Champions in Health Care — Colleen Adams

To mark International Women’s Day 2021 on March 8, and throughout the month of March, we are honouring the women who help lead Medavie in our mission to improve the wellbeing of Canadians.

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Colleen Adams, Manager Health & Digital Product Solutions, Medavie Blue Cross

As a leader, what would you say contributed to your success?

I’ve been fortunate to have experiences with strong and poor leadership styles in my career where both have contributed to my success. On one side, strong leadership helps shape who you want to be as a leader, and on the other, poor leadership helps shape who you don’t want to be — which is just as important.

How do you feel your role is helping you contribute to improving health care?

My role enables me to bring innovative and effective digital health solutions (including Online Doctors, Virtual Physiotherapy and Digital Therapy) to Medavie Blue Cross members. These solutions enhance access to care, give members choice and ultimately help improve health outcomes.

What is your favourite part about your role?

I get to transform ideas into solutions. Medavie Blue Cross not only values innovative thinking — we embrace it.

How do you achieve work-life balance? What is your best self-care advice?

It can be very easy to get caught up in work, especially when it’s something that drives you. That said, it is important to know when to step away. Balance is a key ingredient to maintaining a healthy relationship with work and to being your best self. For me, self-care means blocking time for you to do things that make you happy. Whether that’s yoga, doing a puzzle or a little retail therapy. I choose things that renew my energy and make me smile.

What barriers do women still face in advancing their careers?

Women still need to push a little bit harder and speak a little bit louder. I encourage all women to find their voice, share their ideas and not be afraid to stand out.

What advice would you share with young women looking to advance their career?

I encourage young women to find a good female mentor. Someone whose career you admire, someone you respect professionally and someone you enjoy personally. One piece of advice I was told early on, which I still follow today, is “Don’t ask permission.” This doesn’t mean break the rules; it means you do not need validation to share your ideas or to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

“My role enables me to bring innovative and effective digital health solutions to Medavie Blue Cross members. These solutions enhance access to care, give members choice and ultimately help improve health outcomes.”

Where is health care headed?

The future of health care is exciting — from personalized medicine and virtual care to health navigation. Science and technology are fueling advancements in care at a rapid pace. We are seeing digital health solutions break down barriers to treatment, eliminate geographical constraints and reduce costs. We are seeing AI transform member care into a highly personalized experience. These advancements are going to do big things in terms of prevention, treatment, and navigation all along the health continuum.

What’s the biggest change you would like to see in the health care system?

I would like to see faster development and adoption of standards for digital health solutions and electronic medical records. This will ensure adherence to patient privacy protocols, optimize patient treatment, and promote seamless health care navigation. We’ll get there!

What do you do to stay on top of your game?

I stay connected and I continue to be curious.

What qualities does it take to succeed?

To me, the most important quality to succeed is passion for what you’re doing. You have to be the ambassador for the goals you’re looking to accomplish. Passion is contagious and it can move mountains. You also have to be ready to make mistakes and to be ok with that. Mistakes fuel learning and learning fuels the next great idea. Always look for the opportunity and don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.

Tell us one fun fact about you.

I love alpacas. It is impossible not to smile when there is one around.

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Medavie is a health company that oversees Medavie Blue Cross and Medavie Health Services. Together, we’re bringing Canadians better health and access to care.