Ep 100: Driving Innovation & Technology in Healthcare with Shawna Butler, RN, MBA

We’re celebrating 100 episodes with a fascinating look at the future of health. Shawna Butler, RN, MBA, has been leading the charge towards merging clinical care, technology, and sustainable business models and much of that conversation centers around the true value of nurses. Join us as we learn all about the work and research Butler has been doing, where the industry is headed from a technology standpoint, and what needs to be done to continue moving our profession forward. This show is going to be a celebration and a reflection on an exciting first 100 episodes, and we also have a special message to share with Sharon and Jeremy.

Click the timestamps below to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

On This Episode:

It’s hard to believe we’ve reached 100 episodes. What started as an idea during Charlotte a couple years ago has turned into a show that’s consistently charted among the top medical podcasts in the country. And little did we know how prophetic this show name would be when  Deb Flaherty came up with it for us.

But here we are and we’re so excited to be celebrating this milestone with you.

We have a few things planned for this special edition of the show. As always, we’re talking with a key figure in our industry who’s working hard to improve the profession through technology and policy. We also have a special surprise message for Jeremy and Sharon to kick off the show and voice our appreciation for all they’ve done for this community. And finally, we’ll close out the show with thoughts about the future of the podcast and the goals we have moving forward.

But back to our guest today, which is Shawna Butler, RN, MBA. If you don’t know her yet, Butler is a Nurse Economist and Health Tech Catalyst who also serves as the Managing Director for Exponential Medicine (US) and creator of the EntrepreNURSE-in-Residence role at Radboud University Medical Center (Netherlands).

Her various roles have taken her across the world and given her an unusually broad understanding of systemic health, care, and social challenges, and the impact technology and policy have on people, professionals, and populations. She’s taken this experience and dedicated much of her energy to focusing on the intersection of clinical care, technology, and how do we build sustainable business models. The final piece might be the most important for us to achieve effective health transformation and that’s why she’s so focused on finding solutions.

That brings up this important question that we’ll spend a lot of time on during the show: how do we really think differently about our technology and how to impact our health? Then you can combine that answer with the economic and clinical side of it because every interaction begins and ends with a nurse. Unfortunately, that nurse is the person in the room that isn’t always given their appropriate value.

Through her podcast and the platform she has created, Butler has learned that the vast majority of people don’t have any idea what all nurses do. The view has been narrowed down to caretaker, which is accurate, but they don’t see the innovation, scientists, leaders, and policy-makers. In order to change this, we need to non-nurse champions to recognize the economic value that nurses create.

So what do we need to fundamentally do? Butler believes rewarding health over healthcare is the first step. Once you do that, you start valuing help and the absence of disease, and you begin paying a group of people to do those things.

Policy, as she also explains, is an artificial barrier. So while technology is dramatically changing who is doing what, when and where, it can only go so far as what the policy allows. This line from the show sums it up perfectly: “Technology creates what is possible, but policy dictates what is permissible.”

We’re really excited about sharing this conversation with you and really appreciate the time Butler has given us for this special episode.

Keep an ear out for a variety of topics related to healthcare and technology, including these:

  • Why this topic is so important right now for the future of the industry
  • A sustainable business model is essential
  • What can we do to increase the value of nurses
  • How she uses her podcast to push the global EntrepreNURSE movement.
  • Helping change the way nurses are perceived
  • Ways to get policy changes and our voices heard
  • Examples of how nurses are innovating today
  • Key issues that nurses are focused on right now
  • The ways technology is impacting nursing
  • How to get nurses to view challenges differently by understanding the technology
  • Giving nurses the training to become entrepreneurs

Check it out the interview at the top of the page and use the timestamps to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

[0:36] – Celebrating 100 episodes with a surprise

[6:36] – Sharon & Jeremy look back on 100 episodes

[8:38] – Welcoming in our guest today

[9:29] – Background on Butler’s health and tech background

[12:27] – Money is the root of many issues

[14:57] – We don’t quantify nursing

[22:24] – What her podcast is all about

[30:22] – How to get policy changes to push nurses forward

[35:38] – Examples of what nurses are doing now to innovate

[41:58] – How is technology changing nursing? 

[49:07] – Changing the way nurses view the problems we face.

[55:11] – How to get nurses the business training to become an entrepreneur

[1:02:03] – A 100th episode request for Butler

[1:03:33] – What does the future hold for the podcast?

[1:07:27] – A final, inspirational message from Butler


“You name it, if there’s a problem out there, there are nurses who have researched it, are working on it, innovating it, and solving it in some really creative ways.”

-Shawna Butler, RN, MBA

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