Editor’s note: This story is part of our 2022 PharmaVoice 100 feature.
Ann Barnes is devoted to breaking barriers for women and people of color in health IT while improving patients’ lives at the same time. It’s this drive to disrupt the status quo that’s helping the company she leads, Intelligent Medical Objects (IMO), to grow from strength to strength.
Since joining IMO, a company that uses technology to address clinical terminology, streamline patient data, and leverage analytics to improve healthcare delivery, Barnes has created a product roadmap to advance health IT into the future. Nominators say it’s an approach that’s paid off since she took the helm in 2018, noting that under her leadership the company has grown from $200 million in value to $1.6 billion.
“Healthcare touches everyone,” Barnes says. “I love that what we are doing makes a difference, and the products we build have the ability to have an impact on people’s lives — both the doctors delivering care and the patients receiving it. There is so much opportunity to continue to evolve and improve.”
As a Hispanic woman and influential leader in health IT, one of her nominators says Barnes was “acutely aware that she needed to be intentional with how she built her executive team, and she remains committed to challenging the norm when it comes to the employees who IMO hires.”
“I hire really good people who are experts at what they do and then let them thrive.”
CEO, Intelligent Medical Objects
With a predominantly female leadership team in place — chief operating officer, chief financial officer and chief growth officer — Barnes actively encourages diversity hires across the board. Team members say her commitment to a diverse workplace includes an employee-led initiative called the “Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness Society,” which has helped create a culture where employees feel “valued and safe.”
Outside IMO, Barnes is actively engaged in forums to promote the importance of advancing women in health IT, and as a member of Break into the Boardroom, a program focused on matching qualified women in healthcare with board-level positions, she’s pushing others in the industry to do the same.
Here, she discusses her strategies for promoting a diverse workplace and the leadership challenge keeping her up at night.
PharmaVoice: What leadership skill have you honed over the past two years?
Ann Barnes: I learned how to be more intentional with my actions both at work and at home. What I am passionate about is creating more opportunities for women leaders at my company and in the industry. I think about that in everything I do, from requiring that 50% of the resumes I see for spots on my team are from women, having a leadership team that is diverse and inclusive, or bringing an all-female team to an important meeting. To make meaningful change, you must look closely at what you do, not just what you say.
How are you paying your success forward?
I am a big believer in mentorship and spend time mentoring women inside and outside of my organization. Taking the time to coach and support young, smart women is rewarding and helps the overall environment.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I hire really good people who are experts at what they do and then let them thrive. My job is to help them succeed by providing help where they need it. I also value spending time with employees at all levels of this business. I regularly hold mini-town hall style meetings with small groups to interact and hear directly from our people about issues and pain points they might be facing.
What keeps you up at night?
One of the challenges facing leaders right now is navigating an office culture that has changed so much since the pandemic. We don’t want to lose the benefits of in-person interactions, but we also need to respect that how people work has changed. We want our people to believe in what we do and feel a connection to our company, which can be more challenging in a mostly remote world.
What is your leadership advice to inspire others?
Just Be. Be Intentional, be real, be passionate, be a learner, be humble, be a light completed. Positive inspirational quotes remind me to focus on making the most of all my situations and continuing to have the courage to take risks and learn.