Agnes Berzsenyi is the President and CEO, Women's Health, GE Healthcare. She's responsible for driving the strategic and commercial direction for the women's health portfolio, including mammography and bone densitometry. She is focused on commercial growth, customer collaboration, ensuring the right investment decisions and other strategic programs.
Prior to this role, Berzsenyi was the Formation Leader for GE Healthcare Imaging, an $8 B business including services and a portfolio of X-Ray, Women's Health, Interventional, Surgical C-arms, CT, Nuclear Medicine, MR products, and PET. She served as the leader to bring together these businesses under one strategic vision and direction. She is the Executive Sponsor for GE Girls, a company-wide program to engage middle school girls in STEM education. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
She was recently recognized with a career achievement award from Rose-Hulman. In 2016, Berzsenyi was named a “Woman of Influence" by the Milwaukee Business Journal and was included in the “Women to Watch" list by The Business Journal, an honor reserved for the top 100 business leaders throughout the country. She was born in Mateszalka, Hungary and holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Product Engineering and Management from the University of Magdeburg, Germany, and a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, USA.
GE Healthcare's new system for mammography creates a better way to detect and attack breast cancer. Designed by a team of women just outside Paris, where most of the design and manufacturing for GE Healthcare's mammography systems is done, the new mammography system will make mammography less uncomfortable and reduce patients' anxiety, with the hopes that more women will get mammograms.
Unlike the clunky, industrial mammography machines of the past, the Senographe Pristina comes with the option for patients to use a wireless remote control that lets them determine how much their breasts are compressed during the scan, with the help of a technologist. This was just approved for use in the United States, in September. Compressing the breasts spreads tissue, resulting in better images and requiring less radiation, an industry first: remote-control managed by the patient.
Agnes Berzsenyi took the time to address questions about the concerns and trepidations of breast cancer screening and detection with SWAAY, and how the Senographe Pristina will help to transform what is too often an anxiety-inducing quandary into an almost spa-like experience:
How will the new system for mammography, designed by a team of women outside of Paris, impact the mammography experience?
Regular mammograms are a critical tool in detecting breast cancer, In fact, evidence shows that finding breast cancer early reduces a woman's risk of dying from the disease by 25-30 percent or more.
Any patient who has ever had a mammogram knows that it can be uncomfortable. We know that one-in-four patients avoid getting mammograms because of the fear and anxiety from the potential result and exam discomfort.
The choice can delay a breast cancer diagnosis negatively impacting their long-term prognosis. Our hope is that by giving women a more active role in their healthcare, coupled with creating a more comfortable mammography experience, we will encourage more women to be compliant with screening guidelines and help improve outcomes for breast cancer screening.
Only 69 percent of women 45 years and older reported having a mammogram within the past two years in 2013, according to the National Health Interview Survey, and according to The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. every 74 seconds, somewhere in the world, someone dies from breast cancer. Might the Senographe Pristina change that?
We do know that one in four women avoid getting mammograms because of the fear and anxiety from the potential result and exam discomfort. The choice can delay a breast cancer diagnosis and impact a long-term prognosis. That's why we brought Senographe Pristina and a more comfortable mammography experience to market. Senographe Pristina and Pristina Dueta have been available in Europe for more than a year. In a patient survey done in Europe with 315 women, when patients received a mammogram on Senographe Pristina while using the Pristina Dueta, 79 percent of the patients who used the patient-assisted compression device found it improved the comfort of their exam, and 54 percent found it led to less anxiety. But even without Dueta, 83 percent of patients scanned on the Senographe Pristina rated their experience as better than with traditional mammography systems, 70 percent noted it was more comfortable and 66 percent perceived the exam was shorter.
How might the Senographe Pristina empower patients and attract, specifically women over 45, to obtain a mammogram?
We developed the Senographe Pristina with insight from thousands of patients, technologists and radiologists. Patients are responding very well to the Senographe Pristina and Pristina Dueta. We're even getting feedback from radiologists and technologists that their patients will only schedule their annual mammogram on the Pristina moving forward. Improving the patient experience has become a major trend in healthcare. Healthcare is a competitive industry and by improving the patient experience, we hope to help healthcare providers get more patients in the door.
How long did it take for the new mammography system to reach the market?
How much market share, in the U.S., does GE estimate that the new system will achieve?
We do not disclose our market share, but we've seen tremendous interest in the Senographe Pristina and the patient-assisted compression device, Pristina Dueta, since it was recently FDA cleared. We launched the Senographe Pristina in November 2016 and have doubled shares for the first two quarters.
How often do GE's customers-hospitals, healthcare centers-replace their mammography systems? What's the cost to purchase the new Senographe Pristina?
The average replacement life cycle for Senographe Pristina is 7 to 10 years. We do not share the cost of the product as configurations vary greatly, affecting the price. Depending on the configuration, it can range from $300,000 to $500,000.
What makes the Senographe Pristina system different from previous mammography systems?
Senographe Pristina was designed by a team of women at GE Healthcare who used their unique insights as women, combined with feedback from patients, technologists and radiologists, to design a new, more comfortable mammography system-one that they would want to be scanned on. The new system offers comfort features for a better patient and technologist experience, including: rounded corners instead of sharp edges that used to poke patients' ribs and armpits; a thinner image detector that requires less hard, cold material touching the patient; and comfortable armrests for women to lean on instead of conventional handgrips, naturally creating a more relaxed body and less muscle tension during the exam. All of these features simplify positioning, compression and image acquisition.
Additionally, it offers the option for patients to use the industry's first wireless remote control that lets patients control their own breast compression during a mammogram with the help of a technologist. First, the technologist positions the patient and initiates compression. From there, the patient, under the supervision of the technologist, operates the remote to adjust compression until she reaches adequate compression.
This remote helps to reduce discomfort during the exam, thus addressing one of the main concerns women have for avoiding mammography screening. We've also designed the rooms (sensory suite) to resemble spas: soothing natural images, scents and sounds that are pleasant, which help to further positively enhance the mammography experience.
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.