16 Healthcare Innovators That You Should Know
These 16 innovators are changing the face of healthcare. They are behavioral scientists, product leaders, academic researchers, statisticians, physicians, clinicians, strategists, experts in diversity equity and inclusion, implementation scientists, and tech leaders. They cross boundaries and repel traditional healthcare models. They are on the front lines and behind the scenes. And what they all have in common is their passion and commitment to innovation in health.
In my interviews with these sixteen leaders, I found they are redefining what it means to be an innovator. From uprooting systemic inequities to enabling paradigm shifts in research methods, from connecting with patients to designing delightful experiences, they are the ones making a difference in healthcare.
1. Heather Cole-Lewis
Heather Cole-Lewis is an accomplished leader with deep cross-sector experience, a strong scientific background in evidence-based solutions, and a proven ability to develop, drive, and measure the impact of systematic business processes that enhance health outcomes and critical business outcomes. She is Health Equity Clinical Scientist at Google. Read her full interview here: on health technology with humility and bringing your full self.
2. Linda Collins
Linda Collins is a behavioral scientist and research methodologist who has developed and expanded the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST) framework for integrating basic engineering principles into intervention science. She is working toward a paradigm shift in intervention science to replace outmoded (yet popular) methods with more effective research processes that are more efficient, cost-effective, and scalable. She is Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Biostatistics in the School of Global Public Health at New York University. Read her full interview here: on hard-nosed empiricism and optimizing interventions.
3. Riana Elyse Anderson
Riana Elyse Anderson strives to improve psychological outcomes for Black youth through culturally and contextually relevant parenting programs focused on racism and discrimination, effective coping strategies, and community building. You can also catch her at Carnival and eating cake pops. She is Assistant Professor in the Health Behavior and Health Education Department in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. Read her full interview here: on virtual reality for wellbeing and the impact of racism on mental health.
4. Maryam Zahedi
Maryam Zahedi is a designer, researcher and strategist, passionate about creating meaningful experiences that help improve people’s lives. Through the process of understanding human needs and formulating insights, Maryam applies her diverse background in digital, physical, and spatial experience design to create new products, services, and systems that are meaningful and impactful for the people using them. She dreams of transforming dreaded healthcare experiences into delightful moments to remember. She is a Senior Product Designer at Apple Health. Read her full interview here: on interactive experiences and co-creation.
5. Gokul Krishnan
Gokul Krishnan is on a mission to create a more hopeful world for all children living with an illness. He is the founder of Maker Therapy, an innovative pediatric patient experience that offers hospitalized chronically and terminally ill youth creative and stimulating environments (Makerspaces) to provoke their sense of curiosity, encourage them to set up and pursue personal goals via invention, and inspire them to feel more agentive in taking charge of their healing process. He believes that patients need to be viewed as experts of their own experiences. He is a Disability Experience Specialist at Google. Read his full interview here: on participatory design and pediatric quality of life.
6. Aarthi Rao
Aarthi Rao is passionate about applying innovation tools like design thinking, behavioral science, and experiments to listen closely to people, discover hidden opportunities and needs, test quickly, and scale programs to improve lives. She is radically improving healthcare as Head of Behavioral Insights and Program Design at Cityblock Health. Read her full interview here: on shared understanding and partnering with curiosity.
7. Nnamdi Ezeanochie
Nnamdi Ezeanochie has extensive professional experience in technology-based health care and behavioral science implementation and research, with a unique focus on developing-country settings. His research expertise focuses on mobile technology adoption and implementation, health care program management, community and health behavior services, IT healthcare solutions, and disease outbreak management. He strongly believes that healthcare innovators need to test, learn, fail and adapt quickly. He is the Director of Behavior Science at Johnson & Johnson. Read his full interview here: on capturing nuance and going back to the basics.
8. Samantha Meltzer-Brody
Samantha Meltzer-Brody is an internationally recognized physician-scientist in perinatal depression, and her work has focused on developing a comprehensive integrated clinical and research program in Women’s Mood Disorders across the reproductive life cycle. She is excited about using digital technology for research and clinical care. She is the Assad Meymandi Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Read her full interview here: on transformation in telepsychiatry and ignoring the naysayers.
9. Eric J. Daza
Eric J. Daza investigates how to discover causal relationships from an individual’s own wearable device, sensor and app data. He is a data science statistician and creator of Stats-of-1, a health statistics blog focused on digital within-individual statistical designs or methods. He has worked for 18+ years in both industry and academia, in pharma clinical trials, survey sampling, nutrition, maternal and child health, global health, health promotion & disease prevention, health tech, digital health, and behavioral medicine. And he recommends reading science fiction like Isaac Asimov for inspiration in healthcare. He is Lead Biostatistician at Evidation. Read his full interview here: on N-of-1 trials and precision medicine.
10. Bridgette Collado
Bridgette Collado is a strategist and operator with experience in digital products for the health space, and has previously worked designing interventions leveraging behavioral science as a UX designer and subject matter expert as a registered dietitian nutritionist. And she’s equally content to be outdoors marveling at nature and the built environment. She is Head of Strategy and Operations at Onboard Health where she works to help build a future of inclusive leadership in healthcare. Read her full interview here: on a more equitable future of health and the impact of DEI on business outcomes.
11. Sherry Pagoto
Sherry Pagoto is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and social media researcher. Her research focuses on leveraging technology in the development and delivery of behavioral interventions targeting diet, physical activity, and cancer prevention. She is the Professor of Allied Health Sciences and Director of the UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media in the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Interventions, and Policy at the University of Connecticut. Read her full interview here: on misinformation and weight loss through Facebook.
12. Kate Wolin
Kate Wolin is an entrepreneurial executive and behavioral epidemiologist. She brings over 20 years of experience combining behavioral medicine, user-centered design and data science to deliver effective health behavior change solutions. Her unique combination of academic and commercial expertise threads the needle between evidence-based approaches and commercialization. She has a standing 6:15am Thursday morning meeting which is typically the highlight of her week! She is Head of Product at Optum. Read her full interview here: on digital healthcare and the double black diamond of innovation.
13. Ashleigh Golden
Ashleigh Golden is a clinical psychologist fostering mental health in vivo and virtually, and combines her background in journalism and Classics with expertise in empirically sound psychological interventions to craft meaningful, effective behavioral health content and programs. Her clinical passion lies in the evidence-based treatment of obsessive-compulsive and anxiety-related disorders. In her spare time, she enjoys lindy hop and salsa rueda, writing short stories, and teaching coping skills on TikTok through her shih tzu Cosette. She is Director of Clinical Content at Woebot Health. Read her full interview here: on systemic roadblocks and empathic sensibilities.
14. Félix Manuel Chinea
Félix Manuel Chinea is a medical doctor by training with expertise in health disparities, health equity, and clinical research. He is Head of Health Equity & Inclusion Strategy at Doximity where he applies an equity-centered, inclusion lens to impact people, practices, and products. Read his full interview here: on systems-level frameworks and digital health equity.
15. Clare Kennedy Purvis
Clare Kennedy Purvis is a licensed clinical psychologist whose work is focused on using technology to support people in living full and vital lives. She is Chief Product Officer at Mindcure. Her advice to aspiring innovators? Spend 10x more time understanding the problem than you spend imagining the solution. Check your assumptions. Use data. Ask more questions. Read her full interview here: on scaling behavioral science and creating delightful experiences.
16. Madalina Sucala
Madalina Sucala is a behavioral scientist and digital health strategist who merges scientific rigor with a keen focus on patient needs to improve health outcomes and overall treatment experience. She is Director of Digital Health Science, Oncology R&D at AstraZeneca. She says “we have to start with a very crisp understanding of the need and general problem space before arriving at an innovative solution. We cannot bend the needs of the patients or their circumstances to fit our tools, so we can only develop better tools that are fit for purpose.” Read her full interview here: on leading with compassion and supporting unmet patient needs.
If you enjoyed this list, you should check out these 10 Behavioral Scientists You Should Know.