Dr. Myriam Fernández Martín, Head of Health Innovation, EMEA, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Dr. Myriam Fernández Martín is a Healthcare Executive and PhD Nurse with more than 20 years of experience in the intersection between healthcare and IT: 12 in Europe and 9 in the USA. She is recognized in the industry as a visionary executive and trusted C-Suite advisor, with a proven track record accelerating healthcare digital transformation. As the Head of Health Innovation for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Dr Fernández is responsible to guide the AWS clients and partners on how to leverage the breadth and depth of AWS cloud services to deliver personalized health in their outcomes-oriented strategies. She has been recently named Most Admired Woman in Digital Health to follow in 2024.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, Dr. Myriam Fernández shared her professional trajectory, insights on the biggest opportunities and obstacles for innovation in the healthcare environment, the best piece of advice she has ever received, the secret mantra behind her success, future plans, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

Hi Dr Myriam Fernández. Please tell us about your background and areas of expertise.

Clinically grounded, I am a registered nurse, I hold a PhD in Health Sciences and Master in Science of Nursing by the University of Alicante and an Executive Certificate in Healthcare Leadership by the University of Missouri.

After spending several years working as a nurse in different positions in hospitals in Spain, I embarked quickly in the intersection of healthcare and IT, first in Spain, with a local healthcare IT company called IT Deusto, and later with Cerner Corporation (now Oracle Health) as the first Spanish associate to join the company in Spain. In this role I expanded my responsibilities across Europe, driving the clinical transformation teams and standing up a strategic growth portfolio. Due to my demonstrated leadership and achievement of results on high speed to growth and profit, I was then asked to relocate to the US in 2013 to stand up the Value Advisory team as a Senior Director with Cerner Corporation. Overall, I had the privilege to work with more than two hundred C-suites worldwide.

In 2022, I came back to Europe as the Head of Health Innovation for Amazon Web Services (AWS) for the EMEA region. I am now responsible to guide the AWS clients and partners on how to leverage the breadth and depth of AWS cloud solutions to deliver personalized health and care in their outcomes-oriented strategies. Applying continuous improvement methods, I advise leaders in making their healthcare digital transformation programs become mechanisms that improve health, operational and financial outcomes.

What is your most favorite aspect of your current role?

Healthcare is facing unprecedented challenges and healthcare organizations, governments, payors, healthcare techs as well as startups are looking for innovative ways to overcome them.

We live longer with more chronic conditions and there is a need and demand for personalized care. Meanwhile, the costs of healthcare continue to rise, the healthcare systems are based on volume rather than value, nearly half of clinical professionals are suffering burnout[1], patient safety remains a challenge and, inequities in health and care continue to grow. All of these, combined with the fact that the healthcare data volume doubles every two years but 97% of goes unused because it is trapped in unstructured formats[2], and that healthcare organizations are a target for cyberattacks, with a growth year over year of 60% of this threat[3], makes the journey to cloud enabled advanced services a key cornerstone for any sustainable, resilient healthcare system strategy.

At AWS we are committed to providing technology that empowers healthcare organizations to deliver high quality, equitable care, and championing the use of our services to elevate the human condition. In my day to day, I have the responsibility to shape the healthcare strategy across the region, guiding AWS clients and partners on how to leverage the breadth and depth of AWS cloud solutions to deliver personalized health and care in their outcomes-oriented initiatives. I am particularly focused on innovation, generative artificial intelligence (generative AI) and continuous improvement methods.

To deliver the services consumers expect, organizations, from providers and payors to healthtechs, need to innovate faster and unlock the potential of data, all while keeping health information secure and private. AWS empowers health organizations to improve outcomes and accelerate the digitalization and utilization of their data with the broadest and deepest portfolio of cloud services, purpose-built industry solutions, and an extensive partner network. This commitment to healthcare was further solidified almost a decade ago when AWS created a dedicated Healthcare and Life Sciences (HCLS) team consisting of healthcare professionals, industry experts, and cloud experts to help create solutions designed specifically for Healthcare’s unique needs. Since then, the AWS HCLS team has collaborated with health organizations across the globe to design and deploy solutions with a unified goal in mind: improving healthcare outcomes while giving customers control over their healthcare IT delivery costs. AWS’ scale, computing power, resiliency, deep expertise in healthcare, and portfolio of purpose-built services has established AWS as the trusted technology and innovation partner to the global health industry.

I love being part of enabling a positive change in healthcare on using technology for good.

Looking more broadly, what are the biggest opportunities and obstacles you see for innovation in the healthcare environment?

Healthcare is a discipline with innovation tied to its core. Clinical innovations have occurred throughout history, continually advancing our ability to treat, prevent and manage complex situations. For example, the first vaccine for smallpox in the 18th century, the measures implemented by Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War at the end of the 19th century to prevent infection and dramatically reduce deaths, the development of antibiotics in the 1920s and the world’s first organ transplant three decades later. However, the 21st century has brought even more progress, with technological advances redefining the healthcare sector.

At AWS we are committed to providing technology that empowers healthcare organizations to deliver high quality, equitable care. Some of the biggest opportunities are around embracing the understanding that technology enables providers and healthcare teams to make health and care better. While this may seem obvious, it is still not broadly accepted. Showing the results of the impact of healthcare transformation though data driven approaches is critical to fill this awareness gap.

The biggest opportunity I see is to build trust in the healthcare sector. For example, it is impossible these days to talk about innovation in healthcare without talking about generative AI. If we look at a clinician trust in generative AI and the extent to which they perceive it to be a helpful decision-making assistant, this will depend on multiple factors such as socio-ethical considerations, technical and design features, user characteristics, and expertise. These are considerations that need to be made whenever approaching a new innovation.

AWS has long believed in and shared our customers’ excitement about the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to transform patient outcomes – from predicting bioactivity in drug discovery to automating complex medical image interpretation. At AWS, we have played a key role in democratizing ML and making it accessible to anyone. As a result, more than 100,000 customers rely on AWS ML services to transform their organizations. Now we’re seeing the vast promise of generative AI in healthcare and life sciences, with the potential to accelerate innovations and increase efficiencies across the care continuum. For example, with generative AI on AWS, customers can predict protein properties, create customized patient engagements, drive unprecedented levels of scientist and clinician productivity, and streamline manual clinical processes to reduce burden. At AWS we are taking the same approach to generative AI as we have done with ML: delivering new innovations to make it easy, cost effective, and practical for healthcare and life sciences organizations to leverage technology in their organizations.

As a clinician, I am a firm believer that technology can be an enabler for good in health and care.

In your opinion, what is the single most important change that will better enable digital transformation in health systems?

The most important change is going to be driven by the consumer of health and care and the need to deliver a personalized experience. In developed regions, we are in the midst of generational change from those who learned to use a mobile phone in their adulthood, to kids who can’t imagine a time without a high-powered computer in their pocket.

Digital should never be the goal, but the means instead. Otherwise, we will continue to face a digital gap for our aging population and a “not being enough” digital for our younger ones. We need to understand the specific characteristics of the person to be able to deliver the best health and care possible. We are moving towards a journey of personalized health which is an emerging approach to healthcare that tailor’s medical treatment and prevention strategies to an individual’s unique characteristics, including their genetic makeup, lifestyle, and environmental factors. The goal of personalized health is to accompany a person in their life journey and provide more effective and targeted therapies, including prevention actions while minimizing adverse reactions and healthcare costs.

The person will drive that change because it will become evident that healthcare cannot continue to be left behind. We are starting to see a shift in the way transformation strategies are approached and this is key to deliver outcomes.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were starting out as an innovator?

I wish some had explained to me from the beginning that the most important thing in anything you want to achieve at work is that you must understand people to understand business. Many of the problems we face today are so large and widespread, no organization can solve them alone. In organizations, innovation involves the collaboration of people and teams with different knowledge, experience and expertise.

For example, at AWS, we have played a key role in democratizing ML and making it accessible to anyone who wants to use it, including more than 100,000 customers of all sizes and industries.

Traditionally, digital transformation projects have been merely IT projects, but when we want to truly transform an organization these projects need to become strategic, multidisciplinary and IT-enabled. This is the first step to see tangible outcomes. The second step would be the understanding that these are truly not “projects” that do not connect, even if they happen in different departments, but a journey instead. The word project has the connotation of “start” and “stop” and innovation should never stop, it should iterate. Lastly, we need to clearly articulate the problem we are aiming to solve, how we are going to measure success, and make sure, as hard as it might be, that measurement occurs. Agreeing on outcomes and making them a north star is a key component to facilitating change. Without understanding the culture and managing the change, improvement will not be seen.

Where do you see digital health moving in the next ten years?

While we generally do not make predictions like this, I’m seeing a lot of promising work happening today that will surely shape the future of healthcare. The transformative influence of technology is pervasive, touching every aspect of our lives and altering the way we live, work, and interact. Revolutionizing work and learning: the way we work is undergoing a seismic shift.

In the healthcare industry this is no different. Technology is and will continue to be immersed in everything we do. The key is to build the journey in a manner that delivers tangible outcomes, helping to build trust such as ensuring responsible AI.

At AWS we build foundation models with responsible AI in mind at each stage of its comprehensive development process. Throughout design, development, deployment, and operations we consider a range of factors including accuracy, fairness, intellectual property and copyright considerations, appropriate usage, toxicity, and privacy. We build solutions to address these issues into our processes for acquiring training data, into the FMs (Foundation Models) themselves, and into the technology that we use to pre-process user prompts and post-process outputs. For all our FMs, we invest actively to improve our features, and to learn from customers as they experiment with new use cases. At AWS, we know that generative AI technology and how it is used will continue to evolve, posing new challenges that will require additional attention and mitigation. Together with academic, industry and government partners, we are committed to the continued development of generative AI in a responsible way.

With the advancements on AI or generative AI there are lot of discussions on the impact on human and what will it mean to us, specifically on healthcare. Emotional intelligence provides human insights and empathy, but AI brings efficiency and analytical capabilities. That is why, in addition to career competencies, those that develop emotional intelligence skills with the learning and competencies of generative AI will be the leaders of the future.

In your academic or work career, were there any mentors who have helped you grow along the way? What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

I have been very fortunate to work with amazing leaders across my career. I have also encountered leaders that have shown me what not to do and I am thankful for both.  Challenge is good, it helps you grow, learn and get out of your comfort zone. Great challenges open great opportunities. You need embrace challenge, learn to surround yourself with talent and passion, and invest time with your team and stakeholders, this would be one of the best lessons I learned.

Change is hard and influencing a culture of innovation requires investment of the leader’s time. You don’t need to have a team to be a leader, you don´t need to have a reporting structure to influence the teams around you.

The combination of understanding the motivation of the people you are working with, investing time in getting to know them, be stubborn in the vision but flexible in the details, support them as people and not only as peers or reports and above all building a safe environment where members trust each other, are critical steps towards building high performing teams. In this last part I always try to “lead by example” and challenge my teams, peers and leaders to do the same.

What are your passions outside of work?

I have and incredible spouse and two amazing daughters which are my number one passion. Spend time with them, enjoying time and sharing their joys, working together through life and pursuing their dreams is where I love to spend my time.

I am also very lucky to have amazing parents that have created a very high bar for me around human values such as integrity, kindness, humility, passion and decidedness’.

Spend some time exercising and listening to music or enjoy time with my extended family and close friends and have fun in “aperitivos”, which is a Spanish tradition of having a small “tapa” before lunch or extending it before night during the weekends are some of my other passions.

I really enjoy travel as well, I do that for work and I love doing it for fun, getting immersed and learning from different cultures helps you incredibly grow as a person and implicitly as a leader.

You have been a recipient of prestigious awards and recognitions over the years, the recent being named as one of the Most Admired Women in Digital Health to follow in 2024. Our readers would love to know the secret mantra behind your success.

Embrace your dreams and find your sense of purpose. If you do not know where you are going, it will be difficult for you to get there. Why are you doing what you are doing? You need to find your passion. Without passion you will be unlikely to succeed. Once you find your passion is easier to ensure dedication and commitment and put in the hard work necessary to excel. I’ve always approached my endeavors with a strong work ethic, a willingness to go the extra mile, and a determination to see tasks through to completion.

Once you find your “why” be ready to do the following every day, it is what I call my day-to-day equation: start by reflecting, set up some time at the start of your day to think first, then prepare yourself and combine it with discipline and flexibility and then do it again, and again.

Be aware you will never be successful alone. Success comes from teamwork and is important to invest time in it.

Also, need to embrace that success is rarely a linear path; it often involves overcoming obstacles, bouncing back from setbacks, and persevering through challenges. My mantra emphasizes resilience, the ability to remain focused, stay positive, and quickly pivot when faced with adversity. This mindset has helped me navigate through difficult situations, learn from failures, and ultimately emerge stronger and more experienced.

Success is the combination of preparation, you have to study, every day, be curious and learn, be disciplined, it is ok to fail, stand up and try again and be flexible, sometimes to get to a certain place you might need to change directions. Opportunities will come, be ready to adjust.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

In the next five years, I see myself continuing to play a pivotal role in driving digital transformation initiatives within the healthcare industry. I look to continue to grow and develop my skills and expertise in responsible healthcare digital transformation. Continue to learn from my colleagues and help others to learn. I will continue to look for opportunities where I can leverage my experience and knowledge to mentor and guide others, fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment that nurtures talent and breeds excellence.

Ultimately, my goal is to contribute to the development of a connected, intelligent, and human-centric healthcare ecosystem. By fostering partnerships with technology companies, research institutions, and healthcare organizations, I aspire to drive innovation that can positively impact lives and shape the future of healthcare delivery.

I’m driven by the desire to make healthcare better today so it can be sustainable for the future.

What is the one piece of advice that you can share with other professionals in your industry?

We are all patients or going to be patients some day in our lives. Making healthcare better is a right and a responsibility of all of us. If you work in healthcare and aim to improve it make sure you are obsessed with making it better, with showing impact on healthcare outcomes and to do that you need to be customer obsessed. In Amazon we aim to be earth’s most customer-centric company and our commitment is to make our customers’ lives easier. We are customer obsessed and this is not just one of our leadership principles, it is true in the way we live our day to day.  This was one of the main drivers that had me join Amazon Web Services. This statement is critical to drive growth, instead of “pushing” things to the market start by understanding what the client needs instead and work backwards from there. This needs to be accompanied by a long term thinking, which is another of our leadership principles, because it might mean that you might “lose a sale” in the short term because maybe at that point what you can offer if that is not what the customer needs, and you need to be ok with that, help recognize it and be transparent because in the long term, to earn the trust of the customer will make you become a key element in their overall journey and opportunities will naturally come.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6367114/
  2. https://healthtechmagazine.net/article/2022/12/ai-healthcare-2023-ml-nlp-more-perfcon
  3. https://www.hipaajournal.com/healthcare-sees-60-yoy-increase-cyberattacks/

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