The Future of MedTech Is Female

May 25, 2018 - 6 minutes read

The future of MedTech development determines the future of humanity’s health and well-being. It may sound grandiose, but it’s absolutely true. That’s why it’s so important that we get it right.

In a new article for STAT, health tech pioneer Melissa Burstein discusses the current lack of female leadership in the industry. It’s a problem in need of urgent care. But to treat it, everyone in the health sector needs to understand the situation and why it needs to be addressed right now.

A Mismatch in Ratio

16 years ago, Melissa Burstein co-founded Ra Medical Systems. Located about an hour north of San Diego, the development company specializes in producing cardiovascular and dermatology products. Burstein is Executive Vice President of the company and has witnessed the innovative improvements that biotech has brought to people’s lives over the years.

But she can’t ignore one obvious imperfection of the industry — despite accounting for half of the population and more than half of healthcare consumers, females only comprise about a quarter of leadership roles in health tech. To make this even more imbalanced, women are also usually the main decision-makers in the majority of households when it comes to the topic of health.

MedTech isn’t the first industry where the consumer base doesn’t match up with the leadership ratio. But the effects could have much more dire consequences in this case. Women have a different perspective on healthcare than men. If we’re not leveraging this unique view adequately, the quality of many health products will never be optimal.

It’s not only an issue of quality, however; without women building more health tech organizations, the industry won’t grow as large or fast as it could. As a result, patients, regardless of gender, will lose out on many potential benefits that could come from establishing a more equal environment.

Addressing the Gender Gap

Because Ra Medical Systems had a female and male co-founder, gender equality in terms of accountability, participation, and decision-making has always been of paramount importance. Burstein and her colleagues have employed a few strategies over the years to ensure that the playing field remains leveled.

In order for all voices to be heard, everyone must speak. This means that men and women aren’t only permitted to make equal contributions, they’re expected to. Setting this standard is imperative to catalyzing productive collaboration. Speaking of which, collaboration depends on uniting your employees. A common goal does this by providing common ground. At Ra Medical, every part of the organization is cognizant of the fact that patients’ lives depend on their work. This allows all employees to put differences like gender aside to focus on what really matters — saving lives.

To hold everyone to the same degree of responsibility in pursuing this mission, it’s crucial to be as transparent as possible. This begins at the hiring process. Ra Medical never hires for gender alone. The company takes into account factors like cultural fit and skillset. They also employ both group and individual interviews to provide greater clarity on the candidates and eliminate any biases.

Last but not least, to make your organization flourish, you must give your employees room to grow. Being flexible does wonders for this cause. Allowing your employees to have flexible work schedules means that they can optimize their work as well as their responsibilities towards their families. A work environment that makes you choose between family and work is not a sustainable growth atmosphere, so set your company up for success by giving your employees more freedom.

Equality Requires Effort from Everyone

Burstein attributes much of her success to the nurturing environment in which she developed. Mentors in her life, like parents and teachers, gave her the confidence to believe that she could accomplish anything. This is absolutely integral to giving women the tools they need to innovate.

Companies should take deliberate steps to foster leadership and growth in future leaders, whether they’re female or male. As Burstein puts it, “Success is not created when we silo ourselves in our own organizations. I urge my colleagues to cross-pollinate with executives in other industries, share best practices, reach beyond their comfort zones, and seek out contributions from men and women alike.”

Just as with any investment, it’s necessary for biotech and healthcare companies to diversify. To deliver better healthcare for all, we need to utilize everything and everyone we have. Not only will it result in a better future for all industries involved in health, but it will improve everyone’s lives as well.

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