2018 Medical Innovation Summit: Memorable Moments from the Startup Showcase & Women in Health Tech

The brightest minds in healthcare converged in Cleveland for three days of connecting, strategizing, and disrupting. Cleveland Clinic’s 2018 Medical Innovation Summit (MIS) attracted global thought leaders ready to reimagine healthcare and tackle big issues.
We’re featuring highlights of two events – the Startup Showcase and Women in Health Tech “Brass Tracks” breakout session.

It All Starts with Startups

The summit kicked off with a Startup Showcase powered by Cleveland Clinic, HIMSS, HealthXL, Jumpstart, and Plug and Play – all hosted by HIMSS Innovation & Conference Center with MC Will Morris, Senior Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations.

Among the audience were investors, healthcare leaders, and tech innovators – joined by teams of local high school students who had spent the past month reviewing the startup projects and predicting winners as part of the Cleveland Clinic Civic Education program for K-12 students.

More than 40 startup companies divided up between two venues of simultaneous pitches: a Clinical Services/ Solutions track and a Consumer/Provider Operational track.

Making the Pitch

Timing was tight as each startup was allowed five minutes to pitch concepts.  For three minutes post-pitch, judges from Google Cloud, GE Ventures, Healthbox, Cleveland Clinic and other major players asked probing questions about business plans, markets, financing, operations, and more.

Among 21 pitches on the clinical side, startup concepts such as Augment Therapy’s telerehab system for pediatric physical therapy patients… Blue Mesa Health’s pre-diabetes prevention program for global markets…CenterLine’s “magic goggles” to improve imaging quality in minimally invasive surgeries…and nGageIT’s human breath diagnostics to monitor and improve medication adherence.

In the consumer/provider operational track, 20 pitches ranged from Ryalto’s app to help healthcare workers better manage their work life…to Notes First free medical records system for emerging global markets… the Yosi at-home patient check-in platform to improve patient experience, office workflow and financial results… and the Water.io “internet of packaging” using analytics to measure usage and improve medical non-compliance.

And Winners Are…

Judges selected these winners of the 2018 Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit Startup Showcase:

Clinical Services/Solutions: YouScript, a precision medication management system using analytics to identify patients at risk for adverse drug interaction. 

  • Consumer/Provider Operational: Sana, designers of Sana Relief, a mask developed to help relieve severe chronic nerve pain.
    Listening to Women in Health Tech

Among the Brass Tracks breakouts, this session attracted many women (and a few brave men) to share stories and strategies on the role of women in health tech. In a fireside chat, Cleveland’s WKYC-TV Senior Health Correspondent Monica Robins talked with HIMSS Executive Vice President, Carla Smith.

Smith has been in her leadership role with HIMSS for 17 years. She shared her concern that 79 percent of the 45,000 attendees at HIMSS Global Conference are men. “We need to work collaboratively to expand opportunities for people of color and women to receive education and good paying jobs,” says Smith.

Smith and Robins discussed issues including:

  • Women make 80 percent of healthcare decisions; as key customers, women need to be part of health IT development teams.
  • Women are typically paid less than men; a HIMSS compensation study revealed the pay gap for women in health IT increased from 2006 to 2014 but returned to 2006 levels in 2018.

“Knowledge is power,” Smith told the audience. “Get educated on the facts about compensation. Learn negotiation skills and look at your own organization to make sure pay scales don’t reflect gender or racial disparities.”

Smith urged women to use the power of mentoring to move up the ladder and bring others up as well. She offered a few simple rules on mentoring:

  • Choose a mentor who sees promise in you, has time to focus on you, can be trusted with confidentiality, and is what you aspire to be.  
  • Only say “yes” when asked to be a mentor if you have the time to commit.

Making Business Sense
Three women joined Carla Smith to talk about women’s role in leadership and the impact on the business bottom-line. The panel included Aashima Gupta, Global Head, Healthcare Solutions, Google Cloud Platform, Google, Rhonda Childress, Vice President & IBM Fellow, and Linda McHugh, Chief Human Resources Officer, Cleveland Clinic.

“People look up to the women on the Google leadership team,” says Gupta. “Diversity is a huge thread in our company, but we need to do more. It should be a personal goal, not just a company goal. If we don’t have a female talent pipeline, let’s build one! Each of us has that responsibility.”

The panel acknowledged the qualities and value women often bring to business and healthcare decisions, including attention to details and empathy that allows for seeing situations from another person’s viewpoint. They agreed this is critical when developing new applications, since understanding the user is key.

Smith recalled a time when a man asked her about women’s role in the tech industry, saying “Why do you people keep trying to carve yourselves out?” Smith encouraged women to not shame those who ask this -- but to embrace the question and use it as an opportunity to say, “I’m really glad you asked me that,” and to provide research on the value of women in leadership in healthcare.

#MeToo in Healthcare IT

With sexual harassment in the news and the workplace, it was on the table for discussion. Smith acknowledged the upsides of the “Me Too” movement for healing and discussing positive responsibilities. “In a male-dominated industry, we need to keep it from becoming male versus female. We need to talk about how to navigate this.”

Linda McHugh of Cleveland Clinic Human Resources said the organization has a zero-tolerance policy – and acts on it. “We have mandatory training and we track and investigate every allegation. In 2018, we saw 212 cases and terminated 23 employees. We need to respect each other. If not, there are consequences.”

Rhonda Childress pointed out that IBM has always had a zero-tolerance policy -- but she herself needed to become aware of her own behaviors. “I’m a hugger. It could be considered harassment to some. We need to look at it from both sides of the fence. We need to respect every individual.”

Diversity & Inclusion: Why It Matters

The session closed with a panel led by Jessica Zeaske, Director of Healthcare Investments, GE Ventures. She was joined by Christina Caraballo, Director of Audacious Inquiry, Molly McCarthy, National Director, US Provider Industry, CNO, Microsoft, and Mona Siddiqui, MD, Chief Data Officer, Immediate Office of the Secretary, HHS.

Listing the diversity “boxes” they check off, Caraballo described herself not only as a woman, but a mother who feels empowered by talking about her role as mom by working hard in her business. Siddiqui described herself as “boxless,” never thinking of herself as the “woman in the room,” due to the way her parents raised her.

Discussing what they look for in diversity, Zeaske of GE Ventures said, “Generational diversity. When you’re looking for a geriatrics app developer, do we want all 28-year-olds? We need to hear from different generations.”

At Microsoft, McCarthy is inspired to focus on people with “different abilities” influencing how we create products in the future, including those with autism, the deaf, and vision impaired. With a perspective at the federal government level, Siddiqui emphasized the value of including people with a range of perspectives. “In the policy space, we often see the same group of people with similar experiences. If all of us come from Harvard, we need to expand that.”

Asked about the most telling statistics on diversity, the panel cited:

  • Among Fortune 500 CEOs, only 24 are women
  • Men now represent about 14 percent of all nurses, but average salary for male nurses is $72K while female nurses average $64K
  • Siddiqui observed that “women get promoted on performance, while men get promoted based on potential.” McCarthy commented on new female leadership at Microsoft creating a culture of empathy and a more collaborative environment, while Caraballo noted buzzwords that have evolved from diversity to inclusion to belonging. She stressed the need to “not just fit in but bring something different and make our company better.”

Panelists closed with their best advice for women in health tech:

Mona Siddiqui: “Stretch yourself. Say ‘yes’ early in your career to build your base. Opportunity comes in unexpected ways.”

Christina Caraballo: “Be weird. Say what you’re thinking – not what others expect you to say.”

Jessica Zeaske: “Ask the question, even if you think it’s stupid. Most others have the same question.”

Molly McCarthy: “You can’t get what you don’t ask for. Be curious. Be passionate about learning more about health IT.”