A new branch of a community championing diversity in health technology has launched in Ireland.

One HealthTech, previously known as HealthTech Women UK, brings together those traditionally underrepresented in the field.

At the helm of the new Irish hub are eHealth Ireland’s advisor Maria O’Loughlin and Caredoc’s chief information officer (CIO), Michelle Kearns.

The duo are extremely passionate about the platform which celebrates and promotes the talents and work of women and people from diverse backgrounds in health technology and innovation.

Kearns was first introduced to the community at the 2016 Health Week London through its co-founder Maxine Mackintosh. Along with O’Loughlin, she decided to launch the hub in Dublin following its continued success in the UK.

“They were having a panel discussion about women in technology and in health and how to be innovative… and I just thought this is amazing, we could really do with this in Ireland,” Kearns said.

“They weren’t just only promoting women in technology, they were promoting diversity and at the time were branded as HealthTech Women, but later changed it to OneHealth Tech to be more inclusive.

“They draw so many different people and it’s not just from health backgrounds, it’s IT, clinical and customer service. So I came home to Maria and said; ‘Maria, I’ve got this great idea’.”

She continued: “Too few of the technology roles across the wider health and life science sector are filled by women. This stark under-representation is indicative of the considerable wider diversity gap emerging in what will be a future healthcare system.”

O’Loughlin added that with considerable challenges to be faced by the healthcare sector, “it is essential to highlight and reflect on the need for diverse leadership and its value in providing an effective and equitable health system, increasingly driven by technological innovations.”

The group aims to inspire, support and champion greater inclusivity in the field “because, without ensuring diversity from the board all the way to the frontline, the health tech industry will never reach its full potential,” Kearns said.

“OHT supports its members through education, mentorship, promoting the positive effects of inclusion in technology, encouraging broader participation at meetings and events, championing diversity in leadership and having fun.”

The duo hopes to bring more diversity to industry events, expos and conferences.

“You go to events and conferences and it’s the same people speaking, and we asked ourselves: ‘How can we bring different people into this and make them feel comfortable with it?’” O’Loughlin said.

When they launched the community at the recent eHealth Ireland in Dublin, they were blown away by the diversity of the crowd.

“That’s why OneHealth Tech is so important, because it’s not exclusive to just women, it is for absolutely everyone with similar interests,” O’Loughlin said.

“Our new interim CIO Jane Carolan [at the Health Service Executive] is massively backing the forum in Ireland and pushing digital technology for women – she’s a huge believer in it.

“Don’t feel you have to be involved in health or technology; it is a platform to bring together like-minded people from diverse backgrounds.”

OHT has a membership of more than 5,500 with the largest concentrations being 32% in London, 17% in the North West, 17% in Yorkshire and 10% in the South West.

To learn more about the community or join visit http://onehealthtech.com/

Problems to overcome: (source: OHT)

  • Many individuals are not exposed to the pace, scale and potential impact of the latest innovations in health. There is a need to provide opportunities to upskill, inspire and demystify essential knowledge in health technology.
  • Health is increasingly becoming dependent on technology. The healthcare workforce is overwhelmingly female, yet it is widely acknowledged that women are vastly underrepresented in technology. This has a considerable impact on the effectiveness of health technology solutions.
  • Health technology has a culture problem; the flashy “Silicon Valleyers”, the “archetypal techies” or the senior leadership cliqueThis results in an inaccessible and myopic work environment.