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Wealth Stream News Exclusive: Dr. Norma Padrón – Trailblazer in Health Economics, Entrepreneurship, and Diversity Advocacy
In the realm of health economics and digital transformation, few individuals shine as brightly as Dr. Norma Padrón. As the Founder and CEO of EmpiricaLab, a company specializing in peer-to-peer training within healthcare organizations, Dr. Padrón has emerged as a trailblazer, driven by a passion for improving the way healthcare teams are trained and share knowledge. Wealth Stream News had an opportunity to learn about Dr. Padrón’s journey.

Educational Background and Leadership Roles
Dr. Padrón's journey to becoming a leading figure in health economics is marked by academic excellence and diverse leadership roles. Holding a Ph.D. in health economics from Yale University, a master's degree in economics from Duke University, a master's degree in public health from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, and a bachelor's degree in economics and math from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, her educational foundation is robust and multi-faceted.

Her extensive career includes leadership positions in academia, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector. Dr. Padrón has spearheaded data analytics and technology teams, focusing on enhancing digital health, care delivery models, and the design of value-based care models. She has also played a pivotal role in quality and performance measurement and training, contributing significantly to the advancement of healthcare practices.

Wealth Stream News asked Dr. Padrón to describe the main milestones, opportunities, and challenges in her journey to date.

“I deeply appreciate the mentors and advocates who have supported me along my path. Achieving higher education was vital, especially coming from a background where my single mother didn't have a college degree. Reflecting on the challenges young people in our country currently face, such as significant student debt and a job market lacking quality, entry-level opportunities, I am convinced that technical training and full degree programs are essential. They offer the necessary flexibility for young individuals to steer their paths toward financial independence and wealth.”

Advancing Diversity in STEM Fields
Beyond her professional accomplishments, Dr. Padrón is committed to advancing diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. Serving on boards dedicated to promoting education and technology, she has been the Chair of the industry advisory board for an NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center focused on improving healthcare through organizational transformation.

A Visionary Approach to Healthcare Training
Dr. Padrón's visionary approach to healthcare training became evident during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Teaching a class during that challenging period, she recognized the lack of effective remote instruction for healthcare professionals. Motivated by her own experience, she founded EmpiricaLab, a platform dedicated to onboarding, training, and upskilling data analytics teams in healthcare.

In a recent fireside chat co-hosted by Duke I&E and the Fuqua Center for Health Sector Management, Dr. Padrón shared insights into her journey and the mission of EmpiricaLab. Highlighting the often-overlooked non-clinical workforce in healthcare, she emphasized the need to invest in their training for the future of work in the industry.

EmpiricaLab's Impact and Future Endeavors
Since its launch in April of 2023, EmpiricaLab has garnered attention and trust from industry professionals. Dr. Padrón's extensive network, including former colleagues from the American Hospital Association, has supported the platform's growth. The company conducted a pilot program with a Philadelphia healthcare system, marking a significant step towards realizing its vision. In addition, EmpiricaLab is part of the Mount Sinai Innovation Partners strategic companies and currently in a commercial agreement with the renowned health system in New York City.

Recognition and Media Coverage
Dr. Padrón's contributions have not gone unnoticed. Articles from esteemed publications, including Duke University and Hispanic Executive, highlight her journey, the founding of EmpiricaLab, and her impact on the healthcare industry. These features underscore her significance as a thought leader and influencer in health economics, entrepreneurship, and diversity advocacy.

Dr. Padron’s definition of wealth:
“Growing up amidst financial instability ingrained in me that true wealth lies in stability and peace of mind. This personal history has been a driving force behind my academic and professional journey. I am deeply committed to exploring how access to healthcare and fostering community well-being is crucial to achieving this stability. In my entrepreneurial endeavors and volunteer efforts, I focus on the pivotal role of human capital elements, such as education and health, in underpinning this stability.”

When asked how she would like her wealth legacy to be remembered, her response is insightful.
“The growth of the Latin community, both in numbers and economic power, presents a unique opportunity to uplift our communities through dedicated time and efforts. I am thankful for groups like the Alumni Society and numerous others that unite us, allowing us to exchange experiences and work collaboratively towards creating and maintaining wealth within our communities. True wealth, in my view, is stability—the capacity to endure challenges and unforeseen events. In achieving this, the role of the community is indispensable. As a proud Latina, I aspire to leave a legacy of paying it forward and contributing to developing strong, resilient communities.”

Dr. Norma Padrón's story is one of resilience, innovation, and a commitment to driving positive change in healthcare. As she continues to lead EmpiricaLab and advocate for diversity in STEM fields, her influence promises to reshape the landscape of healthcare training and digital transformation. Wealth Stream News is honored to spotlight Dr. Padrón's remarkable achievements and the inspiring trajectory she has set, for other Latinas especially.

Dr. Padrón's entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with her dedication to improving healthcare training, positions her as a key player in shaping the future of digital health. She continues to face the realities that women and especially minority women face, with less than two percent of venture capital allocated to women-founded companies. But unfavorable statistics have not stopped her before.
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