A small idea can impact millions of lives at any given moment. However, to transform that idea into an innovation, into an actual product, requires leaders with years of dedication and a clear vision for a better future. The executives who have it all can efficiently build and lead a strong, diverse team, focused on converting ideas into actual products that solve the most pressing problems of the current time.
Finding such leaders and getting to know them motivates everyone to support their missions while lauding their success stories. In our quest to find such dedicated and visionary leaders, we came across Karley Yoder, GM & Chief Digital Officer, Ultrasound, at GE HealthCare, who has every trait mentioned above, but more than that, the real trait is that she stands out for her consistent enthusiasm to transform healthcare with technology.
In the following story, we will get to know more about Karley, her career mission, and the revolutionary medical device and technology company, GE HealthCare.
At the Intersection of HealthCare and Technology
Recalling her career journey in the industry, Karley tells us, “I’m getting close to 15 years, but certainly over a decade of being at the intersection of healthcare and technology, and I will spend my entire career trying to leverage the best technology has to offer to move the needle in healthcare innovation. I can’t imagine anything better to be fighting for than better healthcare on a global scale. And it’s what’s brought me to GE HealthCare.”
If one looks at Karley’s professional background, they’re all roles and projects that meet at that intersection point of technology and healthcare. Even back when she was pursuing an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering, she worked on projects at Duke and Stanford with drug delivery and imaging technology advancements.
Karley spent four years working with state governments on their programs in the Medicaid and healthcare exchange spaces, addressing how healthcare needs could be better served within those programs. Prior to this, she spent some time at Doctor On Demand, at the time an early stage startup, and now one of the leading providers in the U.S. She also spent some time at Apple, working to position and improve their products to better address problems within the healthcare space.
On her experience at GE HealthCare, Karley shares, “I came to GE HealthCare in 2016 because I saw this brilliant healthcare company with not just decades (I think we launched our x-ray product over a century ago) but decades upon decades of excellence when it comes to meeting our customers where they are to solve healthcare problems that matter. We’re now coupling that with digital and AI excellence to meet the provider problems they face today and in the foreseeable future.”
“And so, there was an opportunity to bring a skillset I had developed over a decade, plus being at this intersection, and combine it with the deep product excellence and deep customer awareness that GE HealthCare had, and really bring those two pieces together to try to take our products to the next level,” describes Karley.
GE HealthCare: Developing Intelligent Medical Devices
GE HealthCare innovates to meet the needs of healthcare providers, to help solve problems in the diagnostic, therapeutic and monitoring spaces of the precision health journey.
“Creating a world where healthcare has no limits is an awesome thing to get up and fight for every morning,” says Karley. And when one thinks about GE HealthCare’s vision of precision health, which is doing the right thing at the right time for every patient on a global scale, it requires digital DNA flowing through every product that GE HealthCare creates.
“With the growth of artificial intelligence, that means we must be moving toward intelligent products for every solution we bring to market. And specifically, within this role I have today within our ultrasound business, we have to have the best of AI embedded in every product we bring to market, but then also a digital ecosystem that wraps around our devices, that allows our customers to operate at the very top of their licenses to deliver those insights,” explains Karley.
And so, it really comes full circle in how the company thinks about that in the ultrasound world. Karley’s team works with some of the most experienced clinicians in the healthcare sector who have been ultrasound users for decades and helps them do their jobs faster and better with the AI and digital products the company brings to market. “So that’s a super experienced user. But also, ultrasound is starting to move into the hands of folks that are brand new to using ultrasound as care teams start to expand what they are doing at the point of care and with handheld,” mentions Karley.
According to her, it is almost a completely digital story in how GE HealthCare equips these brand new users to be highly effective with the technologies put in their hands. “We get to use digital and AI to not just equip these deep domain experts and have them operate at the top of their license and do the most good they can for their patients, but also these brand new users, which brings new opportunities to the table that we have a chance to be at the forefront of. And that’s a really exciting duality that we get to live within,” highlights Karley.
Driving Precision Care Forward
GE HealthCare is looking to drive precision medicine forward across diagnostics, therapeutics, and monitoring. According to Karley, “GE HealthCare solutions touch the patient’s lives at every step in their healthcare journey, from the diagnostic space, where we’re trying to really understand what is going on with that patient and how to diagnose the right path forward for them, to the therapy side, where we’re continuing to grow and understand how we take the right steps within the healthcare system to address the problem a patient has; to monitoring, which spans all the way from the bedside all the way into the home.”
Views on Technology
Sharing her views on the ongoing technology adoption trend in the healthcare industry, Karley says, “We should never do anything for just technology’s sake.” She explains it further, stating, “So, AI and digital, if we are pursuing them because we want to be at the forefront of technology, we’re approaching this problem the wrong way. I’ve said many times, AI is a technology, but how we need to be thinking about it is as a tool to move us forward in addressing the provider problems that we are trying to solve.”
She adds, “It’s not important for GE HealthCare to be a technology leader for the sake of being a technology leader, but it’s important for us to be a technology leader because harnessing these advances allows us to work toward solving the healthcare problems that are most pressing today.”
Karley believes it is the responsibility of any healthcare company to begin with the provider problem that they’re trying to solve for and then to become deeply proficient in the tools and solutions they can bring to the table to best address those problems. But she notes that, “If we’re ever doing it for the sake of being a technology leader as opposed to technology being one of many tools that we use to solve the problem, we’re approaching that problem backwards.”
Rising Above Challenges
The challenges in the healthcare sector are numerous. From Karley’s point of view, “Being able to solve healthcare problems requires seeing healthcare from multiple different lenses.” And that is part of why, if you look at her career, she says, “I’ve seen healthcare from a research lens in my time working at both Duke and Stanford. I’ve seen healthcare from a payer lens and even how governments interact with healthcare patients. I’ve seen healthcare from a telemedicine lens and from a technology-first company lens from my time at Apple.”
From that experience, Karley says one of the lessons she learned early in her career is that “the more angles you can see a healthcare challenge from, the better equipped you are to be able to think creatively about the types of solutions and products required to not just incrementally move us forward in healthcare, but move us forward in leaps.”
According to her, no one person is going to have that tapestry of experiences, and so she looks to bring diverse experience sets to the table while building her teams as well as connecting with a broader ecosystem of partners. Because, she explains, “it is going to take a multitude of voices and experience sets to really understand a healthcare problem and move it forward. And, not just one industry will be able to do that on their own.”
She continues, “No one company or player, no matter how talented, will be able to go at it alone. Our providers won’t be able to do it on their own. Startups won’t be able to do it on their own. But when you get all these folks threaded together, deep industry knowledge and experience, the voice of clinicians living this on the frontline, and innovators who are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, that’s when I’ve seen magic happen.”
Furthermore, Karley tells us that she is not perfect at this yet and that it will be a career-long journey to keep on improving. But one thing she deeply believes about the healthcare space is that “we need to be constantly challenging assumptions and bringing a broad set of voices to the table to move us forward.”
Practicing the same in her current role, Karley focuses on bringing people together with different experience sets across healthcare, but also different skill sets from just a pure product and technology perspective. She emphasizes that “Building teams with the right experience and the right combination of skills to solve the problems that our providers are bringing to us is a key focus.”
Sharing Guidance with MedTech Aspirants
Offering insights from her career journey as guidance to aspiring young professionals, Karley advises, “I would say be humble and curious. Because the problems we are trying to solve are vast, it’s important to take the time to learn and really understand the voice of the healthcare provider and the voice of the patient. Be humble about the need to constantly hear that voice more clearly, and never think you have your arms fully wrapped around the entirety of the problem. That’s just one aspect of humility and curiosity.”
For anyone considering a future career in healthcare, Karley says, “One, you’re looking at the right place. Healthcare is 20% of the U.S. GDP and something that touches all of our lives. Everyone is a patient. Everyone has a family member who is a patient. So, if you want to be in a space that is going to continue growing rapidly and also has a mission that matters on a personal level, look at healthcare.”
But to equip yourself to be transformative in this space, she recommends that “you be willing to constantly be learning new skills, constantly be learning about new technologies, and constantly be building teams and personal advisory boards who can challenge you on your learning journey.”
Envisioning a Bright Future
When asked what the future of healthcare looks like, Karley says, “It is a virtual one, where as a healthcare provider you are not constrained by just where you are. For example, you are able to take a handheld ultrasound into a primary care setting and be equipped with the insights and knowledge you need at the point of care, but you’re also connected to your colleagues and experts across your domain to help drive the best possible care and practice for patients possible.”
And so, Karley thinks, “it’s this intelligent and connected future that GE HealthCare driving, setting the bar for what this looks like for the rest of the industry.”
When asked about her career mission, Karley responds, saying, “Personally, I plan on spending my career at the intersection of healthcare and technology, and I would always like to be in roles where I believe strongly in the mission and where I have the opportunity to be at the forefront of technological advances, and then pull them back to solve problems that matter.”
Karley believes she has this opportunity right now in her current role. It enables her to work with a brilliant team of innovators, harnessing important advances in AI and digital technologies to solve the problems that most matter to ultrasound providers on a global scale. This is the type of role Karley says she would like to have for the rest of her career. Elaborating further on this, she states, “I think at GE HealthCare, with the scope of problems we’re trying to solve across diagnostics, therapeutics, and monitoring across the entire patient journey, one of the reasons I am here is because we have a never-ending list of those opportunities and challenges ahead of us to meet the changing and evolving needs of providers.”
So, she tells us, “as long as I get to lead a team that’s bound around a mission of advancing patient care by harnessing technology innovation, I’m going to be a very happy camper and be inspired to get up and move the ball forward every day.”
“I think it’s going to take personal humility and curiosity combined with a team of folks with these traits in common to drive the change we need to see in the healthcare space. I’m excited to be at GE HealthCare, because that is what, as a leadership team, we’re striving for, and the bets that we are taking as a company, as we step into our future as a standalone company as well,” she concludes.