Mental health is a basic human right to fight for

Agnes Binagwaho, MD

Disruptive Women is embarking on an exciting week…Tuesday we head to NYC where we will be emceeing XX in Health as their retreat takes over the boy’s club (The Harvard Club). Then on Thursday we will be talking to women in tech at MassMEDIC. So as we interact with new disruptive women this week we wanted to reflect back and run some powerful posts from the past. Be sure to check the blog all this week for some of our favorites.

The following post by Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health of Rwanda, is part of Disruptive Women’s “The Value of Health: Creating Economic Security in the Developing World” series. Dr. Binagwaho is a pediatrician specializing in emergency pediatrics, neonatology, and the treatment of HIV/AIDS in children and adults. She has served 4 years as Chair of the Rwandan Steering Committee for the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and was responsible for the management of the World Bank MAP Project in Rwanda, while also serving on the country’s High Commission on Aid Policy.

A few days ago the world celebrated Mental Health Day, and more recently it was the Human Rights Day, as such I have decided to post a reflection on the rights of all people to access mental health care as a part of the access to health care as a basic Human Right. I especially dedicate this reflection to the issues surrounding access to quality mental health care services for women. (more…)

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The Digital Health Age Needs a Good Yawn

Glenna Crooks

Disruptive Women is embarking on an exciting week…Tuesday we head to NYC where we will be emceeing XX in Health as their retreat takes over the boy’s club (The Harvard Club). Then on Thursday we will be talking to women in tech at MassMEDIC. So as we interact with new disruptive women this week we wanted to reflect back and run some powerful posts from the past. Be sure to check the blog all this week for some of our favorites.

No, I’m not suggesting the digital age is boring. Quite the contrary. As new tools and technologies arrive to monitor our health while we sleep, eat, exercise, drive and work there’s lots to be excited about.

We’ll have more ways, more tricks and in some cases (like e-health games) more fun as we engage in staying healthy. Likewise, we’ll have more help to deal with the issues we’ll encounter as more of us survive the various conditions and events that in earlier times were death sentences. We’ll be better able to be healthy where we are, including at home as we age. (more…)

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Patricia Lee Stotter

meme 1

Susan Avila-Smith

© Susan Avila-Smith


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TBT: Angelina got tested. Will everyone at risk be able to?

Angelina_JolieGiven Angelina Jolie’s latest decision we felt it was appropriate for this TBT to re-run our post from when she had a double mastectomy in 2013. We would love to hear what you think about her decision to remove her ovaries.

Angelina Jolie announced today in a New York Times op-ed that she recently underwent a double mastectomy after finding out that she has the gene mutation known as BRCA1, which increases a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer by 87% over her lifetime (and ovarian cancer by 50%). It is certainly a marvel of modern medicine that we not only know about this gene mutation but have the ability to test for it. Jolie’s announcement put a well-known face to the name “BRCA,” which has been in the news a lot this year as part of a larger discussion about genetics and the law. (more…)

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Why Your Healthcare Organization Can — and Should — Adopt New Tech

Asha SaxenaIn a fast-paced, high-stakes hospital setting, delivering premium patient care is everyone’s top priority.

Naturally, as new tech enters the scene, you diligently work to implement it into your hospital. But when those changes interfere with your staff’s immediate focus on patient care, your push for efficiency might face some resistance. And without employee adoption, you can’t reap the benefits of new tech.

Say you’re rolling out a new payment method for HR, for example. Updating your system might be breezy, but integrating it into employees’ daily lives poses bigger challenges. While you might be able to force staff to use the new program, nurturing an environment that embraces innovation will take the pain out of tech adoption and allow your entire organization to enjoy the benefits. (more…)

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Big Annoucement about DW Woman to Watch Jen Hyatt and Big White Wall

PrintToday, the new NHS Choices Mental Health Apps Library was launched. Big White Wall was among the first five services to be featured. Read NHS England’s press release here.

This pilot is the ’first ever directory of NHS-endorsed digital mental health services’, and it will allow the public in the UK to explore mental health support options available online via the NHS.

The pilot was championed by Tim Kelsey, National Director for Patients and Information, Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s Clinical Director for Mental Health, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Jen Hyatt, Big White Wall CEO and founder, said: “We are delighted to be one of the first NHS-endorsed digital services on NHS Choices and applaud this bold move to bring the benefits of evidence-based digital technologies direct to the public.”

Note: Big White Wall is a client of Amplify Public Affairs.

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The State of Women in Healthcare: An Update

Halle Tecco

Exactly a year ago, we decided to publish the gender data on founders at Rock Health. Despite women being the majority of our team and our board, only 30% of our portfolio companies had a female founder (today, we are at almost 34%). Because we’d like to help our portfolio companies access a diverse talent pool, we began the XX in Health initiative nearly four years ago.

The aim of this initiative is to bring women together to network and support one another. The 2,400 members of the group share resources and ideas on LinkedIn and meet regularly across the country. This week we’re hosting a webinar on the topic for both men and women, and next week along with Disruptive Women, we’ll host our sixth XX in Health Retreat in NYC.

Today, through this initiative, we are proud to share our third annual report on the state of women in healthcare. Our past reports on this topic have been some of our most popular content, and we encourage you to share this report with your colleagues.

Women are still underrepresented in leadership positions in healthcare. (more…)

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5 years ago…”Health Reform: The Ayes Have It”

Robin Strongin

With all the calls for repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act it is hard to remember some of the important firsts that happened five years ago today. Reading the post Disruptive Woman Founder Robin Strongin wrote that day is a quick reminder of them. We most assuredly have a long way to go in improving our health care system, but we should take the time to reflect on and appreciate how far we’ve come.

What a night…several decades in the  making as many Representatives kept reminding us.

Why was last night different than all other nights?

Perhaps because for the first time there was a WOMAN Speaker of the House.  Perhaps because we have a staggering number of Americans who have no or little access to health insurance.  Perhaps it’s because the entire system(s) of care are so badly broken. (more…)

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The Affordable Care Act As New-Business Creator

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

The following post ran yesterday, March 19 on Health Populi.

While there’s little evidence that the short-term impact of the Affordable Care Act has limited job growth or driven most employers to drop health insurance plans, the ACA has spawned a “cottage industry” of health companies since 2010, according to PwC.

PwC-Cottage-Industry-due-to-ACA-300x226As the ACA turned five years of age, the PwC Health Research Institute led by Ceci Connolly identified at least 90 newcos addressing opportunities inspired by the ACA:

  • Supporting telehealth platforms between patients and providers, such as Vivre Health
  • Educating consumers, such as the transparency provider HealthSparq does
  • Streamlining operations to enhance efficiency, the business of Cureate among others
  • Connecting patients and physicians, like SmartPatients and Doximity do
  • Offering health and wellness benefits that complement health plans on the marketplaces, like the novel health plan Oscar does
  • Developing new payment and care delivery models, including Iora Health
  • Performing big data analytics, such as Human API does. (more…)

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TBT: All I Want for Christmas Is Customer Service at My Doctor’s Office

Casey Quinlan

Although several years old now several of Casey’s thoughts in the post below sadly still ring true today.

I have this dream. It’s about how, when I make an appointment to see my doctor – my primary care physician – the process is easy, honors my time as much as it does my doctor’s, and winds up running smoothly for both parties.

The dream starts this way: I realize it’s time for my annual physical, or any other usual-suspects periodic visit to my PCP. I open up my browser, point it to my doctor’s website, and log in to the secure patient portal. The one where I can see all my prescriptions, my personal health record, make an appointment (using the handy calendar function), request a prescription refill, ask the nurse or doctor a question via email, or download a PDF of my health record.

In my dream, using the handy scheduling function in the portal, I select a date and time for my appointment. The portal auto-populates that date and time with my name and insurance/contact information, since I logged in and it knows who I am. The system asks me if any information has changed. I click “no”. If I click “yes,” the next screen asks me to make the changes, and “submit”. (more…)

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Which is More Uncomfortable: The Colonoscopy or Treatment for Colon Cancer?

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Michelle was a healthy, active 47 year old. She tried to eat right and she exercised. It looked like the hard work was paying off: no health issues and lots of energy. Her work in the healthcare field motivated her to see her doctors regularly for checkups, to get mammograms and to have her blood work done annually. She knew she was getting close to the magical age of 50 and that soon she would need to get a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer.  Since she had no family history of the disease she wasn’t worried. She felt certain that, just as all her previous testing had come back normal, this one would too.

One morning she noticed a blood clot in her stool.  She had no pain, bloating or nausea and assumed that this was probably due to the aspirin she had taken the evening before.  “Well,” she thought, “since I’m due for my annual physical next week I’ll just mention it to the doctor.”

She went as planned for her physical and when she mentioned the blood clot to her doctor he suggested that since she was getting close to 50 she might as well go ahead and set up a colonoscopy now to be sure that it wasn’t anything serious.  She did and had an endoscopy as well to see if there were stomach ulcers causing the bleeding.

The news she received was devastating.  (more…)

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The Safety Nets Have Gaping Holes – Our Sewing Kit!

LH and AK headshots

Anne Klee & Laurie Harkness

In our country, two words that should never be spoken or written in the same sentence are Veteran and homelessness.  Yet all too frequently we hear this is the case.   Ten years ago there were estimated to be 250,000 homeless Veterans on the streets of America each night.  Today through the multi-pronged efforts of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), many state Governor’s, state agencies, and community agencies and partners, there are now less than 50,000 homeless Veterans each night.  Veterans are about 50 percent more likely than the general population to fall into homelessness, according to VA researchers.

The new subpopulation of homeless Veterans, female Veterans represent approximately 10% of the homeless Veteran population, yet are four times more likely to be homeless than those women who have not served.  Homeless female Veterans are likely to be divorced and single parents, victims of domestic violence, to “couch surf”, and more likely to have experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST) while serving. Vocationally, they have more difficulty keeping a job secondary to child care, transportation, and these trauma-related issues.   Since often their PTSD is not secondary to combat, many feel guilty, non-deserving of services, embarrassed, and feel uncomfortable talking about what led to their homelessness.   Many are distrustful of others.   Substance abuse is most common.  Some feel uncomfortable accessing the services of the VA (“It is still seen as a male institution”). (more…)

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Endo Awareness

Amber Coleman-MortleyMarch is endometriosis awareness month.  According the CDC, endometriosis occurs “when the kind of tissue that normally lines the uterus grows somewhere else”.  In other words your uterine lining can grow on ovaries, it can wrap around your intestines and in some cases on parts of the body nowhere near the female reproductive organs, like in a few rare cases the lungs.  As serious as this sounds, unfortunately, many people have heard more about ovarian cancer (which is very serious) than endometriosis.  I, however, have known about this disease and the havoc it can wreak for my entire life.

Growing up I used to pray that I would never get my menstrual cycle.  I never wanted children and I never wanted to take part in any of the natural changes that occur within the 21-35 day interval of femininity.  I saw it as the body’s unnecessary method of taking out the garbage and wondered what would happen if you could “become a woman” but keep all of that “stuff” in there. But alas the end of middle school came and my prayers were not answered.  I was a normal woman and I had to deal with the “tribulations of womanhood”. But my overall attitude toward the process changed when someone very close to me was diagnosed with endometriosis. (more…)

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Annie Levy’s Latest Project: “Ask Me a Question”


Annie Levy

Disruptive Woman Annie Levy has been busy lately serving as Creative Director of the “Ask Me a Question” project. Annie is part of the MADE VISIBLE Foundation team which worked on this project. Through this video project the stories of five different people who were/are patients is told. The videos are designed to be an interactive teaching tool for students and physicians to learn firsthand about the patient experience. The ultimate goal…make patients more visible. What is even more exciting about the project is that two of the individuals interviewed are part of the Disruptive Women network. The first is Amy Berman one of Disruptive Women’s 2015 Women to Watch and the second is a Man of the Month, Matthew Zachary. You can view Amy and Matthew’s videos as well as the other patient’s videos here. This impressive and important project is worth viewing and sharing with colleagues and friends. Way to go Annie!

To see an interview with Annie done by the Gold Foundation’s blog editor Perry Dinardo about this project click here. Medpage Today also ran an article on this fabulous series which you can read here.

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TBT: Mind-Body (in my case Mind-Butt) Connection

Archelle Georgiou, MD

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, so we thought no better way to celebrate than by re-running the post below for TBT.

Colonoscopy…no way, no how, don’t want it, don’t need it. I’d rather have colon cancer. I don’t have any risk factors anyway. Can’t I have a root canal instead?

These are the thoughts that swirled through my head starting at age 49 as I anticipated turning 50 and hitting the magic moment for this right of passage.

But, several months ago, the resistance disappeared. I made the appointment in March and didn’t think about it again until I had to start the prep at 4 pm on the day before my procedure. Drinking 64 oz of Crystal Light with Miralax and 10 ounces of magnesium citrate made me feel like a bloated whale. I was stuck in a bathroom, chilled from the cold liquid, and could only tolerate wearing grey flannel sweats. Nevertheless, I drove to my appointment feeling unstressed and singing Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” song at the top of my lungs. My pressing question was whether there was Wi-Fi in the clinic so that I could work on email while waiting for the procedure to start. (more…)

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