#HealthITChicks Spotlight Interview: Sukanya Soderland (@SSoderland)

This month’s spotlight shines on Sukanya Soderland (@SSoderland), Health & Life Sciences Partner at Oliver Wyman, and host of the #healthITchicks chat on September 22 at 12pm CT. Sukanya lives with her college-sweetheart husband Peter outside of Boston in her hometown of Winchester, MA – not far from where her parents still reside. The couple, who have an almost nine year-old daughter named Malia, have lively dinner conversations given Peter’s job as a nephrologist and Sukanya’s role at Oliver Wyman. “We are always coming at healthcare issues from different angles,” Sukanya laughingly explains. “He’s my focus group of one!”

In addition to caring for the family’s school of fish, Sukanya supports Seeds of Peace, an organization that brings together youth from war-torn regions to demonstrate that the enemy has a face, and to enhance conflict resolution and leadership skills.

When it comes to social media communities, Sukanya enjoys different interior design blogs. “It is a fun hobby for me to design my house and to see how others design theirs,” she says.

Aside from her favorite blogs, she is currently immersed in “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants” by Malcolm Gladwell. “I saw [him] speak a few months ago, and I’m continually impressed by how is able to express compelling social-science concepts in a memorable and convincing way,” Sukanya adds.

When it comes to apps, Uber is her current favorite due to her role as a consulting road warrior. “It offers instant mobility everywhere, and remembers my top three destinations when I land,” she adds. “It makes it much easier to always be on the go.”

Spotlight Questions

How have you seen women make a difference in during your time in the industry? Is there one woman in particular whose contributions have stood out? In healthcare, Alex Drane is an inspiration. She has helped illuminate how non-health specific factors can make all the difference in one’s health. She founded Eliza Corp., and her Vulnerability Index demonstrates the importance of factors like work stress, relationship stress, and lifestyle and how those factors matter in health.

Do you feel that the industry is where it needs to be in terms of offering equal advancement/leadership and mentorship opportunities? Healthcare in many respects is better than many other industries in placing women in senior roles. There are many women leaders across payers, providers, and life sciences. Medical schools are graduating men and women at equal rates and medicine offers a more flexible career for many. Healthcare is in a good position with a number of smart women coming in.

There is more we can do to develop talent. One of the best ways is through one-on-one interactions where senior women can get to know more junior women. These relationships can provide benefits to both. It can be gratifying and fulfilling to see the blood, sweat, and tears that you put in make a difference for someone else’s opportunities.

What organizations and resources do you follow that have helped you professionally, especially with regards to being a female health IT professional?This is such a transitional moment in healthcare that it can be difficult to keep up with all the changes. It’s helpful to subscribe to email feeds [from industry news outlets] to help me point me toward where I might want to dig in a little further. Industry forums like the Health Evolution Summit have been wonderful opportunities to get to know innovative leaders in healthcare.

What gender workplace topics have resonated with you over the last year? I am a member of Oliver Wyman’s Inclusion Council. The Council is comprised of senior staff representatives from our offices worldwide. We help identify and recommend tactical actions and new programs that will help create a strong, united, and inclusive culture at work. We want everyone to feel confident that they can succeed here being themselves. When people don’t feel engaged at work, they tend to pull back. It’s crucial for a productive work environment and for attracting top talent to foster an inclusive culture.

Work/life balance is another important topic. It’s not specific to women or people with families. We’re all on an electronic leash these days that can cause burnout. We are looking for ways to understand what people’s personal priorities are and provide them the space to find a balance. It’s hard to get everything in sync in any given moment.

What are you looking forward to chatting about during the #healthITchicks tweetup on September 22? I’m interested in exploring digital disruption in healthcare, particularly how it is affecting payers. I’m hosting with my Digital Practice colleague Rick Chavez a roundtable discussion at the Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit this week on how digital can — and will — disrupt healthcare, what digital can do for healthcare organizations, and how healthcare organizations can mobilize and ensure that their digital activities create outsized impact.

Related topics to discuss during the chat:

1. What does digital mean in healthcare?

2. What impact can digital create in healthcare?

3. How has digital changed consumers’ expectations in health?

4. What are some ways health plans can use digital to reinvent their business models?

5. What would a next-generation product or offering look like in healthcare?

My recent blog posts have delved into these topics, as well as a recent report we produced with the Health Evolution Summit that included the ideas of 25 innovators on how technology can be used to unlock and scale consumer value in healthcare. See links below for background reading before the chat:

Next-Generation Primary Care Models: Digital, Holistic, Seamless

4 Takeaways: AHIP Institute 2016 Confirms Market Uncertainty is New Normal for Health Plans

The Digital Evolution of Healthcare: What It Means for Payers

Reinventing the Health Plan: Truly Putting the Consumer at the Center

Infographic: Benefits of Scale for Health Plans

Health Evolution Summit: Using Technology to Unlock & Scale Consumer Value in Healthcare

Harvard Business Review: What the Insurance Industry Can Do to Fix Health Care

Join me (@JennDennard) and Sukanya Soderland (@SSoderland) for the next #healthITchicks chat on Thursday, September 22 at 12pm CT. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn via the #healthITchicks group

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