There Will Never Be a New World Order Until Women Are a Part of It

This article was was originally posted on January 22, 2017, in Venture Valkyrie.

“There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it.”

Alice Paul

It has been, not just for me but for many, national women’s month. Maybe it’s not officially proclaimed as such, but it has just worked out that way.

It started for me the second week of January at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. What has been notable about this conference in past years is the absence of women. I even wrote about this in 2011 in a post called, “Alas, No Line for the Ladies Room,” in which I lamented the stunning absence of my sisters at what is arguably the most important healthcare business conference in the world. I recall noting that, back in 2011, attending JP Morganpalooza was like speed-dating but without the women in the equation, making it considerably less fun.

Suboptimal speed dating

There was a notorious event, hosted by LifeSci Advisors, at 2016’s JP Morgan conference which seems to have had the unintended consequence of waking the sleeping giantess. The firm hired a bunch of female models to entertain mostly male guests and blocked many women from attending. They were pilloried for it (I wrote about it HERE) and then massively apologized by pledging to get enlightened. Um, yeah.

But this year is apparently the year when the tide started to turn. I recall noting a sense of optimism last year, but this year, as I write this the day after the Women’s March that followed the 2016 election, I am hoping we are officially on an unstoppable pink train. Yes, it’s disturbing (to say the least) that the electorate has chosen people and policies that are decidedly anti-female. But this time, it provoked a disturbance in The Force that has roared back 2.5 million strong and growing. Can it be a coincidence that the biggest box office hits so in recent weeks are a) Rogue One, where a badass young woman leads the effort that results in the overthrow of the evil empire?  and b) Hidden Figures, a movie which honors the work of three young black female scientists, programmers and engineers at NASA without whom the space program may not have succeeded as it did.

As I watched the Women’s March from the sidewalk and from the TV screen yesterday, I couldn’t help but think that this women thing is for real and finally so. Even at JP Morgan, the tide seems to have turned. While in past years there was an event or two targeted to the dribble of women who attended the conference, this year there were at least 8 events that I personally heard of that were women-only and overflowing. Silicon Valley Bank, Deloitte, Canaan Partners, Wilson Sonsini, Women Business Leaders, Springboard, Square One Bank, GE Ventures and many others led events that were exclusively or primarily aimed at giving women a chance to celebrate their successes and network with each other. This is a massive upgrade over prior years and speaks to the number of women who showed up to do serious business at the conference this year. It was hard to miss the trend when in many other years it was hard to miss the oversight. A great thing. (more…)

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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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Fighting the injustice of health disparities: Honoring the legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Dr. John M. Eisenberg

Robin Strongin

For the past several years I have run this post and just as it was those years, it is this year a very important message.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.John EisenbergWe, as a nation, have made progress and I believe Dr. King would be proud. But our work is far from complete – particularly where health care is concerned. Another doctor, Dr. John M. Eisenberg, a physician of tremendous stature whose life was also tragically cut short (not by an assassin’s bullet but by brain cancer) was equally passionate about the dignity of life and justice for all Americans. Dr. Eisenberg, who among other things, served as the Director of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (as AHRQ was known back in the day), cared deeply about access to and the integrity of health care for all Americans – regardless of skin color.

Seventeen years ago, on January 14, 2000, Dr. Eisenberg gave what is, in my opinion, a brilliant speech to the employees of the Department of Health and Human Services. As with the past years I want to share his words with all of you today — as a reminder of how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. (more…)

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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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Alzheimer’s Patients and Caregivers: Brain Breakdowns in Tandem

Glenna Crooks

An Alzheimer’s patient’s brain is not the only one broken-down by the disease. The caregiver’s brain is, as well. How could it not?

Consider soon-to-be-caregiver, Margaret, in this MindMap of her life. She is not a real person by the way, but this picture of her life is based on real people and might be a lot like yours. Like many today, she is busy, time-crunched and already on “cognitive overload” as a working wife and mother with a home, three children, a dog, a cat, and a small vacation home. Her husband works for a global company and travels most of each week. She joined her father-in-law’s accounting firm and recently became the managing partner.

Margaret’s life is near perfect. She is financially secure and her family has never faced anything worse than ordinary illnesses, occasional plumbing problems and snow days. It is overloaded, though, and about to be more so as it collides with Alzheimer’s Disease: her widowed father-in-law has just been diagnosed. Others in his family do not live nearby and given her husband’s travel schedule, she will become the caregiver.

Imagining she was my best friend, I set out to help her. It took far longer than I thought to understand the stages of the disease and caregiving dynamics and to map them out to show her and help plan next steps. It did not take long, however, to realize that she needed far more than information. She needed help, not only for caregiving but for coordination, and that was not easy to find. (more…)

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Closing Out 2016 at the Disruptive Spa (not really, just taking some R&R)

Robin Strongin

As we close out 2016, I want to take the opportunity to thank all the disruptors out there—women and men—working hard to get the needle to move (or at least to quiver).  We know, with absolute certainty, that progress is not linear, it can take longer than we’d like, and it can be exhausting.  But, it can also be exhilarating, satisfying, and surprising.

We are very excited to announce our 17 Disruptive Women to Watch in 2017—but unlike past years, you will have to wait until early 2017 to find out who these amazing women are and how they are shaking things up.  Hey, we are disruptive so we like to mix it up from year to year.

And, what a year it has been.  Disruptive Women has had a very busy year (so what else is new, women’s work is never done) and we have fabulous programs planned for 2017: make sure to see us in January at the JP Morgan Health Care Conference, in February at HIMSS and stay tuned for many more exciting programs.

So that we can spend time with our loved ones, and polish our disrupting skills, we will be on R&R until the start of the new year.

Warm wishes for a happy, healthy holiday season.

A few words of inspiration to ring in the new year:

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

“Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.” –Margaret Thatcher

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker

“When you lose a couple of times, it makes you realize how difficult it is to win.” – Steffi Graf

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin

“You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.”– Maya Angelou

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” — Coco Chanel

And this gem from Elvis: “You’ve got to follow that dream, wherever that dream may lead.”



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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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The Digital Health Gap For High-Cost, High-Need Patients

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

This post was originally published on on December 7, 2016.


Several market forces are converging that boost patients’ ability to engage in their health and self-care, including peoples’ growing adoption of smartphones, demand for self-service and DIY lifestyles, and Americans’ growing responsibility as health consumers. Health consumers are using a growing array of self-health tools, enabled through digital technologies. However, these tools aren’t yet engaging some of the very people who need them the most: high-need, high-cost patients.

Research into this situation is discussed in the December 2016 Health Affairs article, Many Mobile Heaath Apps Target High-Need, High-Cost Populations, But Gaps Remain, published in the December 2016 issue of Health Affairs. For context, this research focuses solely on mobile health apps, and not the larger topics of telehealth and remote health monitoring. (more…)

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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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Youth and the Young. Health and the Healthy.

Glenna Crooks

We’ve all heard it: “Youth is wasted on the young.” To that, I’ll add “Health is wasted on the healthy.”

Both sayings came to mind as I read Elayne Clift’s post about caregivers a few days ago. To the national numbers she cited, I’ll add a few more. Mine don’t come from national surveys but from working to understand life in a “new way,” one that is vital if we are going to roll up our policy sleeves and help caregivers.

This new way identifies all the connections we maintain with other people; connections that are vital if we are to have families, careers, homes, and a social life. Most of us – especially when we are young, healthy and exceptionally energetic – manage these connections without much thought. Then, as the world gets more complicated, our lives get more demanding, our “village support systems” fray and life tosses us a wildcard, all hell breaks loose.

Here’s a simple example. In this family, the husband and wife met in college, married soon after, bought a home, had three children and adopted a rescue a dog. Both have jobs. The wife – let’s call her Margaret – manages slightly more than 600 connections for her own life and career, her children’s lives, her extended family and in-laws, her home and her community volunteer activities. This number might seem large and surprise you. It surprised her, too, but it is “average” for a woman in her situation. Because her husband travels extensively for his job, Margaret is the principal caregiver for her children, who range in age from 9 to 16. Responsible for their welfare, she stays connected to their teachers, coaches, car pool drivers, classmates’ parents and neighbors. Although she has aging relatives and knows that one day they will need her support, they don’t yet need her help to manage their health or households.

Around the time of her 45th birthday Margaret was diagnosed with celiac disease. Given the genetic nature of the condition, it wasn’t surprising that months later her three children were diagnosed as well. To protect the family’s health, especially where the children were concerned, she determined that 200 of the 600 connections she managed needed to know because food was involved. Especially when she was not around to supervise, she wanted to be sure others were informed and would help the children avoid gluten.   (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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