Healthcare Technology Report Names Ascom Americas' Executive Top Woman Leader in Medical Devices : A Look Inside Ascom’s Transformation

January 25, 2022

Recently, Healthcare Technology Report (HTR) named Kelly Feist, Managing Director, Ascom Americas, as one of its top 25 Women Leaders in Medical Devices for 2022.  As the top executive for Ascom Americas, HTR chose her for her work transforming Ascom from a product-led to a solutions-first company, noting her performance driving sales, overall operations, and profitability of the business in North America. We talked with Feist about the challenges of pivoting a business and the added complexity COVID has created, her advice for business leaders, and what’s next in the digitization of healthcare. 

Q. Ascom has been on a transformation journey from products to solutions. What are the challenges of evolving the business?

A. One of the first challenges was getting the organization to understand the change, the vision behind it, and how we want to move forward. Change makes many people nervous, so it’s important to explain what the change means to the company and to individuals’ jobs. After getting people onboard with the pivot, we had to consider whether we had the skillsets needed for this evolution. We had to make some difficult decisions about whether to train people to get them to where we needed them to be or to bring in talent in from the outside that already had that skillset. There’s a delicate balance around how you manage your existing team and how you build your new team.

Next, we looked at the operational challenges around delivering an experience a customer expects of a solutions’ company. We learned and improved as we focused on meeting the expectations of a new set of stakeholders and a different space within the market.

Q. How has COVID impacted Ascom’s business in North Americas?

A. In some ways it’s accelerated us, and in some ways, it’s made it a little harder to operate. With COVID we had to figure out how to manage our business with people working remotely in the beginning and even today with new variants keeping people out of the office.  The follow-on impacts of supply chain constraints have created a more difficult environment for delivering hardware to our customers. However, this limitation has increased our focus on what can we deliver – software, solutions, and services.

COVID has also accelerated a recognition amongst clinicians about the importance of solutions and support, workflows, communication, and collaboration. Given staffing shortages at hospitals and the need to treat patients with minimal contact, clinical collaboration and communication is no longer a nice to have – it’s a necessity – for care provider efficiency and satisfaction as well as quality of patient care.

Q. What advice do you have to share with other women business leaders?

A. Be brave. Have the courage to speak up in meetings and push back when it’s something you don’t agree with or feel is detrimental to the business. Lean in, use your voice, and be heard. When opportunities come your way, seize the moment, even if you feel you’re not quite qualified yet, seize the moment anyway. You will learn a lot through the process and will build the skills that will serve you in the future as you advance.

Q. What does it mean to you to be part of Healthcare Technology Report’s class of top 25 women leads in medical devices?

A. It was an unexpected honor. While I’m trying to turn around a business so we can to improve our customers’ communication and collaboration workflows, I’m humbled by the phenomenal things many of these women being honored have done for society. I’m honored to be part of the group.

Q. What’s next for healthcare tech and Ascom?

A. Now that some of the big advancements in imaging and electronic medical records are universal, we’ve got to solve for how we use technology to benefit the care providers and the patient. That’s right in our wheelhouse of improving workflows, collaboration, and communications. Only a small percentage of hospitals in the U.S. have implemented these kinds of solutions in a holistic way, and we’re in a unique position to tie it all together for them. I’m excited about that opportunity to make a big impact in helping our customers design the way they provide care.

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