3 Remarkable women entrepreneurs and how they created digital health empires

Women entrepreneurs in the digital health

Article Highlights

  • Judy Faulkner is the CEO of one of the leading electronic health record keeping technology providers with record revenues.
  • Rebecca Woodcock founded Cake Health which helps in better understanding your health costs, track your deductible and coverage and catch medical overbilling.
  • Ms. Piraye Yurttas founded Celmatix in 2009 which is a personalized medicine company focusing on women’s health and fertility.

Like any other industry, healthcare is also packed with innovative women entrepreneurs who have contributed a lot to the healthcare field. Notable names include Judith Faulkner, Rebecca Woodcock, and Piraye Yurttas Beim. A large number of enterprises owned by female entrepreneurs are in healthcare. Besides their professional lives, they are the key participants in serving as caregivers to their families. This gives them a deep understanding of the pains they will have to take in the process of healthcare. Women entrepreneurs in the digital health sector have been contributing a lot to provide better health care services to the people.

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Judy Faulkner
The CEO and founder of Epic Systems (http://www.epic.com/)

Women entrepreneurs in the digital health

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Judy Faulkner, a computer programmer, founded the Epic Systems in 1979 in Wisconsin. She is the CEO of one of the leading electronic health record keeping technology providers with record revenues.

Faulkner took a modest beginning by starting human service computing in the basement of an apartment after completing a course in medicine on computers that fascinated her too much and began to develop on-call scheduling for physicians on a computer. She was asked by her university to help them keep track of patients’ information over time by building a system. It was her dream to work for her customers. Her company that took a start in a basement is available in different countries including UAE, Netherlands, Australia, and Denmark. Now billions of patients have their information stored with the Epic. Epic employs more than 8,000 people in various spheres of jobs. In 2014 the company’s gross revenue totaled $1.77 billion.

Her success story is unique in the sense that she did not follow anyone’s footsteps. The company follows one philosophy, and that is if you need a thing, buy it but if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. According to Faulkner, her company teaches people the right way to judge things and make correct decisions. Faulkner did not hunt for investors. She instead launched her first company ‘Human Services Computing’ slowly from her funds as well as with those from her parents, family members, and friends.

She does not depend on sales and marketing to help her business grow. Her method is unique that is without wasting time and money on sales she has put her programmers in separate offices for better programming. She has made Epic a symbol of pride and prestige in the world of healthcare, so customers come to them without the efforts of any salesperson.

Rebecca Woodcock
co-founder at Cake health (https://cakehealth.com/)

Women entrepreneurs in digital health

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Rebecca Woodcock holds BS in Marketing. She is co-founder at Cake Health having many years of experience in technology research, corporate strategy. She came up with the idea of CakeHealth when she faced problems with the inefficient healthcare payment system. Her friend had epilepsy, and she had to help him to manage the disease and expenses. It was the time when Rebecca felt that there was a need to control health care costs and plan in a better way. She recorded every little thing she could remember about her friend’s sickness and when she took that sheet to the doctor, and it was with this sheet that they easily recognized the pattern and identified the type of epilepsy her friend had. Therefore medication and treatment had a positive impact on his life. This sparked a new spirit in her.

Being an entrepreneur, Rebecca understands that her journey will be full of ups and downs. This is the real challenge to be fresh and calm at such time and never lose the courage and perseverance. She as other women entrepreneurs in digital health also faces some bias as there is a dramatic difference in the proportion of women to men. One strategy that Rebecca finds useful is to have a positive attitude, optimism and frame problems first and then execute against them. She is also quite resourceful in solving problems and finding a solution.

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Ms. Piraye Yurttas
founder and CEO at Celmatix (https://celmatix.com/)

Women entrepreneurs in digital health

Image Courtesy of crainsnewyork.com

Ms. Piraye Yurttas holds a BA in Plan II Honours, a BS in Biology. She has also done post-doctoral work in preimplantation embryology in mammals. Her doctoral work is in mammalian infertility. She soon gave up her academic work of a molecular biologist and started a biotechnology company of her own.

Ms. Piraye was quite passionate about her dreams; she took a start as an entrepreneur to develop fertility-prediction software, Polaris when she came to know about her diminished ovarian reserve. Her worldview changed when she became the mother of a daughter. Her passions reached their peak as during her pregnancy according to her she felt infertility much closer to her heart. So she got into conducting the first ever genomic studies in female infertility on a large scale in collaboration with different fertility clinics and tried to understand better the genetics involved in it.

Ms. Piraye founded Celmatix in 2009 which is a personalized medicine company focusing on women’s health and fertility. The company aims to empower people through correctly calculated data with its technology-enabled products and drastically enhance the chances of conception in females. In 2013, Celmatix managed to raise $13.5 million in a Series A financing round. Nowadays, the company works with 3500 patients across the three clinics with earned revenue. This company has up to 50 employees and collaborates with many academic institutions like 23andMe.

Another milestone that Celmatix is trying to achieve is the analytical tools that are going to help fertility centers in clarifying the causes of infertility and assist them to personalize the treatment strategies. These tools will eventually help women get pregnant.

Ms. Beim is on her way to develop a fertility screen test for potential infertility risk factors and let them plan. Her success lies in the fact that she is not only an entrepreneur but also a cheerleader. According to Ms. Beim, ‘There are many parallels between being an entrepreneur and a cheerleader. It’s your job to keep morale high no matter what’s going on in the field, to stay active and overcome adversity.’

The challenges faced by most of the women entrepreneurs in the digital health sector are almost the same when they enter the male-dominated world of business. The most common problem that women entrepreneurs face is to seek to fund as investors in health care don’t understand technology and investors for software never fully understand health care. Raising funds for women-owned companies is much more challenging as compared to men. They also have to deal with a majority of male executives and so try to adopt their stereotype attitude; competitive, aggressive and harsh. Female entrepreneurs find it a challenge to give directions to boys who may be quite senior in age to them and do not want directions from a woman.

All of these entrepreneurs also know that the value of their business in the eyes of people goes down when they come to know that it’s owned by a female.

All of these entrepreneurs knew that their professional growth will be hindered by the lack of advisers as males still dominate the business world. Females, on the other hand, have to keep a work-life balance as traditional gender expectations are always there.

And all of these three had to fight the fear of failure just like any other start-up entrepreneur. But failure leads the road to success. Today they are successful businesswomen as they fought these challenges bravely and reached the place where they are today.

Image credit: www.istockphoto.com


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