The Boston Business Journal’s Inaugural Innovators in Healthcare Award

The Boston Business Journal recently held its inaugural Innovators in Healthcare event to honor 15 award recipients across seven categories. Members of the IMG team attended the event and listened to honorees participate in panel discussions on innovations in community health, social determinants in health, equity, research, and innovation in large organizations. We were especially excited to celebrate one of IMG’s clients, UMass Memorial Health and its president and CEO Dr. Eric Dickson, who was recognized for his chief executive leadership.  

Here’s a look at some key themes that honorees discussed throughout the event.  

Social Determinants in Health:  

Throughout BBJ’s panel discussions, there was broad consensus among honorees that addressing non-medical factors that influence overall health is essential to innovation. Tim Cronin, the Massachusetts director for climate policy at Health Care Without Harm, highlighted the effects climate change can have on the severity or frequency of health problems and how it can displace populations due to weather-related incidents. Cronin recently convened a working group of healthcare professionals in the Boston Green Ribbon Commission and they presented ideas on climate resilience, carbon reduction, and health equity to the Boston Public Health Commission.  

Jennifer Hanlon Wigon, the executive director of Women’s Lunch Place (WLP), also shared her goal for the public to better understand how external factors like housing and equal gender pay have substantial impacts on health and wellness. Since joining the organization at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanlon Wigon has worked tirelessly to help women overcome these external challenges by expanding and removing barriers to access addiction recovery services at WLP. 

Access to Care 

As the leader of the largest health system in Central Massachusetts, Dr. Eric Dickson is keenly aware of the capacity crisis facing Massachusetts hospitals, particularly in emergency departments. Dr. Dickson stressed how the healthcare community must work together to improve access for patients, especially in primary care. One way that Dr. Dickson and the UMass Memorial team have innovated to close this access gap is through AI tools that relieve administrative burdens on primary care clinicians. In turn, caregivers have more time to spend directly with patients, focusing on care coordination and preventive care to keep people healthy and out of the emergency department.   

Health Equity 

Panelists also voiced the importance of ensuring that health equity is central in all aspects of an organization’s mission and innovation. Adelline Ntatin, the Vice President of Health Equity at Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH), shared an example of how a large health system has embedded health equity into the organization’s operations. BILH’s three-pronged approach to providing culturally informed care intentionally considers the system’s workforce, patient population, and communities they serve.  

Dr. Elsie Taveras, Chief Community Health and Equity Officer at Mass General Brigham, also called for workforce development initiatives targeted towards students from all Massachusetts communities. This is critical as research shows that health outcomes improve when caregivers are reflective of the communities they serve.    

It was fascinating to hear from some of Massachusetts’ brightest minds during this event. Susan Fournier, the Dean of Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, said in her opening remarks: “Innovation does not happen in a vacuum.” This theme ran throughout the program as all honorees pointed to the need for partnership and sharing of ideas to make transformative change within the healthcare community. We look forward to seeing new solutions borne from more cross-sector collaboration this year and congratulate the inaugural class of Innovators in Healthcare! 

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