Women in mHealth: the future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades

Angela Dunn

Angela Dunn talks us through three success stories of women in mHealth from her recent interviews with them.

A successful combination: women founders and mHealth

Research suggests that companies led by women are more capital-efficient. In addition, venture-backed companies run by women have 12 percent higher revenue. Add women founders to the exploding mHealth market, expected to grow to $4.6 billion by 2014, and the future is indeed bright for women entrepreneurs in mHealth.

The one quality women entrepreneurs possess

I interviewed several women co-founders for my series on “Women in mHealth” for HL7Standards.com, and found the quality they all had in common was a strong sense of optimism. Women, in general, are more optimistic than men.¹ Healthways Research believes this is the result of women’s close friendships and social networks. In other research, The Hartford insurance company found women business owners to be more confident about their companies than men – 91 percent describe their business as successful, compared with 80 percent of men. This might be in how women owners define success.

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“Women are more likely to start a business because they want to make a difference…”

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Women entrepreneurs want to make a difference

Women are more likely to start a business because they want to make a difference, while men are concerned about potential profits from the get-go.

Here are three women in mHealth who clearly want to make a difference and are leading the way:

1. Rebecca Woodcock, Founder of Cake health

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Figure 1: Rebecca Woodcock, Founder of Cake health

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Named as one of the “15 Women to Watch in Tech” by Inc. Magazine,² Rebecca Woodcock is the founder of Cake Health, a free web and mobile app to manage healthcare expenses. Woodcock came up with the idea for Cake Health after helping a close friend manage epilepsy and track expenses.

“I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I would be a starting a company in the healthcare industry. I was very involved in the start-up world, and I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” says Woodcock.

She says her inspiration came from being a Mint user: “I thought, why doesn’t this exist for the healthcare world? There’s a huge opportunity there.”

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Figure 2: Cake Health – huge shift for the healthcare industry

“I think the healthcare industry is in such a changing environment right now that entrepreneurship is welcomed, and often, encouraged even by the large players, incumbents,” continues Woodcock, going on to say she looks for a “balanced” view from male and female advisors.

Watch this video excerpt on Woodcock’s thoughts on the future in healthcare below or click to read the full interview here.

2. Leslie Ziegler, Co-founder and Creative Director of Rock health

Figure 3: Leslie Ziegler, Co-founder and Creative Director of Rock health

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Rock Health is the first seed accelerator for digital health startups with two female co-founders, Leslie Ziegler and CEO Halle Tecco. Like many health entrepreneurs who are motivated by personal experience, Ziegler’s interest came after a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. She is tracking behaviors in hopes that the quantified data will paint a bigger picture and improve the future. Ziegler recently declared 2012 her year of Quantified Self. “After several well-intentioned, but poorly executed attempts to understand my food intake, sleep, exercise, etc., I’m committing to a steady diet of apps, devices, scales, wristbands, tests and tools for the year.”

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“Like many health entrepreneurs who are motivated by personal experience, Ziegler’s interest came after a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis.”

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This passion inspires her work at Rock Health where being around entrepreneurs on a daily basis in an incubator “is incredibly inspiring.” And Ziegler’s optimism is infectious. Her advice to startups is to prepare for a lots of noes, “There a lot of folks working on great ideas. To break through the noise, you have to be persistent.”

You can read the full interview with Ziegler here.

Ziegler is responsible for the Rock Health website, an amazing source of information for health entrepreneurs. The Resources section includes a Startup Handbook and the new video series, “Startup Elements” featuring speakers from the curriculum like Stanford’s BJ Fogg in the video below.

 3. Jennifer Dyer MD, Physician and Tech Entrepreneur, Endogoddess app

Jennifer-Dyer-figure-4Figure 4: Jennifer Dyer MD, Physician and Tech Entrepreneur, Endogoddess app

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Jennifer Dyer MD is a physician who follows BJ Fogg’s behavior change model in developing her apps. Her Endogoddess Diabetes App is featured at the second annual “Doctors 2.0 and You” conference in Paris recently.

Figure 5: Endogoddess Diabetes app

Dyer left her successful medical practice to focus on being a tech entrepreneur. She believes there is a need for better pediatric apps and is currently developing the Endogoddess Kids app as part of the Duet Health team by eProximiti.

Although these women do not find many other women in the field, “It is merely an observation, not a barrier,” says Dyer. She adds, “What we do need are more women mentors.” Aspiring health technologists can learn from these three.

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”

Helen Keller

References

1. http://ct.counseling.org/2011/10/strength-in-numbers-women-are-more-optimistic-than-men-because-of-their-close-friendships/

2. http://www.inc.com/ss/christina-desmarais/15-women-watch-tech-startups.html%2311

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About the author:

Angela Dunn is a Content Strategist and Professional Healthcare Blogger. She writes monthly on mHealth, trends and health innovation for HL7standards.com. She is also Senior Consultant for Symplur, where she provides social media training, curation expertise and blogging services for medical professionals and healthcare conferences.

Dunn provides foresight research as a contract analyst forecasting trends in social, mobile and digital technologies. She has written foresight reports in the pharmaceutical industry for Manhattan Research and FirstWord. A global speaker, Dunn’s presentations include: “Netting Digital Thought Leadership”, “Content Curation”, and “Networks and Real Influence”.

You can connect with Dunn on LinkedIn, Twitter or via Google+.

Do you find that women possess more optimism than men?

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