December 21, 2021

Looking back on a successful year and forward to an even better one

Sheila Talton

Looking back on a successful year and forward to an even better one

As we look ahead to an exciting new year, we at Gray Matter Analytics also are reflecting on a very successful 2021. We had several significant customer wins over the past year, including a three-year contract with a large health system in the Midwest.

Gray Matter also has continued to attract investors who see the transformative potential of our Analytics as a Service platform for healthcare organizations. Our real-time analytical insights enable the healthcare community to improve patient outcomes while reducing costs in a value-based care environment.

As CEO, I am proud not only of our team’s dedication and accomplishments but of its diversity. Throughout my professional career, from my roles at large corporations to the founding of startups, I have made team diversity and inclusion a priority – not merely to meet arbitrary quotas or internal mandates, but because I believe 1) diversity is a strength in any organization and 2) casting the widest net possible for talent simply is smart business.

On a personal level, I am honored to recently have been named by Crain’s Chicago Business to its list of Crain’s 2021 Notable Black Leaders and Executives. I am not an award-seeker, but to be mentioned in the company as some of the best leaders in the Chicago area and elsewhere truly is humbling. I am grateful to have been chosen.

I am particularly pleased that in selecting leaders for its list, Crain’s considered not just the business success of nominees, but their commitment to diversity, inclusion and involvement in the community. Just as I have made it a focus in my career to cultivate diverse teams, I always have believed deeply that the best leaders must both give back to and draw strength from their communities.

I am a member of the Chicago Urban League, which works to achieve equity for Black families and communities through social and economic empowerment. I serve on the board of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which introduces students to the playwright’s works in schools and prepares them to perform abridged Shakespeare plays. I am actively involved in Margaret’s Village, a women and children’s center on the city’s South Side. And I tutor in an after-school program at Lawndale Community Church on the West Side.

Staying involved in the community allows business leaders to serve as role models while playing a tangible role in addressing challenges and creating opportunities. Many of those challenges are rooted in social determinants of health (SDoH), real-life factors such as income and education level, race and ethnicity, housing, job opportunities, neighborhood safety, food insecurity and access to affordable healthcare.

It’s no surprise that SDoH can widen health inequity. Removing systemic barriers to healthcare access for historically underserved population will take collaboration on the community level. It is a lot of work, but it is work that must be done.

Achieving health equity also will take innovation from the private sector. Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics are being used to help providers and payors gain insights into patients that result in better health and wellness outcomes and lower costs of care.

Which gets back to the fundamental mission of Gray Matter Analytics. The pandemic made explicit the sad realities of race- and income-based disparities in U.S. healthcare. But for me, COVID also confirmed that Gray Matter has the programs necessary to support quality care for all. We intend to be part of the solution in 2022 and beyond.