge of this work—in the labs and in the think tanks, in the trenches and in our homes. Come meet the brains behind numerous innovative advances in the study of brain health.  Learn about provocative new technologies and bold solutions as our panelists unabashedly share how they are tackling the hard stuff.  They’ve got the chutzpah, the moxie, and the smarts to power through the status quo.  Join us for a memorable conversation.


Robin Strongin, Founder of Disruptive Women in Health Care, will moderate this roundtable.


Corinna E. Lathan, Ph.D., Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Anthrotronix

Meryl Comer, President and CEO, Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative,

Glenna Crooks, Ph.D., Founder, SageLife, LLC


Sponsored by:


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The Sandwich and Boomer Generation’s Dilemma

Are you like us, part of the sandwich generation? We all likely know and help an aging family member, friend, or neighbor who has health issues, few community supports, and lives alone or with someone else who needs support. We also have our own concerns about one day facing the same challenges, or not being able to choose where we live. But we also aspire to have a quality of life that is not solely defined by our health status.

The Boomer generation is unprecedented in size, living well and longer into older years, but when frailty occurs and supports are needed, many older adults find that there are few informal and formal caregiver supports available, and that those that do exist are financially out of reach. Compounding the problem, oftentimes one’s living circumstances may lead to significant social isolation that can negatively impact health and well being. Regardless of how many times we hear about the costs and quality of life issues staring our older adults in the face, little seems to change in terms of policies, programs, and personal planning. But denial and inaction are no longer viable in the face of the unprecedented aging population and the strong preference older adults have to age in place.

There may be a silver lining for the silver tsunami. Nascent but positive trends are emerging in the form of innovative policies and programs that integrate health and community-based services with the goal of helping people stay healthier as they age and manage difficulties better when they do emerge. Complementing these are a variety of grass roots, community-based initiatives — cohousing, villages and livable communities – that are creating infrastructure and support for aging in place. These promising policies and programs could be the start of a bridge between health-related community-based services and the grass-roots initiatives. Sustained funding to support these promising approaches, however, remains a challenge. (more…)

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The criteria to determine which organizations are diversity leaders

rockhealthThis post was originally published on Rock Health on December 4, 2016.

After reviewing hundreds of public nominations for the Top 50 in Digital Health: Diversity Leadership award, we are proud to announce the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Wellist as the deserving honorees of 2017. They each truly embody leadership in diversity, having continually shown their commitment to hiring, supporting, and building diverse teams to tackle the most pressing problems facing healthcare today.

We know that having a diverse team creates a positive and more inclusive culture—and benefits the bottom-line through a lower turnover rate. Disruptive Women in Health Care, a longtime Rock Health friend, provides a platform for provocative ideas in healthcare focusing on the subject of diversity. Rock Health partnered with Disruptive Women to determine the honorees and develop criteria to better measure companies’ commitments to diversity. (more…)

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Prioritizing Sex-Based Research in Heart Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease

This blog was originally published by The Huffington Post on 11/30.

Co-authored by Jill Lesser, President of WomenAgainstAlzheimers and British Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Heart Alliance.

What if we could access knowledge that would transform modern medicine, enabling better disease prevention, better clinical decision-making, better therapeutics and better health outcomes for all Americans?

We don’t have to imagine. The answer lies in making medical research truly inclusive—in part, by filling the widespread gender, racial, and ethnic gaps in clinical trials; and most significantly, by studying sex differences in disease. These differences include the risk factors women and men face, the way they develop and experience illness, and the way they respond to treatment.

Sex matters. Every cell has a sex, and male and female cells react differently to the same stimuli. Understanding sex differences can revolutionize how we diagnose, care, and cure disease, from catalyzing therapeutic breakthroughs and innovations to driving meaningful advances in women’s health and, thus, strengthening society as a whole.

That is why, at a time when the promise of precision medicine is gaining momentum, sex-based research should be at the forefront—beginning with heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. (more…)

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This World AIDS Day, many of you are helping to educate women about HIV testing, prevention, and treatment. We just want to remind you that the FDA Office of Women’s Health is a partner in your outreach and care. Please use these FDA resources in your activities today and in the coming year.

Also, join us in the fight to help find a cure. Our Diverse Women in Clinical Trials Campaign is mobilizing women of diverse backgrounds to participate in HIV clinical research. Encourage the women in your networks, regardless of age, HIV status or sexual orientation, to participate in clinical trials.

Join Us

Retweet HIV and Clinical Trials information from @FDAWomen on Twitter.

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Tales, Tips and Love from Women Caregivers


Elayne Clift

Women have always been caregivers. Whether looking after small children, elders, other family members or friends in small communities, tending to others in urban settings with limited support systems, or acting as professional caregivers in institutional settings, we have been the primary providers of physical care and emotional support in a variety of settings and circumstances throughout the ages.

Today that remains true, and being the main caregiver may be more vital than ever. As women have children later and elders live longer, we are challenged by competing demands and shrinking resources. Many of us have elderly parents living (perhaps with us) in a time of growing dementia or increasing frailty; others have parents who need supervision in nursing homes of dubious quality. At the same time, we are parenting children who quite often have their own physical or mental health challenges. We may also have spouses in failing health who need our attention. And who among us would not be there for an ill friend or family member?

Whether we are younger women focused on child care, older women charged with “being there” for a sick spouse or parent, or women in the Sandwich Generation who are called upon to take care of children and parents simultaneously, many of us find ourselves in the caregiver role, well before we expected to be there and often feeling less prepared than we wish.  We are all caregivers at some stage of our lives, and we all have stories to tell about what that has meant for us.

It’s important to emphasize women as caregivers because while men and women are both likely to fulfill caregiving roles, female caregivers spend many more hours providing care. They spend an average of 680 hours per year providing care, 160 more hours on average than male caregivers. Female caregivers may spend as much as 50% more time providing care than male caregivers. (more…)

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Disruptive Women Events: Not to be Missed

Mark your calendars now, we are not ending this year quietly and 2017 is shaping up to be a very busy year—lots of disrupting to do and we hope to have you join in!

December 13, 2016: Mobile Mirror, Mobile Mirror on the Brain: Mind, Maps, and Memory (Use promo code DISRUPT16 to get in free!)

January 8, 2017: J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference/Rock Health Digital Awards Dinner

Disruptive Women in Health Care is pleased to have been asked by Rock Health to collaborate on their Diversity Leadership Award which will be presented at the upcoming J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference as part of the Top 50 in Digital Health Awards Dinner hosted by Fenwick & West, Goldman Sachs, Rock Health, and Square 1 Bank: Sunday, January 8th in San Francisco.

A little about the Diversity Leadership Award: Tackling complex problems in health care requires not only the brightest minds, but diverse ones too. This award recognizes the organization that has shown the biggest commitment to diversity.

February 21, 2017: HIMSS Annual Conference/ Disruptive Women Luncheon
Navigating Uncertainty: Disruptive Women Style

Women spend much of their time learning to work around, work through and work directly on difficult challenges, be they work related, politics, access to capital, work/life balance (whatever that means). The one constant we know is uncertainty. 2017 is unfolding to be a year of enormous uncertainty in every dimension of the word. Who better to share tips on navigating through waves of uncertainty than women who know how to throw on a life preserver (and matching shoes) and get stuff done. Join our panel of experts for a spirited conversation.

Hear from our global panel: direct from the UK, Sarah Kerruish, Chief Strategy & Growth Officer, Antidote; Halle Tecco, Angel Investor & Founder, Rock Health; Ceci Connolly,President & CEO, Alliance of Community Health Plans; Peggy Williams, Partner, Lumeri; and Nicole Gardner, VP, Federal Healthcare & Human Services, Industry Leader, IBM Global Business Services and yours truly, Robin Strongin, will serve as moderator. (more…)

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November 2016 Man of the Month: Peter L. Levin

Peter L. Levin

Peter L. Levin

There’s an old saying that says information is power.  Peter L. Levin, founder and CEO of Amida Technology Solutions and Disruptive Woman’s November Man of the Month, has done that phrase one better, advocating the idea of “Data to the People.”

As millions of Americans know firsthand, Levin’s actions have more than matched his words.  For years, health data was stored in closed proprietary systems and made inaccessible to patients.  An individual with a serious health condition couldn’t present their health records to a new doctor because they were kept out of reach.

Blue Button changed this situation for the better.  As Chief Technology Officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Levin was instrumental in modernizing the VA’s health records system and creating Blue Button, an easy-to-use online mechanism that enabled veterans to gain immediate access to their health data.  This system has since expanded to Medicare beneficiaries and private health insurance clients, making it the most widely-used personal health records program in the country.

Today, Levin has both a position from which to continue bringing about change and an important cause to pursue.  The position is at Amida, a firm that has built a library of Blue Button and health informatics components that can make a significant difference in linking patients and consumers with their healthcare data being held in multiple repositories.  Through Amida’s systems, data in the possession of health insurers, clinicians, pharmaceutical companies, population health management firms, and employers can be consolidated, aggregated and made available to consumers for downloading and sharing.

Levin has said he believes his work is far from done and he is continuing to pursue an environment in which individuals can gain possession of their health care information just as easily as they can their financial records.   He is, in essence, calling for a new American revolution, this one focused on data.

November’s Man of the Month is making a difference improving health and lives by fully understanding that information is indeed power and using his voice and his considerable skills to ensure that data belongs to the people.

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An Epidemic of Elder Abuse Largely Affects Women


Elayne Clift

She was an 89-year old woman in good health when she entered a nursing home for physical therapy after she’d fallen and broken her ankle. Three weeks later, her leg was gangrenous. Three months later, she was dead. The nursing home where she’d been treated was fined more than $112,000 for “neglect,’ a charge the nursing home director refuted. But the doctor’s orders, which called for monitoring the circulation in her leg and checking her skin for swelling or rednessevery shift had never been followed, nor was her wound bandage ever changed. Even when the woman complained of excruciating pain the staff simply gave her pain medication. After a physical therapist said her leg smelled like “rotting meat” she was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late. Gangrene had set in and an amputation was performed. She died shortly afterwards.

That is a true account, cited in the 2009 report, “Elder Abuse: A Women’s Issue,” published in the Older Women’s League (OWL) Mother’s Day Report that year. It is still considered the go-to document on women and elder abuse because there is precious little other disaggregated data or information relating to how elder abuse affects women.

Here’s what we do know.  Elder abuse, defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “any abuse and neglect of persons age 60 and older by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust,” affects women disproportionately. According to the blog Statistic Brain, the average number of elderly abuse cases each year is 2,150,000. More than 67 percent of victims are older women. (Most of them are white.) The majority of older victims of partner violence and sexual abuse are also women.

It’s important to keep those statistics in mind when contemplating the following facts. (more…)

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