Women Leaders in Digital Health Award seeks to shine the spotlight on everyday leadership

Orion Health’s Susan Anderson leads creation of new industry award

When Susan Anderson, Managing Director, Orion Health, was Assistant Deputy Minister for Alberta Health, she witnessed the growth of an inspiring leadership education program. With a focus on encouraging leadership within departmental ranks, the program looked beyond managers and executives and empowered employees at any level to define leadership for themselves, in their own spheres.

Redefining and celebrating leadership at all levels is at the core of the Women Leaders in Digital Health Awards. As a board member of Digital Health Canada: Canada’s Health Informatics Association, Ms. Anderson led the creation of the new award, one that would celebrate leadership in two groups that often operate under the radar: women in digital health, and everyday leaders whose achievements go unrecognized in the industry.

“I wanted to reframe leadership,” said Ms. Anderson. “Instead of focusing on women in CMIO and CEO roles, why not focus on all women leaders in digital health – nurses, lab techs, project managers. Everybody.”

Now in its first year, the Women Leaders in Digital Health Award will annually celebrate lifetime achievement in leadership as well as highlighting ten new women leaders who have been previously unrecognized.

“Award winners don’t have to be project leaders or department heads,” said Ms. Anderson. “The winners might be project members, emerging professionals, or young people just coming out of university. We are opening up the concept of leadership.”

In the context of the Women Leaders in Digital Health Award, leadership can be found in anyone willing to challenge themselves by stretching their personal goals. Leadership behavior, regardless of position, includes mentoring, communicating with confidence, collaborating, and striving daily to provide a positive example and create a rewarding experience for others.

“The beauty of the digital health industry is that it creates more opportunities for leadership,” said Ms. Anderson. “Not just within organizations, but across the entire digital health network. Development opportunities across the industry enable people with leadership initiative to break out of their traditional roles and participate. I think more and more organizations are encouraging employees to reach out, volunteer, connect, and engage.”

Leading in a volunteer role is another example of outside-the-box leadership experience the Women Leaders in Digital Health Award seeks to recognize. For example, serving on a non-profit board for a youth shelter gave Ms. Anderson both an enriching experience and valuable insight into board membership procedures and responsibilities. Ms. Anderson says: “Volunteer roles offer opportunities for leadership that go beyond the bounds of a job description and allows people to put leadership into action; to be a leader by acting like a leader.”

Leadership can take many forms. The quiet team member who always goes the extra mile; the industry peer who goes out of her way to share her connections; or the manager who always makes time to mentor younger employees. “It’s about appreciation and acknowledgment,” said Ms. Anderson. “The reality is that a lot of leaders in health are women, but they are not necessarily the executives. Let’s shine the spotlight on those everyday extraordinary efforts.”

Read more about the Women Leaders in Digital Health Awards.