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What makes a successful health tech leader?

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In February 2023, Health Tech World will recognise some of the industry’s most influential and impactful products, companies and individuals.

An expert panel will assess entries for the eight categories, with representation from across the globe.

The Health Tech Leader of the Year award, sponsored by Odgers Berndtson, promises to be hotly contested, with so many innovations helping to reshape healthcare in the past year alone.

So what skills and qualities does a leader need to succeed in the health tech space?

We asked stakeholders from across the health tech industry and beyond.

Here’s what they had to say.

Communication skills

Dr Owain Hughes is CEO of Cinapsis – a health tech initiative working with NHS organisations across England to boost collaboration and speed up patient access to care.

Dr Owain Hughes

Dr Hughes believes that effective communication is crucial to collaboration, both within a team and with core stakeholders and clinicians.

He told Health Tech World:

“In both cases, leading with a culture of open, direct communication ensures that nuance and detail is never overlooked, and that solutions are delivered in a way which optimises outcomes for both patients and clinicians.”

Bupa Care Services works with more than 10,000 people who provide high quality care for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Rebecca Pearson, General Manager, Care Services, Bupa Global & UK, believes that being receptive to feedback is integral to successful leadership.

Rebecca said:

“A large part of my role as a leader is ensuring that they are able to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

“That means listening to feedback, being open to change, and having a finger on the pulse of the latest technologies that can support colleagues and residents.”

‘Leadership is all about people’

Martin Gibbons is co-founder of PeopleMaps.com – a pioneer of online personality profiling technology for over 22 years and its application in recruitment, management, performance and teams.

He said:

“Health tech leaders need to have a good understanding of self and others, as leadership is all about people.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the processes and the technology, however, it is the leader’s ability to relate to people, that will determine whether they are successful or not.”

Being sensitive to your team’s needs can not only improve productivity but also morale.

By supporting people who are struggling, a strong leader brings the individual on side, helping to strengthen the team.

Thom Dennis

Thom Dennis is CEO of Serenity in Leadership.

The company looks ‘under carpets’ and ‘behind the wallpaper’ to analyse what’s working and what isn’t in a workplace and then actively helps to orchestrate positive change.

Thom said:

“Taking a firm line on sharing the burdens, reducing toxicity and burnout in the workplace, and wanting the best for colleagues’ mental and physical health.

“Being individual-employee-centric and offering flexibility and support are key.”

Empathy

Empathy is integral to our health system, from the clinicians caring for their patients the wider community for supporting and championing the NHS.

But it is even more important for managers to demonstrate empathy, said Dr Anas Nader CEO and co-founder, Patchwork Health.

Dr Nader believes that huge amounts of empathy are needed if you want to become an effective manager, continually add value to your NHS clients and constantly strive to do better for your clinical users.

He said:

“It’s a quality frontline clinical staff demonstrate every day and businesses working on solutions to help them therefore have a duty to reflect that back.

“Without empathy, we’ll lose sight of the overall goal: making healthcare work better for staff and patients.”

Dr Pamela Walker is a partner at management consultancy Gate One where she helps global healthcare businesses like GSK to health tech startups to innovate, grow, and better service their markets.

Dr Pamela Walker

She said:

“It is critical for health industry leaders to have strong customer empathy.

“The space is all about transforming the customer experience and so leadership teams have to be closely attuned to diverse expectations and needs.

“For example, how digital savvy is your customer base? Are they time rich or poor? Are they overstretched?

“These kind of questions must be constantly considered and revaluated if you are to truly know and support your customer.”

Courage

It takes real strength and confidence to lead at the best of times, let alone when things are tough.

A brave and determine leader can help a team navigate choppy waters and come out the other side stronger than before.

Chris Tackaberry is CEO of Clinithink – an AI software company tackling some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare.

Chris Tackaberry

He said:

“A good leader needs courage.

“If you don’t back yourself when you embark on innovation and discovery, neither will anybody else.

“You really have to believe in what you are doing. People can smell doubt a mile off.

“But also humility, too. There is no crime in being wrong — to err is human, and absolutely no one gets it right every time.

“Listening, and observing how things are progressing once you have committed to a course of action is vital, otherwise you won’t spot and learn from mistakes.”

Who has what it takes to be crowned Health Tech Leader of the Year? Submit your nominations now.

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