Congratulations to our Group Managing Director and CEO Kate Quirke, one of the inaugural award recipients announced at today’s 2021 Brilliant Women in Digital Health, an award initiative presented by Telstra Health, which aims to recognise and celebrate women in digital health for their incredible achievements.
This award initiative supports and raises awareness of the opportunities in the digital health sector with the aim to inspire others to follow the lead of award recipients.
The inaugural award recipients have been recognised for their contributions to mentoring, medical research, technology development, improving health outcomes using digital health, and introducing new digital processes for the delivery of health and aged care.
In commenting on the award Kate Quirke said “I feel very proud to receive this acknowledgement of my work. Digital health combines the power of technology with the ability to deliver a positive impact on the way that healthcare is delivered. Women have long been well represented in roles in healthcare – the Brilliant Women in Digital Health initiative highlights the potential to transfer that sector knowledge to the technology domain and opens multiple opportunities for women to contribute to improved healthcare from a different perspective”.
A 2021 Brilliant Women in Digital Health published report announces and profiles the successful 25 award recipients, in addition to the selection of one team of six individuals, by sharing their inspiring stories, achievements and contributions to digital health. As part of this report, recipients were involved in a Q&A. An excerpt from Kate’s interview below:
3 words to describe yourself?
Driven, insightful, optimistic
What do you think is the importance of this award initiative?
The opportunity for digital solutions to improve the quality of health care delivery, patient outcomes and the working lives of clinicians is still largely unrealised. The potential for women to take an active role and positively influence these opportunities is significant. Women are still relatively under-represented in STEM businesses and in Executive positions across our listed companies. While women have long been well represented in healthcare, this initiative highlights the potential to transfer that sector knowledge to the technology domain and opens multiple opportunities for women to contribute to improved health care from a different perspective.
Who has been an important mentor to you?
I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors throughout my career. Mostly men in senior roles in the technology sector who recognised that I was ambitious and capable and encouraged me to extend myself – sometimes making me move into roles where I felt incredibly out of my depth. They had the confidence in me and importantly, supported me through these transitions, ensuring that I continued to learn and grow. I believe women need more confidence in themselves to push forward their goals and ideas. A great mentor will encourage and build that confidence.
What motivated you to work in digital health?
From an early age, I’ve been passionate about how good health care can change people’s lives. My single mother was a cleaner in hospitals and had great ambitions for me to become a doctor. I took a slightly different path at university, drawn to the business side of health and landed my first role as Chief Health Information Manager at Caulfield Hospital. I was thrown into the politics of the health system very early and was often viewed as being too young and too fresh out of university.
This only served to make me more resilient and determined to demonstrate I could contribute to change. Improving health care through digital technology is my purpose and it gives me great satisfaction seeing all the benefits digital health can provide.
What is your hope for the potential of digital health?
While digital health can deliver multiple benefits, the timeline for adoption is incredibly lengthy. A positive outcome of the pandemic has been the relatively rapid and agile adoption of digital health solutions to support virtual care and remote patient monitoring. I hope this more dynamic approach will flow through to other areas that can benefit from the adoption of digital health solutions; for all healthcare organisations to be supported by smart technology aligned with their clinical and business requirements and deployed with true interoperability to ensure that patients receive optimal care as clinicians have access to information when and where it is needed.
What does good leadership look like to you?
The skills that I’ve seen in my senior management team and that I strive to bring in my leadership are honesty, openness and empathy. The best leaders are those that can actively listen, be flexible, agile and open to new ideas. Resilience is also pivotal – but it’s not about being tough, rather it’s self-awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses and the skills needed to help you problem solve.
What’s your advice to anyone working in digital health, or looking to work in the sector, and wanting to make an impact?
Get on board now! Given the smart technology available today, the potential to make a positive difference is limitless and the personal reward gained from supporting better patient outcomes cannot be under-valued. It’s a sector that has representation from a variety of backgrounds, combining these different perspectives to deliver improved digital support for health care.
To find out more about today’s 2021 Brilliant Women in Digital Health Awards click here.