Emily Ashby '14
Alumna Emily Ashby shares her knowledge about the intersection between healthcare promotion and technology. Emily, who graduated from our Science of Food, Nutrition, and Exercise option, shares opportunities for HNFE students to make an impact while pursuing careers in application and product development, informatics, and data science.
Give us some background on your journey. Why did you decide to pursue a career in healthcare technology?
“Relevance, mainly. Healthcare affects everyone, and without it, all other aspirations are stifled. I’m ardent about the positive influence of data as a catalyst to health system and policy evolution. It’s no secret that the healthcare system has seen a lot of innovation, and in some senses, failures, that we can learn from. I have a deep desire to understand the global and local issues that accompany the field into an increasingly digital age. It’s really our generation's responsibility to design and implement digital infrastructure that challenges the status quo and improves health equity.
“I can also talk about my personal “why.” A year after graduating from college, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which is considered incurable. His diagnosis caused me to think about how to solve problems humans still grapple to understand, and the intersection between clinical medicine, data, and research, and the tools and technologies we use and have yet to develop. I thought a lot about the duality of what aspects of health are in our control, and which aren’t. I thought about cause and effect; the role of artificial intelligence; and how to collect, analyze, codify, and systemize information. I thought about applying newfound knowledge to policies and technologies that impact accessibility, equity, and quality of life. More than anything, I thought about my dad and others in a similar situation, and why I’m passionate about making an impact at scale. Informatics and technology are how we scale a universe of medical and scientific information into universally positive patient outcomes. Contributing to this field that is so intricately connected to every part of human life just feels like the right thing to do.”
Tell us about your current role.
“I work at a large technology company and our team works to recruit, mature, and integrate industry technology solutions based on the needs of our customer and partner ecosystem and build revenue generating businesses on the platform. My job requires me to identify gaps to goal, ideate relevant program and application development proposals and execute to completion.
“As a result of the ongoing global pandemic, I’ve spearheaded partnerships within medical transportation, testing and contact tracing, corporate wellness, digital health content and enablement, and behavioral health.
“Over the last four years, I’ve sought understanding of the payer, provider, pharmaceutical, and medical technology arenas to meet deliverables in remote monitoring, telehealth, HIPAA compliant medical transcription, bedside interpretation services, and clinical trial management, to name a few.
“I love my job because I’m helping build the puzzle pieces that make up an integrated system. There is no one answer or silver bullet to solving the puzzle, and we need these many vendors working together.”
From your perspective, what do you consider to be top medical technology trends for healthcare in the next decade?
Emily suggests checking out the Gartner Hype Cycle for medical technology trends.
- What is going well?
“Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources and the amazing efforts to make our healthcare system increasingly interoperable.”
- What makes her hopeful?
“New perspectives resulting from the pandemic, consumer technologies like wearable devices assisting with remote care coordination.”
- Where does she see room for improvement?
“Our healthcare industry has experienced significant shift and system failure in the last decade causing physician burnout and frustration, which has created some tension and trust issues between providers and technology.”
How did HNFE prepare you for success in your current role?
“In order to build a great solution, you have to understand the problem, and perhaps the problem is increased annual healthcare spending due to rising rates of chronic disease and obesity. That’s 101 for a HNFE student. So, how can should build solutions to meet people where they are and encourage healthier behaviors and preventative action."
What advice do you have for students interested in technology careers?
“Don’t be afraid if you don’t have a degree in software development or that you’ve never studied Java or Python. I’m certainly not a hands on keyboard person, and I do not write code. Everyone brings different strengths to the table and works as a team.”
Connect with Emily on LinkedIn.