Women’s Health Tech Wednesday Recap – 8/10/22

August 10, 2022

On August 10th, we were fortunate to host Carolyn Kay, of Roche, for our Women’s Health Tech Wednesday. Here is a glimpse of the conversation

What is Carolyn’s background?

I am an obstetrician-gynecologist with a focus on cervical pre-cancer and cancer, racial disparities in cervical cancer screening, reproductive justice, and the use of digital technology to address unmet needs in women’s health. As well as a contributor to the global movement to eliminate cervical cancer while working to move the needle on physician education and health literacy in historically excluded communities. Prior to joining Roche, I was in clinical practice in Washington. I majored in mathematics and biology at Bryn Mawr College and earned my medical degree at the SUNY Upstate Medical University in New York.

What does Women Health Technology mean to you?

It’s the intersection and ecosystem of health technology science in addressing some needs in women’s health and also leveraging the lived experiences of women, folks who are trans, and gender non-conforming who are also affected by these issues.

What made you want to stray away from the non-traditional medical path?

After escaping the intense pressures of being pre-med and believing in myself and what is right for me, I began to look into other avenues such as teaching, and even as I was teaching I loved talking about health and I just love empowering people to have knowledge about their health. Ultimately, I did end up in medicine and continue to do this out of joy and love for sharing this information. When I started the gynecologist career path, I did follow the traditional path, but did not feel it was right for me, so I looked for other possibilities, and I found this technological opportunity at Roche.

Why is cervical cancer important in the USA?

In comparison to other countries around the world, I think the US is doing a fairly decent job, not to say that there aren’t any flaws or big areas for improvement, but when I look at the rates of screening by state, we are in the ballpark of 70-80% of people who have been screened in the last two years. Our rates of cervical cancer have also come down significantly since implementing screening in general health exams. In the last few years, these levels of cervical cancer have plateaued, therefore we are no longer going down but now staying at the same level, thus there’s a lot we can do to address this issue and there are many reasons why that might be the case, and this is the area where I’m focused on both in the US and abroad.

What advice do you have for women to ensure better health?

Be your best advocate! I think women in general are socially and culturally conditioned to not ask questions, or we don’t want to rock the boat or seem as challenging, but in healthcare it’s your life, it’s your health on the line, and it’s so important. I learned from personal experience, be your best advocate and if you feel like you’re not in a good position, or you don’t feel strong enough, bring someone who will make you feel like you will or who will help you be your best advocate.

We would like to extend gratitude to Carolyn Kay for her insight and time. To check out the video of the full interview, click here 

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