President & CEO, Coastal Health

30-sAge: 55 | First Appearance Mary Ackenhusen began her career as an industrial engineer before completing an MBA at Harvard Business School. In 2014 she was named Vancouver Coastal Health’s president and CEO, in no small part because she could see opportunities where others saw hopeless contradictions. “My selling point,” she recalls, “which I think resonated, was my passion and courage to work aggressively to make our current public healthcare system sustainable in the face of increasing demand and stagnant budgets.” As the demographic bulge of aging baby boomers strained the healthcare system, her white whale became the Clinical & Systems Transformation (CST)—a single electronic health record, accessible to clinicians and patients anytime, anywhere. “This is an essential building block of modern healthcare that we have not yet achieved,” she says. “We must do so, and soon.” The mega-IT project Ackenhusen inherited, reported to cost $842 million, had, as she puts it, “gone off the rails.” Her team parted ways with IBM and, engaging Coastal Health’s 15,000 employees and more than 2,000 physicians, relaunched an initiative to design a viable system. “My goal is to make sure that our system is still working for all of us in 10 years.”

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