In honor of Women's History Month, we're celebrating the women today who are at the forefront of their fields and developing the future of tomorrow. Today, we're spotlighting Melynda Barnes, SVP of Medical Affairs and Research at Ro, a telehealth company that aims to use technology to power all healthcare needs.
Chief: What is the problem you are solving for tomorrow?
MB: How to leverage technology to scale and democratize high quality, safe, and affordable healthcare for everyone.
Chief: What is the next frontier to conquer in your industry?
MB: This is likely to be an unpopular thought but I think that the healthcare industry needs to conquer the misaligned incentives that insurance introduces. Right now, incentives are not aligned with what is best for patient care and for patients to lead healthy and fulfilling lives because of how healthcare is paid for and managed in our country. We need to find a way for health insurance to function in the same way that insurance works in other areas (renters, car, flood, home), which is to provide a safety net for rare, costly, and catastrophic events. This means that we need to think through a different mechanism to pay for common, daily, and routine healthcare and prevention.
Chief: What is the biggest challenge we need to overcome for a more gender-equal workplace and society?
MB: I think the biggest challenge that we need to overcome is the lack of support for the working mother. The New York Times just published an article that surfaced for many people, especially men, the fact that working mothers are juggling so many important and competing priorities. We are told that we can have it all but we lack the infrastructure to actually make "having it all" successful. It is impossible to be the best mother, partner, and employee at the same time without help. Help comes in many forms — from an inclusive and thoughtful workplace to having a partner that is open to truly sharing the demands of home life and child-raising. We can't continue to tell women that they can be mothers and CEOs and volunteers in their community without giving them the necessary and needed support and tools. With support, we would see women contributing in all fields across society, and [conversely] we would see society reaping the huge benefits from having more women across these fields in the workplace.