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Sexual Harassment and Misconduct in Health Tech: Ensuring Safe Spaces for Women



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In this article, we’ll discuss the issue of sexual harassment and misconduct within health tech, the systemic challenges women face and explore the measures necessary to create safe spaces for all.

In recent years, the health tech industry has surged to the forefront of innovation, merging healthcare and technology to revolutionize patient care and medical practices. However, beneath this progress lies a troubling issue that has plagued the sector: sexual harassment and misconduct. 

As more women enter this dynamic field, it becomes increasingly critical to address and mitigate these issues to ensure a safe and inclusive working environment. Employers within this sector should seek advice from professionals, including solicitors in St Albans, to ensure best practises are being met. 

This article delves into the prevalence of sexual harassment and misconduct within health tech, examining the systemic challenges women face and exploring the measures necessary to create safe spaces for all. By highlighting both the obstacles and potential solutions, we aim to foster a dialogue that propels the industry towards a future where every professional can thrive without fear of harassment.

Understanding Sexual Harassment and Misconduct in Health Tech

Sexual harassment and misconduct encompass a range of behaviours that can create a hostile work environment. This includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. In health tech, where collaboration and teamwork are crucial, such behaviour can severely disrupt professional relationships and hinder productivity.

The Scope of the Problem

Recent studies indicate that a significant percentage of women in tech have experienced some form of sexual harassment. The health tech industry, despite its focus on innovation and bettering human life, is not exempt from this troubling statistic. The high-pressure environment, coupled with a lack of stringent organisational policies, often exacerbates the problem.

Impact on Victims

The repercussions of sexual harassment and misconduct are profound and far-reaching. Victims may face psychological distress, decreased job satisfaction, and diminished career prospects. The impact extends beyond the individual, affecting team dynamics, workplace morale, and overall productivity. Moreover, it can deter talented women from entering or remaining in the industry, depriving health tech of diverse perspectives and skills.

Image source: Pexels

Preventive Measures and Policies

Addressing sexual harassment and misconduct requires a multifaceted approach. Organisations must implement comprehensive policies that clearly define unacceptable behaviour, establish reporting mechanisms, and outline consequences for perpetrators. Furthermore, continuous training and awareness programmes are essential to foster a culture of respect and accountability.

Implementing Effective Policies

Effective policies should include:

  • A clear definition of what constitutes sexual harassment and misconduct.
  • Established procedures for reporting incidents confidentially and safely
  • A commitment to investigating all complaints promptly and thoroughly.
  • Assurances that there will be no retaliation against those who report misconduct.

Training and Awareness Programmes

Training programmes are crucial for educating employees about the nuances of sexual harassment and misconduct. These programmes should cover the following:

  1. Recognising different forms of harassment and understanding their impact.
  2. Knowing how to report incidents and understanding the support systems in place.
  3. Encouraging bystander intervention to prevent or stop harassment.
  4. Promoting a culture of respect and inclusivity within the workplace.

Organisations can utilise online education resources for sexual assault prevention to further enhance their training initiatives.

The Role of Leadership

Leading by Example

Leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping workplace culture. Leaders must lead by example, demonstrating zero tolerance for any form of harassment. This includes:

  • Openly discussing the importance of a harassment-free workplace.
  • Ensuring transparency in handling complaints and investigations.
  • Providing unwavering support to victims and taking decisive action against perpetrators.

Creating an Inclusive Environment

Inclusivity is fundamental to preventing harassment. Leaders should strive to create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. This involves:

  • Encouraging diverse hiring practices to ensure a balanced workforce.
  • Facilitating open discussions about gender equality and inclusivity.
  • Implementing policies that support work-life balance and reduce workplace stress.

Such measures not only protect employees but also enhance organisational reputation and effectiveness.

The Role of Technology

Monitoring and Reporting Systems

Technology can aid in combating sexual harassment and misconduct. Advanced monitoring systems can help track inappropriate behaviour, while secure reporting platforms ensure that victims can report incidents without fear of retaliation.

Educational Tools

Online tools and applications can provide continuous education and resources on sexual harassment. They can facilitate interactive learning experiences and keep employees updated on the latest policies and procedures.

For a deeper understanding of how technology can be leveraged to address sexual misconduct, explore this resource on technology-facilitated sexual violence.

Addressing sexual harassment in the health tech sector… 

Creating safe spaces for women in the health tech industry is a shared responsibility. It requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including employees, leaders, and policymakers. By fostering an environment of respect, inclusivity, and accountability, we can ensure that the health tech sector not only thrives but also becomes a model for other industries to follow.

Ultimately, addressing sexual harassment and misconduct is not just about compliance but about cultivating a workplace where everyone can contribute to their fullest potential, free from fear and discrimination.

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‘Groundbreaking’ endometriosis study identifies patient priorities



A “groundbreaking” study into endometriosis has identified three areas for future research that can help improve the outcomes for women with the condition.

The study, commissioned by Endometriosis New Zealand, attracted 1,262 participants, including 1,024 people with confirmed endometriosis, making it the largest ever study involving endometriosis patients and supporters in New Zealand.

Study participants identified the management and treatment of endometriosis, the need for a better understanding of its cause and improvements to diagnostic capability as the three main priorities for further research.

While these findings provide a clear pathway for future work, Endometriosis New Zealand chief executive, Tanya Cooke, said endometriosis research had historically been underfunded.

“With an estimated 120,000 New Zealanders living with endometriosis, much more needs to be invested into finding solutions,” Cooke explained.

“The reality is the outcomes for many endometriosis patients are pretty poor, with diagnosis often taking many years and treatment patchy across the country.”

Estimates based on Australian data suggest that endometriosis is likely to be costing New Zealand somewhere in the range of $1.3-1.5bn annually through increased healthcare costs and lost workforce productivity.

Cooke said: “The good news is that our findings align closely with those in Australia and provide three clear priorities for future research – improved treatment options, causation and better diagnostic capability.

“What New Zealand now requires is proper funding for a future research programme that can investigate these priorities more closely and improve the outcomes for individuals living with endometriosis.”

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Virtual care platform secures US$46m to address US maternal health crisis

Pomelo Care will use the funding to scale its care model and improve maternal and infant outcomes



Marta Bralic Kerns, founder and CEO of Pomelo Care

The US virtual maternity care platform Pomelo Care has secured US$46m in funding to address the US maternal health crisis.

One in 10 babies born in the US today start their life in a neonatal intensive care unit.

Healthcare access continues to worsen, with one in eight births occurring in US counties with limited-to-no access to maternal care. Due to significant gaps in postpartum care, about half of pregnancy-related deaths in the US occur after hospital discharge.

The evidence exists for how to identify people at highest risk for complications and which interventions are most effective, but existing data gaps and provider capacity challenges make it difficult to apply these interventions at scale.

Pomelo has developed a care model that aims to address these challenges by analysing claims and health record data to identify individual risk factors and providing virtual pregnancy, postpartum, and infant care to patients to reduce those risks.

“We’ve long known what works to reduce maternal and infant complications,” said Marta Bralic Kerns, founder and CEO of Pomelo Care.

“The questions have always been: can you identify the patients who are at highest risk, can you deeply engage them in care to drive uptake of the prevention strategies we know work, and can you do it in the highest risk populations with the most limited access to care?”

“This data demonstrates that we absolutely can. And with this additional funding, we’ll have the opportunity to scale our care model to more pregnant people across the country.”

The funding, led by existing investors First Round Capital and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) Bio + Health, is hoped to help Pomelo accelerate its partnerships with payors across the US and increase access to “evidence-based” care.

Josh Kopelman, partner at First Round Capital and Pomelo board member, said: “It’s rare to come across an opportunity where the incentives between patient, provider and payor are all aligned.

“Marta and the Pomelo team have found an incredible opportunity to dramatically improve outcomes for the highest risk populations, while helping payors reduce their avoidable costs.”

Vineeta Agarwala, general partner at a16z Bio + Health and Pomelo board member, added: “Pomelo is one among a small set of health tech companies that have earned true scale.

“This scale is evident in our partnerships with major Medicaid and commercial plans covering over three million lives, which create the opportunity to collaborate with OB providers, labour and delivery wards, and NICUs nationwide, while serving hundreds of thousands of expecting mothers and newborns with high quality, technology-enabled care.”

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One in three UK fertility patients seek treatment abroad due to high costs

Expensive fertility treatments prompt UK patients to seek help abroad



One in three fertility patients in the UK seek treatment abroad due to high costs, a new survey has shown.

Fertility Family has gathered insights from 429 UK participants who have experienced difficulties with infertility.

The Infertility Awareness Report found that the high cost of fertility treatment in the UK has driven over one in four people to spend over £10,000 on both treatments and investigative procedures.

The research showed around 35 per cent of people struggling with infertility have considered seeking fertility treatment abroad due to the prospect of lower costs.

Of those seeking fertility treatment in a foreign country, however, only 14 per cent believed that clinics abroad have a higher success rate.

Of those actively trying to conceive almost one in five have used their life savings in the pursuit of having a child, whilst 25 per cent have paid for their fertility treatments using a credit card.

Dr Gill Lockwood, consultant at Fertility Family, said: “While we tend to cast our gaze on women when it comes to infertility, case studies have shown that infertility can impact both women and men in similar ways. However, women have been observed to seek help more than men.

“Although the psychological struggles of infertility can be overwhelming, many patients ultimately reach some type of resolution. Some of the alternatives include becoming parents to a relative’s children, adopting children, or deciding to adopt a child-free lifestyle.

“Needless to say, this resolution is usually psychologically demanding, and patients may feel forever impacted by the experience of infertility.”

A combination of fertility struggles and accessible healthcare have impacted people across the UK significantly, with one in two admitting to feeling “ashamed” due to their difficulties trying to conceive.

A further 31 per cent reported feeling that other people think “less” of them due to their fertility struggles, showcasing the need for better mental health support.

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