People often ask me how I got into the healthcare technology business. Was it by chance or stemming from something in my background? I joined Nuance in 2013 because I was disheartened with healthcare. If you’ve spent much time in and out of hospitals you know it is riddled with inefficiencies, and requires some serious disruption to make it better for providers, and for patients. When I looked at industries of interest, I was enthralled by the auto industry, but I specifically chose healthcare as a career because here I have the opportunity to sway the hearts and minds of people who believe, like I do, that together we can fix healthcare.
As a leader, I think it’s important to share that this is not just a job we do every day and then we set it aside and go home and sit on the couch. Health is personal and I think if I share my passion with employees and others it will inspire us all to do better 24×7, not just when we are designing or deploying software.
That leads me to February, Heart Health Month. Raising awareness around heart disease is a very personal passion of mine. As some people know, I lost my wife in 2014 to a sudden heart attack. She was only 49 with no prior symptoms. Since her passing, I have dedicated much of my time to understanding the disease and learning about prevention strategies and treatments to fight it. In her honor, I founded The Shalini Maripuri Foundation, which provides support and funding to organizations and groups that drive prevention and awareness of heart disease. I have also recently taken a role on the local Board of the American Heart Association to further research, education and awareness in the community. As a supporter of these organizations, I can reach a larger audience and encourage people to take the time to learn about heart disease, and to prevent it.
Bringing that passion to work
One in every four women dies from heart disease in the U.S. Often, the first time is the last time for women and the signs are very different for women than for men. That’s why I’ve worked with the Women in Nuance group and the Shalini Maripuri Foundation to organize several educational and wellness activities at work, to sponsor biometric and heart screenings for employees during February and encourage employees to live heart healthy lives through stress management, diet and exercise. This personal approach really works. Within minutes of my announcing this to employees, I received 15-20 responses including one from a woman who had recently lost her husband to a heart issue, and a male employee who was now inspired to lose the 35 pounds he had gained in the last year.
I write this blog for two reasons.
- Everyone should get educated about heart disease because it’s often preventable. Understand that the signs and symptoms are different for men and women and that many of us don’t know the warning signs. Visit these three links to learn more: http://www.heart.org; https://womensheartalliance.org; Getting Your Heart Checked.
- Amplify this message no matter what your role or your industry. It doesn’t take the head of a healthcare technology company to get the word out and get involved in the community. We each play an important role in educating ourselves and our families about risks as well as a family history of heart disease. More importantly we each need to make prevention a priority.
Take action by talking to your doctor about your risks. Remember that each of us have the incredible opportunity to make an impact on healthcare in many ways. At Nuance we do that through our solutions for healthcare providers, but as people we can have a very dramatic impact through our voices and support in the community!
For more information on heart disease and prevention, please visit the AHA here.