Highlights from the Disruptive Women UK Launch

Disruptive Women  11Yesterday saw the House of Commons launch of a new UK initiative – Disruptive Women in Health Care.

The group started life in the USA and its founder, Robin Strongin, joined a group of leading ladies from across the health and social care sector as well as business and technology world.

Supported by Big White Wall, a leading mental health resource, Jen Hyatt the CEO described how she came across the group on her recent travels to the America (Big White Wall was part of a recent delegation with Jeremy Hunt introducing UK health companies).

Leaving the audience in little doubt that she was herself a ‘disruptive woman’ Jen encouraged the audience to always ask questions of the status quo and lead their organisations from the front. In the UK over 80% of the non-medical workforce are women – but only 12% of the leadership. (more…)

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Disruptive Women UK Man of the Month


Disruptive Women UK launches today, Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is a part of a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

Drum roll please…the first Disruptive Women in Health Care UK Man of the Month is The Right Honourable Aneurin Bevan. As Minister of Health, he spearheaded the establishment of the National Health Service. Bevan was a lifelong champion of social justice and the rights of working people. He was a Member of Parliament for 31 years and was one of the chief spokesmen for the Labour party’s left wing, and of left-wing British thought generally.

Thanks in large part to Bevan on July 5, 1948, the government took over responsibility for all medical services and there was free diagnosis and treatment for all. Even after being moved to become minister of labour in 1951, Bevan never stopped advocating for health care…shortly after he became minister of labour he resigned from the government in protest at the introduction of prescription charges for dental care and spectacles. (more…)

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A quick guide to health care innovation and the NHS


Disruptive Women UK will be launching Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is a part of a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

So you’re officially a health innovator. You have a product that works, so now you just need some people to use it. Broadly, you have two options at this point – to get users to pay for it themselves, or to sell it to a healthcare provider to use with their patients. Selling direct to the public is great if you have the right sort of product, but it might be trickier in the UK than in the USA or in some parts of Europe because there isn’t much of a tradition here of self-payment for healthcare. It might be possible to sell to private health companies or clinics in some form, but this isn’t likely to be an option for most innovators.

This means that most UK health innovators are going to need to try to supply the NHS. Old hands tend to offer doom-laden prophecies at this point, saying that selling to the NHS is absurdly difficult and – more trenchantly – that the NHS is responsible for the failure of many viable, sensible innovations. Is this fair? (more…)

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Are we stuck in a digital cul de sac?

MLF pic

Disruptive Women UK will be launching Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is a part of a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

In the UK we have a problem. The big digital movers and shakers – Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon and many others – were founded in America. We are stuck in a cultural cul-de-sac. There are no easy answers as to why the UK does not have the digital confidence of the US, but we must do our best to tackle our low digital self-esteem. One reason is location. The UK is a test-bed for American companies before they go into other markets in Europe. Innovation from US companies is tried out in the UK at the earliest stage. When Google tests a game here before it goes international, it stamps out home grown innovation. My second observation would be about the dominance of the BBC. I believe it is a phenomenal organisation but a great deal of digital innovation in the UK has happened inside the corporation. It is impressive that the BBC develops something as good as the iPlayer so I would argue that this national institution is perhaps our best scale tech business – this presents interesting challenges as well as opportunities.

There are basic structural difficulties with digital development. In the UK we are not especially ambitious entrepreneurs and this is true in the digital world. While the number of startups indexes well with other countries, growing them into global billion pound companies is rare. (more…)

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The Best Innovations Come in ‘Human Size’

Jenny-Hyatt--003Disruptive Women UK will be launching Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is a part of a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

Recently, I was at TEDMED 2014 in San Francisco where game changers turned their minds to the future of science and humanity. Not even that famous fog could dampen the atmosphere, warmed by the sparks flying from ‘out of the box’ thinking.

The world of health care breeds innovative thinkers, radicals, people who see and act to ‘make things better.’ So why is health care so often not a place of change, but a place of stasis? Why do large health care systems praise innovation, yet struggle to adopt at scale the radical changes that are needed?

Change can be disorientating, and large systems can suffer from structural barriers to innovation that are hard to break through. And while, with resolve and vision, these can be tackled it is much harder to bring about change that requires a shift in power. (more…)

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Pull Your Own Oxygen Down First

Dr Clare Gerada

Disruptive Women UK will be launching Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is a part of a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

Almost everyone reading this will have heard the instruction given before taking off on any air flight, “in case of emergency pull your own oxygen mask down first before helping others.”

Over recent months I have repeated this phrase often – not, I hasten to add because I am now moonlighting as an Airline stewardess – no, because it is a phrase I give to doctors when talking to them about how to stay mentally and physically healthy in these troubled times. I am the Medical Director of an NHS service for doctors and dentists with mental health or addiction problems, which over the last five years has had nearly 1,500 patients presenting to the service for help.

Doctors, therefore, are not immune to mental illness, and in fact have high rates of depression and anxiety and significantly higher suicide rates than the general population – particularly so for female doctors. Doctors also misuse prescription or illicit drugs, and become addicted to alcohol. Yet despite these high rates, doctors are notoriously bad at caring for themselves, ploughing on despite everything. The adage that “doctors make bad patients” rings true – with presenteeism being more of a problem amongst doctors than absenteeism – such that doctors often present  very late for treatment, often in crisis or following problems at work or a drink-drive offence. (more…)

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Disruptive Women in Health Care Welcomes the UK: Keep Calm & Disrupt On

Robin Strongin

Disruptive Women UK will be launching Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is the first in a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

History tells us that Florence Nightingale was a nurse. Indeed she was. Not only did she lay the foundation for professional nursing, but her work as a statistician (an early pioneer in STEM and a health services researcher, no less) vastly contributed to improved military health and hospital planning. Her work as a social reformer made an enormous difference in the lives of many as she worked to improve sanitation, alleviate hunger and improve inhumane living conditions.  All of which, of course, improve health.

She regularly challenged the medical status quo of the time.  She clashed frequently with her colleagues and superiors.  She could be absolutely insistent that her ideas on how to care for patients should become the regular order and was not known to brook disagreement with good humor. (more…)

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Vaccine Injury Stories: the Sacred Cows of the Internet?

When I first started looking into vaccines, I had no idea that an anti-vaccine movement even existed. I came across claims that the vaccines were toxic and dangerous; the diseases, it was claimed, were not. I have some background in science, so I was able to dismiss those claims as inaccurate, but I couldn’t help but be drawn in by tragic, angry and deeply personal stories from parents who claimed their children were harmed by vaccines.

I dared not question them, but I still couldn’t understand…

If vaccine injuries were occurring on a scale like this, why wasn’t anybody doing anything about  it?  And why wasn’t the media reporting on them?

I wanted to know more about these vaccine injury stories but worried it would be insensitive to probe or question their accuracy. I could hurt their feelings or worse, insult their child’s memory. After all, while I (more…)

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No Evidence of Disease Screening

9.18Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz & Renee Ellmers are hosting a screening of No Evidence of Disease on October 1st at 6:15 PM at the Capitol Visitor Center, Orientation Theatre. The program will feature excerpts from the film, along with a panel discussion to include 3 of the N.E.D. doctors, and a short musical performance. For more information and to RSVP visit:  http://www.nedthemovie.com/events/2014/10/1/congressional-screening-of-no-evidence-of-disease.


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Federal Changes in Lab Results Access Can Make Personal Health Management Easier

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Have you ever received a phone call from the doctor’s office with the message, “Hello Ms. X, Your test results are normal.  Make an appointment next year.”?  All you know is what the healthcare provider tells you over the phone.  Maybe this conversation happened in the physician’s office during your visit.  Your doctor swoops in, glances at your test results and breezes through the test results.

If you are healthy and have never had any major health issues, this may be enough information.  You continue on for another year, or 6 months, without a worry.  But, maybe you wonder, “What does ‘normal’ mean?  Can I do anything to improve my health?”  How do you know?  Are you at the high end, the low end, just barely in the range? (more…)

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Calling all women for a unique hackathon

It is our pleasure to invite you to join us at a unique hackathon being presented by Intel-GE Care Innovations™, in collaboration with MIT and Stanford University.  This hackathon will generate answers for one of the biggest hurdles in health care today: connecting patients to their health and health care providers to patients outside of a hospital or physician’s office. Because of your expertise and innovative leadership in the field of health care and technology, we think you would enjoy our keynote speakers and the energy and ideas the hackers will create as they work on innovative solutions at the hackathon.  The hackathon will also feature a pre-event for women in healthcare technology that will bring together hackers, entrepreneurs, investors and clinicians for the opportunity to network and share success stories.  This will take place on Friday afternoon at 2pm and an invitation can be secured by contacting Karissa Price, Chief Marketing Officer, Intel-GE Care Innovations, at Karissa@Careinnovations.com.  Our goal is to encourage as many women as possible to participate in our hackathon and in stepping forward into leadership roles in healthcare in general. (more…)

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Consumer Centricity: The Market and Employer Must Focus On Building Better Decisions

Cyndy NayerThe NYTimes highlights the news on employer sponsored insurance:  premiums have not risen at the expected rate, rather they are staying under 8%, mostly around 6%.  This can change, however, based upon risks and percentage of insured from one city or state to another.

There is still more in the Kaiser Foundation survey that shows the changes over time in employer/worker payments. What this means for employers and employees, however, is a new focus and determination to keep people well.  Worker premiums have gone up year over year from 2006 till now, and at a significant rate.  More of the cost burden has shifted to the insured worker.  As the small business exchanges are starting to open, more workers will get their insurance in the exchanges.  That means that care coordination and chronic care (more…)

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An Apple a Day: What the iPhone Can Teach Us About Health Care

Robin Strongin

What took Apple so long to get in to health care? Here’s my suggestion from 5 years ago:

The day before my daughter Elise’s 15th birthday, the new iPhone went on sale.  My birthday was 4 days later.  So Elise figured out we should buy each other an iPhone to mark our big days.  She planned (and saved) for months.  She spent weeks talking to friends, researching apps on line, planning for such accessories as protective covers, and educating herself on how to maximize her minutes.

When the big day came, we made our way to the Apple store and stood shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of others waiting on a very long line.  Two and a half hours later we were invited, actually escorted, in to the store by an extremely friendly, knowledgeable young man who stayed with us during the entire purchase transaction.

He answered tons of questions (mine, not Elise’s…she already knew everything), politely reviewed various functions with me (Elise was extremely patient during this process), and made great suggestions about which plan was best for us. (more…)

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The Last Best Cure: How Simple Tools Can Improve Health and Well-being

Janice Lynch Schuster

My research scientist grandmother used to respond to my complaints of being “stressed out” by asking, “What’s stress? Just a force that holds up a bridge.”

On that one count, I’m afraid she was wrong. Contemporary research points increasingly to the significant negative effects of stress on our physical health, and its role in fueling chronic health problems and autoimmune disorders. Increasingly, science points to the healing powers of our own minds in countering the physical damage stress can cause and improving our health and well-being. (more…)

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Why I Fight for Change in Domestic Violence Legislation

In 2009 I became the victim of a violent crime, domestic assault with a weapon. The local newspaper’s front page story included the following phrases: “Felony Assault,” “Domestic Assault with a Weapon,” “False Imprisonment,” “beaten,” “hit about the head and body,” “beaten with hands, knees and feet,” “urinated on,” “beaten with a wrought iron cross,” “refused to let leave or use the telephone,” “numerous injuries,” “numerous bite marks about her body,” “lost consciousness,” “escaped.” Lucky to be alive should have been included.  (more…)

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