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How tech can help support women’s mental health

Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.Article by Juliet Bauer, UK Managing Director, Livi

From research to diagnoses, even in 2022 women’s health is often still an afterthought. This is a problem that starts long before the doctor’s surgery, and it has serious implications for individuals and society as a whole. 

Many of these problems are systemic, bound up in the social inequality we see expressed in the gender pay gap, and lack of senior female leaders, especially in healthcare. But they’re not impossible to overcome, and at Kry Livi we are working hard to make healthcare more accessible, fair and equitable.

Kry Livi is Europe’s largest digital healthcare provider, and as a senior leader I feel a personal responsibility to harness the power of digital and improve healthcare for everyone.

By involving thousands of clinicians and hundreds of thousands of patients across the UK, Sweden, Norway, France and Germany, digital healthcare has the potential to effect change on a massive scale.

This year we will boost access to a range of secondary and specialist services, including mental health. Already available in Sweden, we have just launched our Online Therapy service in the UK.

Recent research commissioned by Kry Livi found that almost 50% of people in the UK feel more stressed now than they did before the Covid-19 pandemic. The reasons might not surprise you – work pressure and financial concerns are both among the main stress factors as the cost of living continues to rise.

What was particularly notable is that more women (61%) reported feeling stressed than men (47%), with one in three feeling stress every day. Alongside work and money, concern for friends and relatives was one of the main stressors we identified, perhaps reflecting the extra care burden many women experience.

Long-term stress can make people more susceptible to mental and emotional ill health. For those feeling significant levels of stress every day, it’s important to seek help.

We know that many women find it challenging to carve out the time for in-person appointments, and this is where the flexibility of digital consultations can help improve access, and make it easier for women to get the help they need. Our new Online Therapy service allows patients to receive talking therapy via video consultation at home, at a time that suits them, in a safe and secure online environment.

Of course, it is better that people are not exposed to excessive levels of stress in the first place. Our findings, showing high levels of financial and work-related stress among women, should also make us all reflect on our own workplace culture, and how we can create an environment in which both women and men can thrive and progress.

At Livi we’ve supported managers to remove gendered language from job descriptions, and trained our people to understand and interrupt bias throughout the selection process. We’ve improved representation in our talent pipelines and we know the value of diverse interview panels. And we will continue to educate, and re-engineer processes where necessary to mitigate bias.

We also recognised early on the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on women. Many have been shouldering a greater proportion of parental duties during lockdown, so we provided support to working parents and caregivers to flex their hours and re-prioritise their work.

But we go beyond that. Our managers work with their teams on a one-to-one basis to understand individual circumstances and find the right support solution for each person. This framework is now a formalised way of working – we agree with every employee how and where they can best perform.

As a result, Women represent just over 50% of our upper pay quartile, indicating equal representation at the most senior level. In fact, the data shows that there is a higher proportion of women compared to men across all pay quartiles.

This makes Livi almost unique among tech companies in that our gender pay gap is closed – I mean to keep it that way. We owe it to our patients to ensure our own house is in order, as we harness the power of digital to improve access and make healthcare more equitable.

Juliet Bauer featured

Inspirational Woman: Juliet Bauer | UK Managing Director, Livi

Juliet BauerJuliet Bauer joined LIVI from NHS England, where she was the organisation’s first Chief Digital Officer.

Juliet is a Patient Governor for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and is a founding member for networking group, 10 Digital Ladies. Bauer has led the delivery of technology programmes across many sectors, including leading the Times Newspapers digital transformation. She holds a Masters’ in Business Administration from Columbia Business School.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m UK Managing Director of Livi, Europe’s largest digital healthcare provider. In the UK, we work with the NHS to provide millions of people with digital healthcare services at the touch of a button. Prior to joining Livi, I was NHS England’s Chief Digital Officer, where I overhauled the organisation’s patient-facing digital service like I juggle being a mum to two young children.

My current job combines my knowledge of the UK healthcare system and experience in digital transformation. Livi delivers video consultations to millions of patients – ensuring they get the advice, diagnosis and treatment they need, when they need it.

I’m also a Patient Governor for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

The key points in my career were the decision to do an MBA in the US, the decision to have children and my subsequent move into Healthcare, and then Livi.. Doing the MBA opened my eyes to the amazing global network and took me out of my comfort zone. Having young children alongside a high pressure job helped me understand what I want out of my career. Moving into healthcare gave me the opportunity to work on something I passionately care about and moving to Livi enabled me to combine all those (global, good work life balance, something I really care about).

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Leading change and digital transformation at an organisation like the  NHS was a challenge.  There’s such potential for digital to transform the way we access and deliver healthcare, and my role was to show how it is an essential component to help drive innovation. The opportunity to drive innovation is vital, now more than ever - Covid-19 is making us rethink ways in which healthcare is delivered, and I believe it will accelerate the pace of change towards digital.

Whilst it has been critical to the UK’s response to Covid-19, I believe digital healthcare hasn’t yet gained the recognition it deserves. We’re working hard to raise awareness of the enormous benefits, whilst helping to ensure all patients – wherever they live, whatever their circumstances – can receive equal access to healthcare.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Waking up every day to see thousands of delighted patient reviews gives me huge satisfaction. Working for an organisation that genuinely believes people should be able to easily access healthcare and partners with NHS to achieve that, means a huge amount to me. 5 years ago the NHS saved mine and my daughter’s lives when I had a highly dangerous pregnancy and she was born extremely premature. To be able to work in healthcare as a hospital governor, then CDO of the NHS and now at Livi, is therefore hugely personally rewarding.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in your success?

An absolute belief that without a brilliant and diverse team we will not achieve our goals. In all my roles I have looked to support women in progressing their careers and to increase the diversity of the teams I work with.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in digital healthcare?

You don’t need to know everything, but you do need to know that you don’t know everything and to build a great network and team so support you.

Do you believe there are still barriers to success for women working in the digital space, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Women face barriers in almost all sectors. It doesn’t matter whether you work in healthcare or aviation, the decision to start a family is often a barrier to progression, and the burden of childcare in particular still disproportionately falls on women – very few companies offer equal parental leave policies in this country. Working for a company with HQ in Sweden has helped me understand how things could be better here. Women are more likely to face unconscious bias and be paid less than their male colleagues. From my experience, women are also less likely to negotiate hard for their salaries.

What’s more, women are underrepresented in senior roles, meaning there are fewer people to aspire to. I have had jobs where there were more people on the leadership team called Simon or Matthew than there were women. It's a very complex issue to solve, and requires a number of different elements to come together, but we’re heading in the right direction. As a woman in a senior role, I’m proud to be in the position I am in. But there’s more to do. I’ll always do my best to spearhead change.

What do you think companies can do to support career progress amongst women working in technology?

Companies need to be bolder in helping support women in overcoming barriers and taking the next steps in their careers. Employers must consider all their staff policies and ensure that the business is doing everything to level the playing field between men and women. This can be achieved through means such as parental leave, flexible working or creating mentorship schemes to springboard women into senior positions.

There are currently only 17% of women working in tech. If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry? 

How about free access to coding classes for all, women and men? When I was on bed rest for 5 months in my second pregnancy I did an online coding class and I have now often recommended this to younger women starting out. Regardless of whether you want to be an engineer, a basic understanding for all is very helpful.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech? 

Throughout the last 10 years I have been part of women's networks like 10digitalladies, Onehealthtech or Witsend. They give huge support and learning through the inevitable peaks and troughs of your career.

Where do you envision Livi being in ten years’ time? 

I believe Livi will be at the forefront of a digitally integrated UK healthcare system and widely available to the UK population. Hopefully, we will be playing a central part in transforming the sector. In ten years time I’d like to look back on the constructive role we have played in ensuring that patients have greater access to medical services.

What do you think the best part of working for a digital healthcare company is?

Being part of something that is a lot bigger than just one firm – we’re helping transform the UK healthcare system and putting patients at the centre.  I’ve always found working in the digital sector to be really inspiring – you’re surrounded by innovators and I thoroughly enjoy working in that sort of environment.

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