An Interview with Tisha Boatman

Tisha Boatman

The Senior Vice President, Global Access to Care, at Siemens Healthineers discusses her company’s new partnership with the Movement Health Foundation, what Siemens Healthineers can bring to the table, and how her own experience of breast cancer has shaped her views on healthcare There aren’t too many healthcare professionals that can claim to have started their journey at West Point, the United States Military Academy. But for Tisha Boatman, life in the military provided her with an otherwise unaffordable top-tier education and a lifelong commitment to service and leadership. ‘I knew from the moment I went there that I wanted to work globally, I wanted to work cross-border, and I wanted to interact with different cultures. And it definitely embedded in me this idea of serving something bigger than yourself.’ More practically, the US Army gave her a fantastic grounding in logistics, ‘everything from water purification to warehousing’, which has been invaluable in understanding the numerous complex challenges that face global health systems today. I’m speaking to Tisha about a week after the Siemens Healthineers partnership with Movement Health was formally inaugurated at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, which also saw the official launch of Movement Health as a Foundation. According to Tisha, the partnership process ‘took a good four or five months’ after the initial approach, a process of learning about Movement Health’s mission and the initiatives it is undertaking. ‘At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if it's a well-funded health system or a health system that's just being built. They all face a shortage of skilled manpower. There are not enough doctors, not enough radiologists, not enough lab technicians, not enough people graduating and coming into the field. So we have to apply AI and digitalisation and different forms of automation to get more healthcare to more people with fewer resources, or with the same resources. That’s just a fact. The problem isn’t solvable without addressing that topic.’ This skills shortage has an impact on the whole issue of patient-centric healthcare, which Movement Health sees as crucial for improving outcomes. As Tisha points out, ‘A one-to-one doctor-patient approach to healthcare is great, but it's not very realistic for much of the world where there's a significant shortage of medical professionals.’ This is where quality diagnostics can play a key role. Siemens Healthineers, one of the largest med-tech players in the world, is also the only company that has both laboratory and imaging diagnostics, which can help get patients onto the right treatment path as quickly as possible. ‘A knowledge of complex diagnosis is something we feel we can bring to Movement Health, combined with digital solutions to get patients onto the right clinical pathway. Personalised medicine is all about understanding the complexity of each patient and the disease, then identifying the right treatment. A lot of information is required for that, but once you have it, patients can be treated appropriately and with better outcomes. And, of course, catching a disease earlier is economically more viable than treating it at a later stage.’ For Tisha, this issue has a personal significance as a breast-cancer survivor. Undergoing treatment in Denmark, a country with a unified health system and national patient records, she nevertheless found herself dealing with two different hospitals that lacked effective coordination. It was an experience that led directly to her interest in access to care. ‘I really wanted to focus on expanding access to care to high quality healthcare. I knew the company well, I knew the different challenges and I knew how to drive change in organizations. I enjoyed my previous role heading the Nordic countries, but I just felt that it would allow me to serve patients even more than I had so far in my career.’ Tisha’s overarching mission is for patients to ‘live without fear of cancer’, specifically breast cancer, which is still the number one cancer killer of women around the world. Prior to being diagnosed, Tisha had never been a patient of any kind. Apart from the birth of her two children, she had never been in a hospital and had no family history of breast cancer.