An Interview with 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.

Being a large medtech company, we’ve been asked to join a lot of Foundations and contribute to a number of organizations, but we’re very careful about where we go. We want to focus on initiatives that fit our strengths and where we can add value, and that’s what we found with Movement Health.

Tisha Boatman
Siemens Healthineers, Senior Vice President

For Siemens Healthineers, the appeal of Movement Health is its ‘industry centric approach’— meaning that Movement Health is actively looking for partners from specific industries that can contribute to the scalability of healthcare.

‘That concept is very important for us. There are a lot of pilot projects around the world and often they don't scale because they don't start out with that perspective. Certainly with Movement Health’s other partners, such as Roche Pharma and Microsoft, you have large companies who understand complex rollouts and how to deliver on a scalable basis, so that is definitely part of the appeal for us.’

There’s no doubt that scaling up innovative solutions is going to be a vital part of tackling today’s health challenges. When asked about these challenges, Tisha points to the obvious problem of funding (‘healthcare is expensive and reducing costs isn’t easy’), but she’s also keen to highlight the ‘huge issue’ of workforce shortages.

‘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. 

‘And then, all of a sudden, in April of 2020, I'm a patient navigating a complex treatment process that took nearly a year to complete. I never thought it would happen to me. But what I learned is that breast cancer has a high mortality rate if caught late, around stage three or four. I caught my cancer at stage two, but there’s still a fairly high chance of recurrence. And when it comes back, it often comes back in the brain, the lungs or the long bones of the arms and legs. By definition, it’s metastatic cancer. So when I think about living without fear of cancer, that’s essentially what I do every day. I know it could come back, but I'm not going to sit around waiting for it.’

Tisha Boatman
Siemens Healthineers, Senior Vice President

This desire ‘to bring the same level of confidence to patients that currently don't have that confidence’ is what drives Tisha—and Siemens Healthineers—to improve access to cancer screening across the board.

‘At first, I didn't realise how big a deal breast cancer would be, because Siemens Healthineers offers healthcare solutions in many areas, particularly around oncology and cardiovascular diseases. But breast cancer kept coming up as an issue in every region we work in with Access to Care. Often, these health systems don't have the opportunity to catch cancers early because there is no cancer diagnosis or screening programme in their country. So that’s ended up being a major topic.’

The alignment with Movement Health, she hopes, will ultimately help providers take care of more patients more efficiently, allowing more people to live healthy lives. ‘‘I think COVID-19 reinforced the idea that the world should work together to solve health challenges. If I can contribute in any way to that, it's a huge honour for me.’

If you feel you or your company can play a meaningful role in Movement Health’s mission, we’d love to hear from you. For more information on how to join us, please visit our partners page.