EP: 169 The Advancement Of Medical Care: Women’s Important Role In Healthcare With Carolyn Ward

Brave Women at Work | Brave Women at Work| Advancement Of Medical Care

 

According to a 2022 article in Psychology Today, “80% of women in the U.S. are responsible for household healthcare decisions.” Today’s guest tries to make the medical community’s job easier by centralizing patient data. Carolyn Ward, Director of Clinical Strategy at Particle Health, shares the important role of women in the advancement of medical care, breaking down barriers in the medical system and fostering innovation. With over eight years of experience in healthcare, Carolyn talks about how patient data will create better medical outcomes. Tune in to this episode and be an advocate for yourself in medical situations. Join Carolyn Ward and be inspired by her journey.

During my chat with Carolyn, we discussed:

  • Carolyn’s career path and how it led to her work at Particle Health.
  • Why women will have an important role to play in breaking down barriers in the medical system and fostering innovation.
  • How women can best advocate for themselves in medical situations
  • Why Carolyn is so passionate about patient data and how it will help create better medical outcomes.
  • Carolyn’s perspective on traditional medicine vs. holistic & functional medicine related to medical data and patient care.
  • Why understanding what is happening in this field is important for working women today.

Listen to the podcast here

 

The Advancement Of Medical Care: Women’s Important Role In Healthcare With Carolyn Ward

I’m glad you’re here. How are you doing out there? It’s been a while since I’ve given you all a mystique as a household update, but here it is, an update from me personally on the personal front. It’s been a crazy start to the year, everyone. I’m not kidding. This isn’t hyperbole. It has been a crazy start. My question to you is, has your started out like it was shot out of a cannon? My year certainly has.

My husband has made multiple trips to be with family due to some health issues that have cropped up for family members and about with COVID rolling around our house. We went to my daughter Charlotte’s Poms competition for the state. We did not get to national. We got to state, which was amazing and a great first experience for her. With all of that, in the first several weeks of the year, it’s been a lot.

I like to see the sunny side of things. Even in busy seasons, there are positives. The positives are we’ve shown that we can juggle a lot going on in this season. My husband and I have worked well together on scheduling. The kids are thriving. Business and work are thriving. It’s all good. It’s been a rollercoaster these first several weeks as I’m recording this show in 2024.

It’s a great news. We’re almost on the other side of this busy season. We’re looking forward to a week off here in March 2024. That will be wonderful. I’m also purposely scheduling a few weekends here and there with nothing to do. We can have downtime. I don’t know about you, but that is something I look forward to, and I need to physically unplug life and hang out with the family again.

What about you? How’s everything been going for you? I would love to touch base with this community and build a relationship with you. Feel free to send me a DM on social media or email me at Hello@BraveWomenAtWork.com. Things that you may want to share are one of the shows like this show, and my story here and the start of my year resonates with you. Let me know. If you have an idea for a topic for the show that you would feel would support you and this community in 2024, let me know. I am always listening.

Let’s pivot to an interesting statistic to talk about our topic, which is women advocating for themselves medically and changing the face of healthcare as we know it in the future. Here’s that interesting statistic. According to a 2022 article in Psychology Today, 80% of women in the US are responsible for household healthcare decisions. I didn’t do all of the research on what that might look like for an international statistic. I’m confident that this statistic holds true for women across the globe.

If 80% of us are making these decisions, what are we doing? We may be responsible for scheduling doctor’s appointments, taking kids to these appointments, interpreting medical test results or estimation of benefits for insurance, seeking second opinions, picking up prescriptions, and making sure that people get immunizations or any testing required for schools and the list goes on.

My guest, Carolyn Ward, is trying to make our jobs and the entire medical community’s jobs easier by centralizing patient data. Roll with me here and imagine this. Instead of going to a doctor, let’s say you’re going to a new doctor, and you have to fill out all of these medical forms, where there’s this huge packet of medical information you have to fill out. If you go to a different specialist or a different doctor, you have to start all over again. Your data is completely siloed from one doctor to another.

It’s infuriating because if you go and say, “I’ve got shoulder pain.” You might go to some orthopedic doctor. You give all the information there. If you’re going for your physical, you may go to an internist or a general practitioner doctor, and you’ll give information there. What if we did this instead? What if our data was all in one place, medically, it was secure, and it was usable for all of your medical team to make the best prescriptive recommendations for you and your family?

That means no more forms or limited forms. That means that people would be working cross-functionally. They’d be working like we do in corporate. We work from department to department for projects. What if one medical discipline works with another so that they can all be talking together? Sign me up if I don’t have to fill out another medical form again or less frequently. It would save me some time in my life. It would make it easier. It would make it easier for the medical community.

During my chat with Carolyn, we discussed her path in her career, how it led to her work at Particle Health, why women play such an important role in breaking down barriers in the medical system and fostering future innovation, how women best can advocate for ourselves in medical situations, such as having an appointment with a doctor, advocating for ourselves and our needs, our family’s needs, and not being explained away when we may say, “Can we try this? Can we do this?” Learning how to advocate for ourselves is critical in this area.

Why Carolyn is passionate about patient data and how it will help create better medical outcomes. Her perspective on traditional medicine versus holistic and functional medicine related to medical data and patient care. Why understanding all of this and what’s happening in this field is important for working women now.

Here is more about Carolyn. She is a dynamic and driven internal medicine physician with a passion for physician and patient empowerment and data-driven decision-making. With several years of experience in healthcare, including as Chief Resident at Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, she has established herself as a leader in her field. As a Director of Clinical Strategy at Particle Health, Carolyn has taken her experience to the next level. She is responsible for developing the clinical product roadmap for particle health, ensuring that patients are represented throughout the research and development processes.

Carolyn’s mission is to enable simple and secure access to actionable patient data. She believes the health data system must be more cohesive to prevent digital friction and to promote positive patient outcomes. In her free time, Carolyn enjoys reading and spending time with her two little boys. If she wasn’t in healthcare, Carolyn would be in the ed tech space, focusing on early education.

Before we get started, if you’re enjoying Brave Women at Work, please make sure to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. If the show has made an impact on you, please make sure to share it with a friend, a family member, or a colleague. Your rating and review help the show continue to gain traction and grow. If you’ve already done that and taken a moment to leave me a rating and review, I appreciate it. I look at those. I take those into consideration as I build future content. Thank you so much.

If you haven’t yet downloaded one of my freebies from my website, check them out at BraveWomenAtWork.com. I have created three for you. The first one is 24 Career and Leadership Affirmations. The second one is 5 Ways to Manage Your Imposter Syndrome. The one I’m seeing most popular and people are downloading is Get Paid: 10 Negotiation Tips. Each of these freebies is a workbook-style guide. You can complete them on your own time whenever you want to, and they’re free. Go to BraveWomenAtWork.com to learn more. Let’s welcome Carolyn to the show.

 

Brave Women at Work | Brave Women at Work| Advancement Of Medical Care

 

Carolyn, welcome to the show. How are you?

I’m good. Happy to be here.

I’m happy to have you. Why don’t you jump in and tell us about you and how you’ve gotten to where you are?

I am an internal medicine physician. I started all of my medical training in New Jersey. As I was coming out of training, I was thinking about the company I would want to work at. I ended up with a health tech startup called Forward and enjoyed my time there quite a bit. One of the main reasons I had joined was because I wanted the ability to practice primary care and preventative medicine in a space where I felt I could take time with my patients, understand them, and work on a lot of the preventive medicine aspect of focusing on nutrition, exercise and going back to basics with them.

Working at a startup, you also get to wear a lot of different hats. During my time there, I was able to work with hardware engineers, software engineers, PMs, UI, and UX designers, and I stood out in some of their digital health apps and health programs. I was able to work a lot on the product side. That’s when I realized, “That’s what I want to do full-time.”

One thing that I always helped us with is that in order to be great at something, you have to love it. While I liked practicing medicine and I was good at it, I didn’t love it. I wanted to take some time to be intentional about where I wanted my career to go, how I wanted to think about it, what I would achieve in the next several years, and what that would look like. What are the skills I would need to learn to get myself there? That’s how I ended up at Particle Health, where I’m now the Director of Clinical Strategy. I get to work on the product full-time and interface with all aspects of the organization, from sales to marketing to market actions, commercialization, and the actual product development cycle.

Tell us more about your work at Particle Health. What do you hope to achieve in this role?

About Particle Health

At Particle Health, what I work on is the clinical strategy of our products. When you think about the full product development cycle all the way from market mapping and understanding where the opportunity lies to what products would fit in those spaces, what are the cases and actual development of the data products themselves and working healthy in clinical data within our platform, that’s responsible for. I work heavily with our product team, but I also get to do a lot of fun things.

The product marketing reports to me. We get to work on the website and sales enablement material. I’m also the subject matter expert on sales calls. I get pulled in a lot of different directions. That is what I love about working in a small space that’s fast-paced and wears a lot of hats atmosphere. That’s what I was looking for. I do feel like that’s been a great fit here.

What I’m hoping to achieve in this role is to bring that clinical expertise of having worked in both the inpatient and outpatient setting in academic hospitals as well as at a health tech startup to Particle to be able to help inform what are the big problems that we need to solve with clinical data in this space. One thing that I talk a lot about is the fact that when you go to a doctor for the first time, you end up in a waiting room where you have to fill out fifteen pieces of paper. They expect you to remember every single thing that has ever happened to you, every medication you’ve been on their dose, while you’re on the medication, who you have seen, where you have seen them, what surgeries you have had, what have you been diagnosed with?

It’s crazy that we put that onus on patients to be the vehicle of transport for their own medical data. The problem we’re trying to solve in Particle is how we make our clinical data accessible as we move across the country. I’m originally from New Jersey. I’m now located out in California. As we go from one healthcare facility to another, how do we make sure that that data is traveling with you and that your new providers have access to all the healthcare data you have generated throughout the ecosystem so that they can have a clear and comprehensive picture of who you are? When they go and make those treatment decisions, they know that they’re making the best possible one.

I’m used to filling out and doing all the forms over and over again. This whole work you’re doing will help that travel with you whether you’re going from one provider to the next. Is that what I’m understanding?

What the platform does is allow healthcare providers to query the national networks and say, “I have a patient coming in. Her name is Carolyn Ward. I don’t know anything about her. Let me go ahead and search across the nation for any healthcare data that Carolyn may have generated. What Particle does is we pull data into one package. We create a longitudinal history.

They would be able to see my OB-GYN records from New Jersey or my previous primary care records all in one place. Any new provider I go with, when they pull that data down, they can have an understanding of my most recent labs, pregnancies, and any hospitalizations I’ve had. They can have a clear understanding of what care I had and what has happened to me instead of me having to go in and verbally recount my entire life story.

I like that from a time-saving. It’s hard, in a way. It’s stressful to relive your medical history, like if you had surgeries or you have any issues every time you go to a new provider. I like that. Do you think that we might have pushback where people will be like Big Brother or privacy? Do you think that there might be any concerns there?

Healthcare data is arguably the most sensitive type of data that we generate. There are a ton of regulations around this data. One of the things that we often come up against is we primarily operate for the treatment purpose of use. This means no random joke show can request your personal healthcare data. It has to be a provider who has a treatment relationship with you. They’re actively going to be seeing you and taking care of you. Therefore, they have the right to have that clinical context as opposed to any other random company that wants access for the sake of reselling your data.

Healthcare data is arguably the most sensitive type of data that we generate. There are a ton of regulations around this data. Share on X

This is a big part of a conversation in the industry, especially with a lot of the AI solutions that are coming out that sit on top of this clinical data is, who has the data rights and how are we making sure we are protecting the privacy of our customers and their patients? At Particle, data security is a huge thing that we focus on because we want to make sure we are only passing the right pieces of data to the right person and nobody else is getting their hands on this data that shouldn’t.

The Role Of AI In The Medical System

That makes me feel better. Everybody reading should make you feel better, too. Let’s backtrack into this whole AI. ChatGPT and artificial intelligence are evolving every second. It’s the new thing on the scene. It’s newer to me. Give us more detail on what role you think AI is going to play in driving our medical system forward in the future.

It’s going to play a wide variety of roles. Our healthcare system has a lot of problems in multiple sectors. A lot of where we’re seeing technology lean in in the last few years is around financial tech or FinTech, making pricing, paying, and billing more transparent in the healthcare system, which is also a huge problem.

We’re also seeing AI come in a lot in the last few years on the operational side, scheduling issues, note-taking, driving efficiency within the healthcare system, and care creation. They are making sure that people are getting the right resources and the care they have been prescribed. That is where we’re seeing a lot of that AI fall.

There’s also another interesting area that I’m hopeful about in terms of how AI will help us in healthcare, which is personalized medicine. A big place we see is oncology and the genomic space where you get to see we run some lab or genetic testing on you. We use AI and these different algorithms to match you to a particular treatment, a disease, or a risk category where we say, “Because of the data that we are seeing, we think that you should be taking medication A instead of medication B. We think it’s more likely you have diagnosis A versus diagnosis B.”

That’s big now in the cancer space and the rare disease space. What I would love to see is this get pulled all the way through into primary care. I’ll give you an example of what I mean by that. If a patient comes in to see me and says, “I have this family history of heart attacks. I’m overweight. I want to lose weight.” We know that being overweight with certain risk factors is not going to be good for you. It puts you personally at risk for having a lot of bad outcomes down the road, whether that’s diabetes and the complications that come with that or heart disease, heart attacks, or stroke, things like that.

When I go to treat, we always say, “We want to start with diet and exercise.” What does that mean for that individual? What individuals want to know is, “How do you personalize this to me? What am I specifically supposed to be eating? What exercise am I supposed to be doing?” There isn’t a ton of that on that. We give some generic answers about what people should be doing.

We’re seeing a big push in the industry with a lot of functional medicine companies and holistic medicine companies that customers or patients are craving that personalized touch. They’re like, “I don’t want to hear generically you want me to diet and exercise, but specifically, what does that mean for me as an individual, and how might that differ from me compared to the person sitting next to me?” That personalized medicine and using AI to look at patterns and reckon patterns within large data sets will help us to inform those clinical guidelines.

Brave Women at Work | Brave Women at Work| Advancement Of Medical Care
Advancement Of Medical Care: Customers and patients are really craving that personalized touch. Personalized medicine and using AI to look at patterns and recognize patterns within large data sets will help us inform the kind of clinical guidelines.

 

This is fascinating because, with AI, they’ll say when you go to the store in the future, and they’re what’s already happening now, like when you go to Amazon, and you search, they know what your behavior is. They start customizing recommendations for you. In the future, you’ll go to a store, and they’ll be like, “We know that you looked at this. This is what you need to wear based on your body type or body shape.”

I’ve never thought of it. You’re saying my husband got this, and I’ve gotten it, too. You need to move your body more. You need to eat less. Thank you so much. I knew that. You’re saying, “No, you need to do this type of exercise or diet.” It makes it more palatable for people because when you get those, I don’t want to say platitudes, but in a way, this is what you tell everybody. People don’t pay attention because it’s overwhelming, or they’re like, “They tell everybody this.”

We have personalization in our world through Amazon or Netflix recommendations. Why can’t we get that in healthcare? That’s the most important place you would want personalized recommendations.

Women’s Role In Breaking The Barriers

This is exciting. It’s no wonder you’re excited about the work that you do. I want to tie this into the women. What role do you see women are going to play in breaking down any barriers in healthcare? You’ve talked already and uncovered. We know that in the US, there are problems in healthcare. How can we break down these barriers in healthcare and drive more innovation as we move forward?

Women have a huge role to play. We are 50% of the population. The more smart minds we can get in the room to solve these hard, complex problems, the better. One thing that I’ve noticed is that a lot of these problems have been in existence for a long time. There is a little bit of a mindset in the industry that this may be an unsolvable problem. The people who step up and say, “Yes, we can solve this problem,” are people who are going to come up with a solution.

Women have a huge role to play. Women are 50% of the population. The more smart minds we can get in the room to solve complex problems, the better. Share on X

I would push women who are in the force, who are in health tech, and who are in healthcare to step up and say, “Let me think about which are these problems that I’m seeing right now in my sector of this industry and drive towards solutions.” Women in the workforce have to speak up extra loud to be heard. When you are looking for a new position at a different company or even to grow in a position in a current company, women often have to prove that they’ve done something or had an experience or achieved something before they can move up, whereas a lot of men get hired or promoted based on their potential.

Something I talk a lot about is being able to display or articulate your transferable skills. Maybe you are working in a specific sector or project or not work-related, but you do have specific skills. As women, we need to be louder and more articulate about displaying those skills and how we believe that those skills can be transferable to other projects or industries.

An example I’ll give about it is I experience this a lot in my current work because I moved from practicing medicine at the bedside to a completely product-facing role at a tech company, which is extremely different. There’s a ton of crossover. I talk a lot about how to go and speak to a patient. They tell me about some symptoms they have. I’m having this conversation trying to drive to what exactly is going on with them and what the problem I’m trying to solve here is.

A lot of times, they’re talking to me about their cats. They have to go home and feed their cat. They’re worried about this. I’m like, “Why are you telling me this?” In my time as a physician, I realized that sometimes, that person is telling you about their cat because they’re trying to tell you that they’re worried that they’re not going to be home to feed their cat. There’s something seriously wrong with them. You know they’re coming in with a cough.

In conversation, you realize, “They’re worried they have lung cancer.” That’s the real psychological thing that they’re coming in for that you need to address. Unless you have those conversations, you’ll never get to that. That patient is going to leave feeling unsatisfied and unheard. Those are the same skills that I use when I’m on sales calls.

One of the changes I would like to see in our system is that it sometimes feels like you’re on a conveyor belt when you go to certain doctors, and there’s that lack of connection. They’re not there to listen. It’s more prescriptive, like, “This is what you got. This is what you need to take.” They don’t ask you or listen to those cues that you mentioned.

That’s a consequence of a lot of different issues within the healthcare system. Women, as patients, to flip to that side, we also have to be advocates for what we are feeling and thinking and making sure that those issues are coming to the forefront. It’s almost the same skill. It’s applied in a different setting, especially in the workforce.

Being able to tell people like, “I can do this thing because I have experience here. It’s not the same experience. If I had that experience, I would already be doing that job. I believe that this skill is transferable because this is how I would apply it in a new setting.” I’ve found that women need to have the ability to distinctly articulate that in order for that to come through. Whereas I suspect men, that’s not always the case because people are able to see their potential for whatever reason. For women, we need to be able to prove it.

You mentioned people in different healthcare sectors. I was doing some other work for Brave Women at Work. I was listening, and the stats are all over the place, but they say that women are the primary decision-makers for purchase and healthcare decisions. What about those of us who are not in healthcare? I’m not in healthcare, but I have a huge influence on what’s going on in my family’s health. Do you think that women who aren’t in the healthcare sector play any role in helping this whole situation improve?

Advocate For Yourself In Medical Situation

Yes, this is a huge point, especially for the direct-to-consumer companies. Who are those customers? Almost always, women are in charge of making sure that they themselves, their husbands, and their kids are going to the dentist and doctor and taking medications that have been prescribed. That’s an interesting thought because, a lot of the time, women are the ones who have a lot of influence in where they want to bring their kids or their families to interact with a healthcare system.

Brave Women at Work | Brave Women at Work| Advancement Of Medical Care
Advancement Of Medical Care: Women are the ones who have a lot of influence in where they want to bring their kids or their families to interact with a healthcare system.

 

This is also true for a lot of other things like groceries and consumer goods, but at this point, a consumer good in a lot of areas. When we think about their role there, they are a large part of that market. Advocating for what the needs are is a strong and great way to push companies to meet those needs. In the direct-to-consumer market, it’s all about supply and demand. When new needs are uncovered, companies will come and fill in that space. If we don’t articulate those needs, this is a big problem.

A lot of times, what ends up happening is we try to meet that ourselves as individuals. We’re like, “Let me hack together this Band-Aid solution. It’s hard to get healthcare access in X, Y, and Z away, but I’m going to make it work.” Those are all problems that are not happening to you but are happening to women across the entire United States. As we demand more, companies will come in and fill that need because there is a business opportunity there for them. It becomes this beneficial feedback cycle. As consumers, we get input into the type of goods that we want to consume. That drives better goods over time.

Let’s break this down because I like to make things actionable for my readers. When we say advocating for ourselves, that’s a big topic. If you could think of a doctor, medical goods, or service devices, what would be the first step that you would recommend? This is a way that they could advocate for themselves and their families to feel empowered with their healthcare.

My recommendation would be to start the upfront conversation with what you want to get out of the conversation, which is interesting because that’s also how I start all of my business meetings now. When you go into a physician, or you’re going into the doctor, there is some unspoken question we’re trying to answer.

What I interpret that question to be is, is this thing dangerous, yes or no? When I take my child into urgent care, or they’re sick, and they’re going to their primary care, their pediatrician, I explain everything that’s happened. The doctor’s asking me a bunch of questions about symptoms and how they are feeling. I’m there because I want to know if this thing is dangerous, yes or no. Number two, is there anything I have to do about this, yes or no?

Being upfront and saying, “This is what I need to happen as an outcome of this encounter,” is one good to articulate for you as an individual because you’ll get a better sense of how you want to drive that conversation to make sure your needs are met before that physician leaves after fifteen minutes in that office room with you. It also makes it clear where your priorities are to the person on the other side. They can make sure that they’re driving the conversation to answer the questions that you came in with.

You come in, “What’s my game plan?” You’re articulate in, “This is what I would like to get out of this appointment.” Rather than, “I’m going to make fun here.” I am stereotyping, but we all do this. Sometimes, Carolyn, I get white coat hypertension. I come in and get this God complex with the doctor in front of me. I’m all mystified, and I forget.

We make fun because we think a lot of our spouses, especially on the male side, “Here’s where my stereotype is.” I’ll ask my husband, “Did you ask these questions?” He is like, “No, everything was fine.” I’m like, “We spent money on this. We submitted through insurance, and we didn’t get it.” I know this has happened to me when I get mystified in front of a doctor, I get tongue-tied, or I feel like I don’t know. The doctor leads that whole interaction for fifteen minutes rather than having it be an interactive interaction where you feel satisfied at the end of that appointment.

With all of this data, I wanted to ask you, and this is veering off slightly, but I am a believer in both Western and Eastern medicine. I’m curious about this. With this personalized healthcare journey, it seems like the medical community or you’re trying to get us on that train with your work. Let’s say I come in, and they’re like, “Based on your labs, this is diet and exercise we should be doing.”

Do you think they’ll also incorporate some of the holistic solutions? Do you think that is still going to lag? I know that most doctors will prescribe a prescription like a drug of some sort. What about vitamin supplementation? What about all those other things so I don’t have to go to primary care and functional medicine to feel like my health is completely taken care of?

If you think about where we stand a lot with functional medicine, a lot of physicians don’t feel comfortable making those recommendations because there isn’t strong evidence. That’s because in the United States, for the most part, a lot of evidence that is generated around treatments are studies or trials that have been conducted by pharma companies. They’re the ones who make a lot of the treatments.

Pharma companies are not incentivized to run treatment studies on things that they don’t make or things that occur because there’s no business case there. These studies are expensive. They span a long period of time. You need to enroll a lot of people across a lot of sites. To get a good outcome where you can understand, “Take this particular dose of vitamin D, benefit me in X, Y, and Z ways,” You need to spend a lot of money to track those outcomes. In the United States, who is going to pay for that study? We don’t have a lot of it.

This is general across all sorts of different holistic treatments. A lot of the stuff that comes from the holistic side comes from Eastern medicine or anecdotal evidence. A lot of these AI-driven personalized medicine studies are likely to come up from the ability to aggregate large data sets and, therefore, run studies and training algorithms on top of them. That will help us to drive to a place where we can have a better understanding of an individual’s vitamin level.

That’s a fantastic example. When you look at what is “normal” for vitamin levels, it’s a wide range. That’s because when we have a medical society, we have to find “normal,” which means that if you are in this range, nothing bad has happened to you. If you fall drastically outside of this range, we have seen that some bad things may happen.

A lot of times, people go to functional medicine doctors. That’s not the question they’re trying to answer. They’re trying to answer how I optimize my healthcare. Not how do I progress something super terrible from happening to me? That shift in mindset from the consumer side and the patient side is going to drive a lot of cool innovations in the healthcare space.

The shift in mindset from the consumer and the patient side will drive a lot of really cool innovations in the healthcare space. Share on X

They are both from the consumer, the actual provider side and the organizational side. There is a shift away from letting me react to something bad that has happened to try to patch up some holes here to how we prevent those things from happening. I feel like that fits well with the people who are saying, “I want to optimize my healthcare.” I don’t want to say, “Yes, my vitamin A is in a normal range, but what’s the best number I could achieve?” We don’t have data for that. That’s why working on this clinical data problem is important.

I’m on your side. I’m with Particle Health. This work is important because I’m sitting there thinking. When people are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, and I have someone in my family that was diagnosed with that, I was like, “I’m upset to hear that.” There’s been a couple of runs in my family. Knowing that, how do we avoid even getting there? We all know that we’re eventually going to pass on. I’m not trying to say live forever but optimize our health in our years. Is there anything that we could do to prevent that before the wheels fall off the bus?

When you pull this all the way through, what will likely happen is what we consider to be healthcare data in the future is going to be probably different. It’s going to be where do you shop, where do you eat, where do you live, do you sedentary job? All of those data points matter when it comes to your health. They aren’t taken much into account in the healthcare system. We’re trying to see even a little bit more of a push there with wearable devices, your Fitbit, your Apple watch, your CGMs, your continuous glucose monitors. People are trying to say, “I want to gather data about my body so I can understand when trends are changing.” I’m excited to see all this come together.

This is such a big topic. I could talk to you for a long time about it. I want to make this actionable. We know it is important for all women to read because we’re making the decisions for a lot of the healthcare, the purchase, the buying decisions for our families and ourselves. We are the ones that are nagging and following up like, “Did you go to the dentist? Did you go to the doctor? What’s the prognosis?” What do we do with this information from here?

We’ve given them some feedback on what they can do at the doctor’s office, which is awesome. If someone is reading, going, “This is my jam.” Whether they’re in the medical field or not, are there any resources or any other next steps where you’re like, “This is what you can do to help this cause moving forward?”

It depends on where they land and how much they want their voice to be heard. There are a ton of different ways. One way that I have enjoyed is joining an industry-related work community. It’s not like your company’s Slack channel. Whether it’s in your industry that’s outside of healthcare or within healthcare, there’s a ton of different groups that come together to brainstorm. You talk together in a pretty casual setting to say, “These are the problems I’m seeing. What companies do you guys know of that solve this problem?”

Every now and then, what you find is there are some problems that there are no companies working on. That’s where I would love to see more people lean in and say, “I’m going to solve that problem.” I’m not a doctor or a healthcare provider. I don’t work in the healthcare sector, but in my daily experience interacting with healthcare, this is a problem. Being able to enter into those forums and voice those issues as pain points of consumers is helpful for the industry and people who are in the industry to say, “That is a job to be done that has not been solved. Let me go and solve that problem.”

That’s a good recommendation. I don’t know if you are at liberty to share, but someone would say, “Where do I find these forums?” Are there certain websites or places that they would go and search for this information?”

One place that I like is called Health Tech Nerds. That’s a specific health tech community. People of all parts of that community come together and do what we say. They share knowledge and brainstorm. I found it to be fruitful. The other thing that is interesting is learning about what’s happening in the industry, which can be enlightening and fun. There are a ton of different podcasts that I listen to to stay up to date on what people are doing, what they’re interested in, where AI is going, or new use cases.

We’re not affiliated with the other podcasts, but can you share like one or two that you enjoy that might be a good place for people to start?

One that I like a lot is called Vital Signs. It’s on Spotify. It’s an interview-style podcast. They interview leaders from all parts of the healthcare system. A lot of it is digital health companies because a lot of those are driving innovations. They talk about a lot of interesting topics. One in particular that I like a lot and that I feel like they do focus on is innovation in care delivery. Instead of the traditional, you have your primary care office and your hospital. There are a lot of different ways in which care is delivered now virtually, including telehealth and apps. They walk through a lot of those examples. That’s been an interesting listen.

Two Ways To Become A Brave Woman

What are 1 to 2 ways that you believe women can be braver at work?

Number one is a little bit inward at first, which is being intentional with yourself about what it is that you will find fulfilling. Is there something that you want to achieve? Is there a position you want to get to? Is there a certain type of work that you want to be doing? If that’s not what you’re doing now, how are you going to reach to get there?

Along my career, I have always tried to be intentional about what work I take on, what I say no to, what company I want to join next, and what my next role ideally would look like. That’s helped me to better understand myself, first and foremost, what I find fulfilling and worldly. I can project that outwardly, go and look for an opportunity that matches that. Until you have a clear understanding of what you want, you’re groping in the sand a little bit, and it’s hard to understand what the optimal place or company for you is.

The second thing is more external. It is making sure that your voice is heard. Sometimes, for myself, it can be an uncomfortable experience when I’m inviting somebody to ask for my opinion or I’m not sure I want to step on any toes. It seems a little bit crazy where I’m coming from because I am the expert and clinical voice for the entire company. I should be free and open to say what my opinion is on something or give my expertise on something.

I also find myself holding back, being like, “Are they going to feel like I’m too aggressive? Am I going to come off as bullying somebody or bullying my opinion over their opinion? That’s their area of ownership.” A lot of women will hold themselves back because of that. I would encourage people. When you start to feel that way, take a step back and say, “Is what I’m saying valuable? Is it going to be valuable for that other person to hear it?” Reframe it as, “Is it right for me to keep that to myself if it is valuable to them?” As opposed to saying, “Am I going to get in trouble for sharing this?”

Both of these are great. Giving yourself the grace and the gift of being still to be clear, I don’t think that we do enough of it. We’re reactionary. We go and do. It’s groping at the sand or a water jug being forward in your hand. You’re trying to grasp the water, and that’s impossible. I love the idea of being still and clear. How can women find you and Particle Health? I don’t know if there are any other places where you’d like people to connect with you, but share all the things about how they can reach out.

If you’re interested in Particle, check us out at ParticleHealth.com. If you’re interested in connecting with me personally, feel free to DM me on LinkedIn. Feel free to reach out. I’m always happy to chat with readers.

Carolyn, thank you so much for the work you’re doing. I love the passion that comes through in our conversation. It’s valuable because I cannot wait for the day when I get a more personalized healthcare experience. I’m jazzed to see it come together. I know that you guys will make that happen.

That’s a wrap-up of my discussion with Carolyn. I hope you found our conversation both valuable and inspiring. As a reminder, please rate, review, and subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The show is also available on any other platform you enjoy. Until next time, show up, advocate for your health, and be brave.

 

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About Carolyn Ward

Brave Women at Work | Brave Women at Work| Advancement Of Medical CareCarolyn Ward is a dynamic and driven internal medicine physician with a passion for physician and patient empowerment and data-driven decision making. With over eight years of experience in healthcare, including as Chief Resident at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, she has established herself as a leader in the field.
 
As the Director of Clinical Strategy at Particle Health, Carolyn has taken her experience to the next level. She is responsible for developing the clinical product roadmap for Particle Health, ensuring that patients are represented throughout the research and development process.
 
Carolyn’s mission is to enable simple and secure access to actionable patient data. She believes the health data system must be more cohesive to prevent digital friction and to promote positive patient outcomes.
 
In her free time, Carolyn enjoys reading and spending time with her two little boys. If she wasn’t in healthcare, Carolyn would be in the Edtech space focusing on early education.

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