5 Key Trends in Digital Health for 2021—and 10 Companies to Watch

5 Key Trends in Digital Health for 2021—and 10 Companies to Watch

2020 was a challenging year for so many of us. Yet in searching for the silver linings, we’ve noticed a couple of things that stand out. Firstly, the pandemic has brought science and healthcare to the forefront of nearly every conversation. Secondly, it has demonstrated that many of the longstanding gaps in our current healthcare system can be addressed through digital health.

Healthcare has historically lagged behind many other industries in the adoption of digital solutions. Many such solutions have existed for the last decade and yet it had been a struggle to integrate them into mainstream health systems. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people unwilling or unable to leave their homes for critical healthcare services, has resulted in rapid adoption of many of these digital health technologies.

Here are five key digital health trends that we see continuing in 2021 and beyond—plus a snapshot of ten companies to keep an eye on.

1. Continued innovative solutions for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in late 2019, it quickly became apparent how unprepared we were to handle it. Many digital health companies with technology solutions for similar applications in adjacent industries rapidly pivoted to COVID-19 testing, monitoring, and surveillance solutions. To date, the FDA has authorized 309 tests and sample collection devices.

We see this trend continuing as digital companies try to make testing faster, cheaper, and more accessible so we can bring our lives back to normal and re-open our schools and workplaces. In a post-COVID-19 world, many of these companies are likely to expand their applications to address other infectious diseases.

Some notable companies in this area are:

  • Mesa Biotech Founded by Hong Cai and Bruce Cary, Mesa Biotech is developing a portable polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing device designed to yield rapid results in just 30 minutes. The device is intended to be used outside of the lab setting and to bring testing for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases closer to the consumer—to their workplaces, schools, and even one day their homes.
  • Clear Labs Founded by Sasan Amini, the company has built a fully automated platform that simultaneously screens for and sequences the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus in under 24 hours. This has major implications for monitoring and surveillance applications, particularly now when we are seeing novel mutated strains of the virus emerge.

2. The expansion of telemedicine and virtual care services

Telemedicine solutions have existed for many years prior to the pandemic, but widespread adoption was relatively limited due to patient and physician resistance, privacy issues, and a reluctance by payors to reimburse, other than in a few exceptional circumstances for reaching rural and underserved areas.

However, COVID-19 created an urgent need for telemedicine services as elective visits were cancelled and clinicians were no longer able to see patients in person. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in late March 2020 telehealth visits jumped from 10,000 per week to 300,000 per week. While those numbers are expected to come down after the pandemic, it is clear that for many clinical areas, the convenience and simplicity of accessing a healthcare provider from the comfort of your couch is something that both physicians and patients are now seeing the benefits of.

As a response to the pandemic, the CMS in March issued a waiver to extend coverage to telemedicine services. On Dec. 2, 2020, CMS Released its Final Policy, Payment, and Quality Provisions Changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for Calendar Year 2021, showing roughly 60 new telehealth services expected to be reimbursed by Medicaid. And Teladoc’s $18.5B acquisition of Livongo provided further validation that telemedicine is here to stay.

One note of caution: While telehealth has many advantages for clinicians, patients, and potentially payors, more widespread adoption will also require a massive overhaul of our health system. Furthermore, we must be able to deliver care to patients through the channels that are most appropriate for them. For example, for seniors who may not be technologically savvy or for those without access to good internet or streaming devices—how do we ensure they don’t get left behind and we don’t widen gaps in access to care? This was one of the fascinating topics discussed at the Social Determinants of Health in the Virtual Care Setting webinar that we hosted last year at MDisrupt.

Some notable telehealth companies we would like to highlight:

  • Dr Consulta, founded by Thomas Srougi. It’s a Brazil-based digital health company using telemedicine to increase access to primary care and some secondary care services for some of the poorest people in Brazil. The company has raised $100M and provides a virtual clinic and diagnostic services delivered by telemedicine. We highlight Dr Consulta as an example of how telehealth can be used to close gaps in access to care in underserved populations.
  • Genome Medical, co-founded by Lisa Alderson, is a US-based nationwide genetic medical practice which delivers its services via telemedicine. Often when people think about telehealth, they think about applications in primary care. We highlight Genome Medical as an example of a specialized telemedicine clinical service. In the US, there are fewer than 6,000 genetic experts available to serve 330 million people. Genome Medical makes genetic health services accessible to everyone through on-demand access to its genetic experts.

3. Increased demand for at-home testing

Consumer genetics giant 23andMe first brought lab testing into the home. The company demonstrated not only that consumers had an appetite to access health information about themselves, but that they were willing to pay for it directly and could effectively collect a sample at home and ship it to a lab.

Throughout the pandemic, we have seen states struggle to deliver COVID-19 testing efficiently. They have faced challenges with test availability and distribution as well as long turnaround times. And as we see new surges in infection rates, these problems have worsened. Furthermore, as many people have been reluctant to leave their homes and wait in long lines for testing, we’ve seen a new demand for at-home tests.

Here we highlight:

  • Everlywell Founded by Julia Cheek, Everlywell is a digital health company delivering at-home lab testing for consumers, including tests for food sensitivity and HbA1c.
    Back in March, Everlywell began working with its lab partners and the FDA to create an at-home COVID-19 test. In May, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization, making Everlywell’s test the first stand-alone at-home sample collection kit for COVID-19. Everlywell has now sold over half a million tests, validating both consumer demand for at-home testing and consumer willingness to self-pay for diagnostic testing. In November, Everlywell raised $175M to expand its consumer lab testing and digital health offerings.

And if we can do at-home testing for COVID-19—why not all other types of lab tests? Of course, these tests may take longer to develop. But we believe that digital health companies who take the right steps in consumerizing and democratizing access to healthcare services responsibly are here to stay.

What are the right steps? Digital health companies need to be willing to:

  • follow the appropriate regulatory paths
  • conduct the necessary studies and generate the evidence to show that their tests work
  • deliver incredible consumer health experiences that simplify access to health information, and
  • engage and empower individuals and their care teams with accurate health data.

4. Addressing gaps in health disparities

In 2020, both COVID-19 and the death of George Floyd turned the spotlight onto racial injustices and health disparities. Many articles and studies have shown that digital health products are being built with inherent biases and are not serving important segments of the population. The problems range from wearables not being built to accurately detect the heart rates of people with darker skins to genetic databases being developed primarily based on the genomes of Caucasian populations to algorithms being built with inherent racial biases that impact how health services are delivered and who gets them.

Furthermore, at the 2020 Rock Health Summit, a large part of the discussion was about how digital health investors tend to only invest in founders they relate to and problems they’re familiar with. Yet by widening the lens to consider a broader range of people and their needs, these investors could make bigger returns by solving health problems that impact larger segments of the population.

Fortunately, there is a new breed of investor emerging who wants to invest in minority founders. With that, we will see more companies working to close gaps in health disparities. This extends beyond racial disparities and into areas such as femtech, elder care, and solutions to ensure that LGBTQ communities have more health solutions available to meet their needs.

Interesting companies to watch in this category are:

  • 54gene Founded by Abasi Ene-Obong, 54gene is building the world’s first biobank made up of African genomes. The hope is that the company can use this asset to ensure that people of African descent are represented in new classes of therapeutics and diagnostics.
  • DotLab Female-founded Dotlab is a women’s healthcare technology company using blood-based biomarkers to diagnose active endometriosis across all stages of the disease.
  • Queerly Health Founded by Derrick Reyes, Queerly Health is a digital health company created to deliver safe, inclusive health and wellness services for the LGBTQ community.

5. Renewed focus on population health management solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted divides not only in how people access healthcare but also in how those who have caught the virus have experienced it. Some have had only mild symptoms, while others became severely ill and many hundreds of thousands have died. Furthermore, some survivors, known as COVID long haulers, have suffered long term symptoms.

What is clear that for health systems, governments, and payers it is critically important to be able to identify the highest risk patients much more swiftly and, where possible, to proactively deliver preventive interventions earlier. And while COVID-19 has highlighted this need, this principle applies to all aspects of chronic disease management.

In order to do this we need a more holistic approach toward patients within a health system. This will require a variety of datasets beyond just medical records, particularly those that can be predictive or preventive of chronic disease.

There are new opportunities for digital health companies to innovate in this area including adding datasets such as: genomics, lifestyle and behavioral health and social determinants of health.

Some examples of companies and health systems taking a novel approach to population health management are below.

  • Genomics plc Co-founded by Prof. Sir Peter Donnelly in the UK, Genomics plc is developing a new class of genetic tests, which deliver what’s known as Polygenic Risk Scores. These tests can potentially identify those within a population who are at the highest risks of chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. And if we can identify those at highest risk of chronic disease, within a population, we can proactively deliver preventive interventions earlier.
  • Renown Health Northern Nevada’s health system, led by CEO Anthony Slonim, is taking a holistic approach to population health management, addressing issues such as mental health, substance abuse, lifestyle, and behavioral and social determinants of health. Renown was also one of the earliest health systems to implement a genomics-based approach to population health, in partnership with the Healthy Nevada Project.

These solutions are complex to build. In the US, as we shift to value-based care models of payment, the pressure on digital health companies to demonstrate their ability to deliver improved outcomes will also increase. Another fascinating discussion about Reimagining Population Health Management can be heard at our recent webinar featuring health system executives, payors, and digital health entrepreneurs.

2021: An unprecedented opportunity for digital health companies

Back to silver linings. We are at an inflection point. We believe 2021 will be another year when science, healthcare, and digital health will be thrown into the spotlight and have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the health of humanity. The pandemic has shone a light on the gaps in our healthcare system. That, together with changes in regulations, reimbursement, access to funding, and physician and patient willingness to adopt novel health solutions have created an unparalleled opportunity for digital health companies.

At MDisrupt we believe that the most impactful health products should make it market quickly. We do this by uniting digital health companies with experts from the healthcare industry to help them accelerate their time to market responsibly.

Our expert consultants span the healthcare continuum and can assist with all stages of health product development: This includes regulatory, clinical studies and evidence generation, payor strategies, commercialization, and channel strategies. If you are building a health product, talk to us.

Ruby Gadelrab

Ruby Gadelrab, CEO + Founder, MDisrupt

Ruby Gadelrab is a seasoned health executive with a track record in successfully commercializing healthcare and healthtech products. Her expertise lies in developing high-impact B2B and B2C marketing, branding, and commercial strategies. Ruby served on the executive team at 23andMe as vice president of commercial marketing and has worked for many leading companies in the biotech and genetic spaces. Before founding MDisrupt, Ruby consulted for, advised, and mentored more than 25 companies in the healthtech space.

Healthtech Entrepreneurs: The World Needs You. A Conversation between MDisrupt CEO Ruby Gadelrab and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rebecca Richards

Healthtech Entrepreneurs: The World Needs You. A Conversation between MDisrupt CEO Ruby Gadelrab and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rebecca Richards

Rebecca Richards, WFP

Rebecca Richards, shared in winning the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the World Food Program, where she is Chief of Peace and Conflict in the Program and Policy Division.

On October 9th, my dearest friend, Rebecca Richards, shared in winning the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the World Food Program, where she is Chief of Peace and Conflict in the Program and Policy Division. Beginning as a United Nations intern and then moving up the ranks, Rebecca has worked war zones, refugee camps, and famine-stricken towns. She sacrificed her time, comforts, and safety to make a difference in people’s lives around the globe. We talk about her personal and career challenges and achievements, the mission of the World Food Program, the use of technology in combating food insecurity, and the important role healthtech leaders can play in solving this global crisis.

I urge healthtech leaders to read this blog (an abridged version of our conversation), listen to the full interview on our podcast, and consider Rebecca’s suggestions for partnership. Healthtech leaders can play a crucial part in ending food insecurity by collaborating with the World Food Program, using the power of technology to make change.

Part 1: The Path to the Nobel Prize

Ruby: How did you first hear that the World Food Program won?
Rebecca: I have been in shock since I heard the news. However, it’s not just about me, it’s about the 18,000 employees at the World Food Program, and the 690 million people around the world who are hungry today. It’s a huge honor and shines a light on a really important issue—food insecurity.

I was on the phone with a colleague. We had an appointment to talk and he called to say, “I’m running over, but stay on the line.” Then he sent me a WhatsApp and said, “Oh, my gosh, you’ve won.” I thought, “What is he talking about?” I went onto Google and the news was starting to come out and I couldn’t believe it. I sat there in stunned silence and then my phone started going. Everybody was going crazy. It lasted the entire weekend.

Ruby: What influenced you to study peace and security at university and how did that impact your career?
Rebecca: My family history is closely associated with war and conflict. I’m from Sri Lanka, but London-born and -raised. My parents are Sri Lankan Tamils. I grew up understanding what it was like to have to escape your country. I knew that I wanted to contribute, but didn’t know where I would end up. I finally got an internship with the United Nations,nd then two years in, I was offered a three-month consultancy in Pakistan for the UN special mission to Afghanistan. I was 22 and I went to my dad and said, “Dad, I want to go to Pakistan, it’s only three months.” He looked at me like, “There is no way on earth I’m going to let you do this.” He thought about it and said, “You sure it’s three months?” “Yes, Daddy. Let me go,” I pleaded. He did, and I never came home. I found myself in Pakistan working on the Afghanistan portfolio on September 11. The minute September 11th happened, my whole life changed. I ended up at the Bonn peace talks and then in Kabul on the first plane with the Secretary General’s delegation. This enveloped the next three years of my life.

Part 2: The mission of the World Food Program

Ruby: Can you tell us what the World Food Program does in terms of their focus on food and security?
Rebecca: The World Food Program is about ensuring that we save lives and change lives through food security, because food security is foundational. It’s the first building block to stability and security. The WFP’s mission is about reaching everybody who does not have enough food. Because of conflict, the numbers are through the roof. With the pandemic, those numbers have gone even higher. Four countries today—Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso and the Sahel—are facing famine-like conditions. In a world where there’s enough food to feed everyone, that equation doesn’t make any sense.

Ruby: You’ve mentioned that the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most fertile areas to grow food and yet there is extreme famine. How does that work?
Rebecca: I was astounded when I was there how green and beautiful it was. You can drop something and it will grow. Yet out on the streets there are children begging—not one or two, but hundreds and hundreds. It happens mainly because of the lack of infrastructure. There are no real roads to transport food to the markets. They don’t have the systems in place for food storage or preservation. The entire infrastructure—supply chains, production, delivery—is weak, if not nonexistent. Conflict doesn’t allow for those systems to be stood up. It’s in those circumstances that WFP comes in. In places like South Sudan, it’s actually a matter of flying in food and dropping it because people are at war and you can’t land. It’s hugely expensive, but we do what it takes to get to them.

Part 3: The role of technology in solving food insecurity

Ruby: Is there a place for technology to solve these problems or is it beyond technology?
Rebecca: The future is technology. If we don’t have technology at the heart of our solutions around hunger, we’re not going to reach them. If you look at the way the World Food Program was working 20 or 30 years ago, it was the simple effort of taking wheat in a bag and moving it in a truck from A to B. Today, we’re talking about being able to reach people through a cash card where they can buy food at the supermarket.”

Ruby: How did the World Food Program provide cash cards for displaced refugees?
Rebecca: First, you need to understand where they are and who they are. Technology plays an incredible role in making this assessment, especially in conflict countries, because many of the people we can’t reach. That could be through using drones to see where people are. By using satellite imagery, you’re able to see movements and presence.

Technology is going to be the future for us because with cash you have buying power and are able to instill and drive economic empowerment for a family. That also brings with it dignity and that’s really important, because you must be able to deliver food in a way that’s dignified.

Ruby: What about the application of technology for food development or nutrition?
Rebecca: Food security is about receiving nutritious food, the right types of food. The first thousand days of a child’s life is the most important. If they do not have sufficient food, they miss out on huge opportunities later because they have not been able to develop in a way that maximizes their potential.

There’s a huge learning potential around the role of technology and the ability to reach people. There was one fantastic app that was put together by a staff member in Senegal where we were able to teach mothers the importance of breastfeeding, the types of food they need to feed their children, and how to put it together—add water, add milk and the quantities. It was done pictorially. To communicate, you have to make it visual, which is why an app is effective. They can click through and see what they need to do and where they need to go.

I also want to mention the link to climate change and how it’s an important driver of food insecurity. Farmers, for example, have an alert system for when there’s going to be rain or no rain. Access to weather information allows them to plan for their crops, but also to protect their crops. It changes their lives. They can harvest earlier because they know the rains are going to come earlier. It builds the resilience of the family and that’s all down to technology.

Ruby: Are those all being developed by the World Food Program or does the World Food Program partner with industry?
Rebecca: It’s critical to partner with the private sector. Solutions that we use are not necessarily solutions that originate from the WFP. We rely on innovation that comes from the private sector. We work with it, take it on board, and try to scale it up.

Ruby: For companies that have developed solutions to address aspects of food security, are there ways to work with the World Food Program?
Rebecca: At the WFP, we have a private sector team in Rome and an innovation center in Munich, Germany. WFP employees bring to the table the problems we face at the country level and connect them to the private sector solutions.

An example of this is one I encountered with Syrian refugees at a camp in Iraq. Many are smart and educated, with degrees. War has meant that they are completely trapped. Through innovative solutions, we can help them work via computer programming from a tent. They’re able to get a small income and connect to a company. This gives them a huge amount of hope.

Ruby: Many in our audience are entrepreneurs who have access to capital and technologies, and engineers to build solutions. What could we do better and what are we not doing enough of?
Rebecca: We’re not doing enough to connect them to us and to where the action is. There’s a huge amount of goodwill and interest, but we’re missing the connection. Luckily, the Nobel Prize is shining a spotlight on the work of WFP and it offers a huge opportunity. My appeal is, know us and come in with a creative mind and help us find the solutions. Because the problems we’re trying to tackle are huge.

Through the work of your audience, you can connect directly to people’s lives through the WFP. That’s unique because we have that reach in places that nobody else is in. We work in 80 countries and employ over 18,000 people. And today we have a $5B shortfall. That’s the money we need just to reach a fraction of the number that are hungry. If we’re going to make a dent in these numbers, it’s only going to be through partnership with the private sector.

Ruby: What solutions should health tech entrepreneurs be building to address the issues the World Food Program faces?
Rebecca: Bringing technology to real-life situations. It’s not one-size-fits-all because every country, every region is different. Understanding the kind of pressures and the dynamics, especially around conflict, at a community level, is crucial. The beauty of tech companies is their flexibility, their ability to adapt, and create solutions that fit in different contexts.

The UN structures and systems are not as cool as the tech industry. You have to help us move into the 21st century. Tech and healthtech will be the ones who can build the solutions that are going to save us money. For example, if I look today at the nutritional issue, to reach mothers and give them the nutrition they need for their kids, we are buying products from companies in Europe and flying them into Africa. The products look like packets of peanut butter where mothers can open the packet and feed it directly to their child without needing water, a stove, or fire. The cost around flying something from Paris to Burkina Faso is immense. Help us think through those solutions that are going to save us money, because every dollar we save means we can get to another child.

Part 4: Career advice and parting wisdom

Ruby: What parting wisdom can you give healthtech and tech entrepreneurs?
Rebecca: Step up now because we need you at the table. We need you to help us figure this out. Give us a call and let’s get moving, because the numbers are really big and they’re rising every day because of the pandemic. If anyone can help us to change, it’s going to be healthtech entrepreneurs.

If you would like to listen to the full interview click here

Ruby Gadelrab

Ruby Gadelrab, CEO + Founder, MDisrupt

Ruby Gadelrab is a seasoned health executive with a track record in successfully commercializing healthcare and healthtech products. Her expertise lies in developing high-impact B2B and B2C marketing, branding, and commercial strategies. Ruby served on the executive team at 23andMe as vice president of commercial marketing and has worked for many leading companies in the biotech and genetic spaces. Before founding MDisrupt, Ruby consulted for, advised, and mentored more than 25 companies in the healthtech space.

Whether you are an international company and looking to bring your health product to the US, or a US company considering global markets, MDisrupt can help you ask the right questions, prioritize target markets and de-risk the process for you.

Talk to us—we can help.

The List of Female Physician Healthtech Founders that was Impossible to Find

The List of Female Physician Healthtech Founders that was Impossible to Find

The list of awesome female physician healthtech founders.

At MDisrupt I spend a lot of  my time talking to practicing physicians who are mid-career and thinking about reducing or winding down their clinical practice. Many are considering how they can engage and work with the healthtech industry and ask me how they can add value to healthtech companies. 

So this weekend I sat down to write a blog called 3 Leadership Roles Doctors Can Play in Healthtech Companies. As I was writing it, I wanted to showcase examples of physicians who had successfully made the transition from clinical practice to healthtech. One of the most shocking things I discovered was how hard it is to find physician healthtech founders who are women. There are many female founders out there (not nearly enough, but many) and lots of female scientist founders, too (though also not enough). But finding female physician healthtech founders was ridiculously difficult. And not because they don’t exist—but because for some reason no one is creating lists of them and showcasing them enough. 

After about 10 hours of scouring the internet for these elusive lists, I went to my trusty source, Twitter, and asked two very networked women in the health industry to help me through their networks: Chrissy Farr @Chrissyfarr and Sally Church @MaverickNY.

Fortunately, Twitter did not disappoint. I was soon inundated with recommendations of awesome women physicians who’ve founded healthtech companies. So in case anyone else ever needs this list, I’ve compiled it here. Because women founders are awesome, and women physician founders who build healthtech companies should always be easy to find! 

Since we started building this list, many more female physician founders have come to our attention. We tried to capture as many founders as possible on this list, however, in case we missed you—we’ve created a way for you to add yourself.

If you are a female physician founder, and want to be added to this list, add yourself to the list by clicking the button below:

Aaliya Yaqub, MD

Company: GoForward
Preventive primary care, powered by technology

Twitter: @DrAaliya
LinkedIn: Aaliya Yaqub, MD

Pamela Pierce Palmer, MD

Company: AcelRX
A specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of innovative therapies

Twitter:
LinkedIn: Pamela Pierce Palmer, MD

Jennifer M. Joe, MD

Company: Medstro
The only online community and challenge platform as a service designed specifically for healthcare professionals

Twitter: @JenniferJoeMD
LinkedIn: Jennifer M. Joe, MD

Iman Abuzeid, MD

Company: Incredible Health
Preventive primary care, powered by technology

Twitter: @ImanAbuzeid
LinkedIn: Iman Abuzeid, MD

Robin Berzin, MD

Company: Parsley Health
Doctor-led holistic medicine proven to treat the root cause of your health issue, in-person or online

Twitter: @robinberzinmd
LinkedIn: Robin Berzin, MD

Robin Berzin, MD

Company: Parsley Health
Doctor-led holistic medicine proven to treat the root cause of your health issue, in-person or online

Twitter: @robinberzinmd
LinkedIn: Robin Berzin, MD

Michelle Longmire, MD

Company: Medable
A decentralized trial platform providing a seamless experience, connecting patients, sites, and clinical trial teams

Twitter:@LongmireMD
LinkedIn:Michelle Longmire, MD

Joy Bhosai, MD, MPH

Company: ChatrHealth
Creating technology that protects patients and keeps people healthy through driving communication for providers and patients

Twitter: @JoyBhosaiMD
LinkedIn:Joy Bhosai, MD, MPH

Asima Ahmad, MD, MPH

Company: Carrot Fertility
Global fertility benefits for employers that save money and tame anxiety

Twitter: @AsimaAhmadMD
LinkedIn:Asima Ahmad, MD, MPH

Sarah Munkholm, MD

Company: MyMedCards
Innovative digital solution that ensures accessible and high-quality medical guidelines

Twitter: @mymedcards
LinkedIn:Sarah Munkholm, MD

Courtney Hill, MD

Company: Yonder
Yonder makes an app, custom to your practice, for young children & parents to use at home to prepare for their visit.

Twitter: 
LinkedIn: Courtney Hill, MD

Bronwyn Harris, MD

Company: Tueo Health
Childhood asthma management and monitoring

Twitter: @DoctorBronwyn
LinkedIn: Bronwyn Harris, MD

Janene Fuerch, MD

Company: Emme
Offers smart case and app to support healthy and effective use of the birth control pill

Twitter: 
LinkedIn: Janene Fuerch, MD

Stephanie Eltz, MD

Company: Doctify UK
evolutionising the global healthcare market, enabling patients to search, book and review clinics and hospitals online

Twitter: @StephanieEltz
LinkedIn: Stephanie Eltz, MD

Bhavagaya Bakshi, MBBS

Company: C the Sign
A multi-platform digital tool that uses AI mapped with the latest evidence to identify patients at risk of cancer

Twitter: @bakshib87
LinkedIn: Bhavagaya Bakshi, MBBS

Hajnalka Hejja, MD

Company: Super Izzy
A femtech chatbot that offers personalized health advice for women, based on data collection and contextual understanding

Twitter: @HajnalkaHejjaMD
LinkedIn: Hajnalka Hejja, MD

Emily Anhalt, PsyD

Company: Coa
Therapy & expert-led classes for mental health, all grounded in community

Twitter: @dremilyanhalt
LinkedIn: Emily Anhalt, PsyD

Nadine Hachach-Haram, MD

Company: Proximie
A secure, complete software solution that expands surgical collaboration, enabling surgeons to share expertise using augmented reality tools before, during and after surgery

Twitter: @DrNadz
LinkedIn: Nadine Hachach-Haram, MD

Lucienne Ide, MD, PhD

Company: Rimidi
A cloud-based software solution that enables personalized management of chronic cardiometabolic conditions across populations

Twitter: @Lucienneide
LinkedIn: Lucienne Ide, MD, PhD

Lynda Chin, MD

Company: Apricity Health
Empowering patients and their clinical teams with real-time data and expert knowledge to manage cancer therapy

Twitter: @LyndaChin
LinkedIn: Lynda Chin, MD

Tisha Rowe MD, MBA

Company: RoweDocs
Reliable Online Wellness Experience (ROWE); one of the largest and most diverse women-owned multi-specialty telemedicine networks

Twitter: @tisharowemd
LinkedIn: Tisha Rowe MD, MBA

YiDing Yu, MD

Company: Twiage
Powerful data and real-time care coordination for EMS, ED, and hospital teams

Twitter: @YiDingYu
LinkedIn: YiDing Yu, MD

Mahnaz Hashmi

Company: Medstars
Medstars provides a range of innovative clinician-designed health tech products to make it easier for patients and health professionals to connect

Twitter: @mahnazhashmi
LinkedIn: Mahnaz Hashmi

Satasuk Joy Bhosai, MD MPH

Company: Pluto.health
A smart health assistant that bridges siloed data to help patients get things done.

Twitter: @joybhosaiMD
LinkedIn: 

Lyndsey Harper, MD, FACOG, IF

Company: Meet Rosy
Research-based technology solution for women who suffer from low libido

Twitter: @babymamadoctor
LinkedIn:Lyndsey Harper, MD, FACOG, IF

Mylene Yao, MD

Company: Univfy
Highly-scalable AI platform to provide scientifically-validated, personalized reports that counsel patients from diverse demographics about their probability of having a baby with IVF

Twitter: @MyleneYao
LinkedIn: Mylene Yao, MD

Maria Artunduaga, MD, MPH, MTM

Company: Respira Labs
Developing the first wearable device that can monitor lung function before it leads to COPD exacerbation attacks

Twitter: @DrArtunduag
LinkedIn: Maria Artunduaga, MD, MPH, MTM

Kimberly Gandy, MD, PhD

Company: Play-it Health
Virtual health management; dependable revenue and continuity of care in changing times

Twitter: @KimberlyGandy1
LinkedIn: Kimberly Gandy, MD, PhD

Stephanie Canale, MD

Company: Lactation Lab
As the first company to offer a complete milk analysis, we provide detailed explanations and actionable insights to make your breastfeeding journey as empowering as possible

Twitter: @Stephan79740428
LinkedIn: Stephanie Canale, MD

Roopan Gill, MD, MPH, FRCSC

Company: Vitala
Co-creates and implements open-access digital sexual and reproductive health (SRH) solutions

Twitter:@Roops22
LinkedIn: Roopan Gill, MD, MPH, FRCSC

Alexandra Greenhill, MD

Company: Careteam
Virtual care collaboration and communication platform that enables care planning and patient engagement across all health conditions and workflows

Twitter: 
LinkedIn: Alexandra Greenhill, MD

Sarah Welsh, MBBS

Company: Hanx
Female-founded intimate wellness products

Twitter: 
LinkedIn: Sarah Welsh, MBBS

Vedrana Högqvist Tabor

Company: Boost Thyroid
Preventing health complications caused by autoimmune diseases with our smart solution BOOST Thyroid

Twitter: 
LinkedIn: Vedrana Högqvist Tabor, PhD

Sophia Yen, MD

Company: Pandia Health
A one-stop online shop for recurring medications, starting with birth control

Twitter: @teenmd
LinkedIn: Sophia Yen, MD

Mary Jo Gorman, MD, MBA

Company: Healthy Bytes
Personalized, expert nutritional counseling via telehealth that is covered by most major insurance plans

Twitter:@maryjogorman
LinkedIn:Mary Jo Gorman, MD, MBA

Rayna Patel, MBBS

Company: Vinehealth
Allows people living with cancer to track their symptoms, manage their medications and understand their care

Twitter:@drraynapatel
LinkedIn: Rayna Patel, MBBS

Monica Bolbjerg, MD

Company: Qure4u
Complete virtual care platform offering patients and providers a fully integrated solution that supports the entire patient journey and optimizes care before, during, and after office visits

Twitter:@BolbjergMonica
LinkedIn:Monica Bolbjerg, MD

Evelyn Chan, MD, MPH

Company: Smileyscope
Medical device that alleviates the fear of needle experiences through innovative VR technology

Twitter:
LinkedIn:Evelyn Chan, MD, MPH

Suzanne Clough, MD

Company: Welldoc
Leading digital health company revolutionizing chronic disease management to help transform lives

Twitter:@suzanneclough
LinkedIn:Suzanne Clough, MD

Michelle Dipp, MD, PhD

Company:Biospring Partners
Leverages deep experience in life sciences and technology to support B2B services, tools, and enterprise software companies that are driving innovation across the life sciences industry

Twitter:@dipp
LinkedIn:Michelle Dipp, MD, PhD

Aakriti Gupta, MD

Company:Heartbeat Health
Personalized care, starting with cardiology

Twitter:@aakriti_15
LinkedIn:Aakriti Gupta, MD

Chitra Akileswaran, MD, MBA

Company: Cleo
Family benefits platform made for working parents

Twitter:@chitra_mdmba
LinkedIn:Chitra Akileswaran, MD, MBA

Subha Airan-Javia MD

Company: TrekIT Health
A secure, collaborative, patient-centered think-space enables clinicians to share and assign tasks to anyone on the care team, while quick access to real-time clinical data empowers clinicians to make more informed decisions at the point of care

Twitter:@subhaairan
LinkedIn:Subha Airan-Javia MD

Pardis Sabeti, MD, PhD

Company: Sherlock Biosciences
Developing the most advanced platforms in molecular testing to offer unparalleled breadth and versatility for diagnostic solutions

Twitter:@PardisSabeti
LinkedIn:Pardis Sabeti, MD, PhD

Rasha Gadelrab, MBBS

Company: MyHealthSpecialist
The UK’s only private specialist recommendation service. Company’s aim is to connect doctors and patients to the very best specialists in private healthcare. 

Twitter:@rashagadelrab
LinkedIn:Rasha Gadelrab, MBBS

Breanne Everett MD

Company: Orpyx
Sensory insoles and remote monitoring solutions for diabetic foot management

Twitter:@everettbreanne
LinkedIn:

Julielynn Wong, MD, MPH, FACPM

Company: 3D4MD
3D4MD is a social enterprise that makes high quality, 3D printing solutions to impact over 1 billion lives at home, abroad, and in space.

Twitter: @julielynnwong
LinkedIn: Julielynn Wong, MD, MPH, FACPM

Toyin Ajayi, MD

Company: Cityblock Health
We bring together primary care, behavioral health, and social services to deliver better care for every member.

Twitter: @toyinajayidoc
LinkedIn:Toyin Ajayi, MD

Jennifer Meller, MD, MBA

Company: Navimize
Put patient and provider safety first with Navimize, the easiest virtual waiting software.

Twitter: @drjen_Navimize
LinkedIn:Jennifer Meller, MD, MBA

Carolyn Lam, MD

Company: eko.ai
Complete AI decision tool for echocardiography

Twitter: @iamcardio
LinkedIn:Carolyn Lam, MD

Natalie Davis MD

Company:PreventScripts
Partners with providers to delay onset of lifestyle disease for their at-risk populations, at scale.

Twitter: @nataliehodge
LinkedIn:Natalie Davis MD

Sandy Penn Whitehouse, MD

Company: Tickit Health
Proprietary platform that captures high-fidelity person-reported data and empowers organizations to understand each unique individual they serve, to improve outcomes for the entire population

Twitter: @PennWhitehouse
LinkedIn:Sandy Penn Whitehouse, MD

Bora Chang, MD

Company: KelaHealth
Delivers patient-specific predictive insight and risk stratification software to help improve surgical quality and prevent complications

Twitter:@ChangBora
LinkedIn: Bora Chang, MD

Karen Otte, MD

Company: Motognosis
We are experts in the automated assessment of motor symptoms, providing easy-to-use software solutions with a focus on neurologic disorders.

Twitter: 
LinkedIn:Karen Otte, MD

Cheryl Lee Eberting, MD

Company:Azova
Fully connected digital health technology platform designed to enable all healthcare providers to deliver their services over the internet

Twitter:@CherylEberting
LinkedIn: Cheryl Lee Eberting, MD

Susan Gross, MD

Company:The ObG Project
Educational resource for women’s health / primary care professionals

Twitter:@DrSueGross
LinkedIn:Susan Gross, MD

Jane van Dis, MD

Company: Equity Quotient
We work with standout healthcare organizations, employer groups, and academic centers to create cultures of equity, safety, and respect.

Twitter:@janevandis
LinkedIn: Jane van Dis, MD

Elizabeth McGloughlin, MBBCh

Company: Tympany Medical
Designing and developing solutions which will drive the next generation of sterile endoscopy in ENT and beyond

Twitter:@Betty_McG
LinkedIn: Elizabeth McGloughlin, MBBCh

Mahnaz Hashmi, MBBCh

Company:Medstar
Connect with the very best private UK health specialists, chosen & curated by doctors.

Twitter:@MahnazHashmi
LinkedIn:Mahnaz Hashmi, MBBCh

Dana Corriel, MD

Company: SoMeDocs
Curated online spaces allow healthcare professionals to connect, use tools that help optimize personal branding and business success, and grow effective presence that translates into better healthcare delivery.

Twitter: @DrCorriel
LinkedIn:Dana Corriel, MD

Alaa Elnajjar, MD, Msc

Company: Kinect Space
A digital platform that provides 24/7 mental health services for physicians by integrating telepsychiatry services, group support services, and meditation

Twitter:@Alaa_elnajjar
LinkedIn:Alaa Elnajjar, MD, Msc.

Katrina Firlik, MD

Company: HealthPrize
Creates direct-to-patient medication adherence programs for branded therapeutics

Twitter:@KatrinaFirlik
LinkedIn:Katrina Firlik, MD

Ailis Tweed-Kent, MD

Company: Cocoon
Engineered the world’s most adaptable and sustainable natural material to be used as a sustainable ingredient in various healthcare, consumer, and industrial products

Twitter:@AilisTweedKent
LinkedIn:Ailis Tweed-Kent, MD

Jerrica Kirkley, MD

Company: Plume
Gender-affirming hormone therapy from the phone

Twitter:
LinkedIn:Jerrica Kirkley, MD

Casey Means, MD

Company: Levels
T
racks blood glucose in real-time, so users can optimize diet and exercise.

Twitter:@DrCaseysKithcen
LinkedIn:Casey Means, MD

Paula Muto, MD

Company: UberDoc
Provides priority access to the best doctors for an affordable, transparent price for in-person and telemedicine appointments

Twitter:@PaulaMutoMD
LinkedIn: Paula Muto, MD

Wendye Robbins, MD

Company: Blade Therapeutics
Advancing a risk-diversified product portfolio to address various fibrotic diseases and their underlying pathophysiology

Twitter:
LinkedIn: Wendye Robbins, MD

Alexandra Haessler, MD

Company:FemPulse Therapeutics 
A wearable neuromodulation solution for personalized, discreet, and affordable treatment of OAB

Twitter:
LinkedIn:Alexandra Haessler, MD

Stacy Lindau, MD, MAPP

Company: Nowpow
A personalized community referral platform that makes it easy to help people stay well, meet basic needs, manage with chronic illness and care for others.

Twitter:@StacyLindau
LinkedIn:Stacy Lindau, MD, MAPP

Suzanne Mitchell, MD MS

Company:Seeyourselfhealth
See Yourself Health is a digital health platform founded on a decade of research using immersive technology to help people with chronic illness become high performing drivers of health.

Twitter:
LinkedIn: Suzanne Mitchell, MD MSc

3 Leadership Roles Doctors Can Play In Healthtech Companies

3 Leadership Roles Doctors Can Play In Healthtech Companies

Healthtech is defined as the application of technology to solve problems in healthcare—think wearables, apps, cellphones, connected devices,  software, databases, etc.  It can also include medical devices, personalized medicine, and even at-home testing solutions.  

The healthtech industry (also known as digital health) is growing rapidly.  According to Rock Health, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic the first half of 2020 saw a record investment of $5.4B in the sector in the US alone. Healthtech products are designed to solve problems in healthcare related to

  • improving patient outcomes 
  • reducing healthcare spend 
  • increasing access to care, and 
  • improving the patient and physician experience. 

Many companies in the industry are started by nonmedical founders— technologists, scientists or business leaders who see the $4 trillion healthcare industry as ripe for disruption. But doctors, too, are playing many critical roles in this industry. Increasingly, mid-career physicians are reducing or ending their clinical practice to join or found healthtech companies themselves.  

What leadership roles can physicians play in healthtech and how are they contributing?

Physician CEO/Founder

Doctors have a clear understanding of problems they have witnessed and experienced within the healthcare system. And they often have a good understanding of how the healthcare system works and who its important stakeholders are. This can make doctors very well-suited to creating health products and solutions that will not only solve real challenges in healthcare but will also be valued and adopted by other healthcare professionals.  

Some examples of physicians who founded health companies include: 

  • Kartik Modha, MD, a UK-based GP who founded myhealthspecalist. He recognized patients’ struggles to find private physicians recommended by other doctors and built a search and recommendation platform to address this. 
  • Suzanne Sysko Clough, MD, co-founded Welldoc a digital health delivery platform for chronic disease management through lifestyle interventions and behavioral coaching.  
  • Moira Schieke, MD, a clinical radiologist, founded Cubisimi to digitize radiology practices and create a new category of precision imaging.   
  • Nate Gross, MD, co-founded Doximity, the world’s largest medical network for physicians, and then went on to co-found Rock Health, a VC fund focused on digital health. 
  •  Andrew Beck, MD, is a molecular genetic pathologist who co-founded and leads PathAI. The company seeks to use AI and machine learning to modernize pathology and improve diagnostic accuracy and treatment efficacy for diseases like cancer.  
  •  Jeremy Friese, MD, MBA,  founded and leads Verata Health, a  company that has created an AI-powered Frictionless Prior Authorization™ platform to optimize both the patient and physician experience.
  • Oliver Kharraz, MD, founder and CEO of ZocDoc, a platform that solves access to care through telemedicine.

Often physicians who found companies need to augment their executive teams with both technologists and product leaders who understand how to turn the insight into a product. They also need to include commercial leaders who can ensure the commercial viability of their solutions and then help them develop  market access strategies. 

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) 

As mentioned above, many innovators who start healthtech companies do not have medical backgrounds. That’s why the Chief Medical Officer role can be one of the most critical hires for the success of a healthtech company. This role is a key executive position and is essential for companies that expect their product to be adopted and paid for by stakeholders within the healthcare system. The responsibilities of the CMO are broad and can include: 

  • Develop and communicate the clinical strategy
  • Represent the voice of healthcare and patients inside a company
  • Enable the company to find product-market fit and solve real (not perceived) problems in healthcare 
  • Ensure the company meets regulatory requirements
  • Design studies to generate the evidence required to prove the products are safe, useful and cost effective
  • Develop the product’s global value and reimbursement dossier 
  • Ensure that patient care and safety are a consistent company priority
  • Communicate with medical advisors, key opinion leaders and medical societies 
  • Educate payers and other stakeholders in presentations on clinical utility 
  • Ensure that the company is designing its products responsibly and ethically. 

If you want to look at the career paths of some incredible physicians who have left clinical practice to become chief medical officers in health companies, here are some great examples: 

While the chief medical officer role is critical for companies creating health products, many early-stage health startups often can’t afford to hire one full time. This is where new versions of this role are emerging; they include:

  • Part-time Chief Medical Officer – This is where a chief medical officer can work for a company just a few days a month so the company gets the benefit of their expertise without the full salary costs. Federico Monzon, MD, one of our senior CMO consultants at MDisrupt, currently works with three separate healthtech companies in this capacity, dividing his time between them. 
  • Interim Chief Medical Officer – Hiring a CMO is a big decision and it’s important to choose the right one. You want a person with the skills and knowledge you need for your health innovation but also one who can fit in culturally with the rest of your team. It’s important not to go for long periods without any medical oversight at all. Companies whose CMO leaves suddenly may also require an interim CMO.  In this case, a physician works with a company for a few months, filling the key responsibilities while the search for the long-term CMO is underway. 
  • Virtual Chief Medical Officer – This is a very new way of engaging a CMO for companies that need flexibility—think of it as a CMO on demand. The virtual CMO isn’t usually there physically (who is these days since the global pandemic?) but they work with companies to solve some key clinical issues, particularly early on. The time commitment can be anything from 2-10 hours a month as needed. It’s a perfect role for physicians who are still in clinical practice but want to experience working with healthtech companies in a lighter capacity.

These roles allow healthtech startups to have an executive-level medical voice at the table in a way that they can afford. They also allow physicians to add value to health companies, and try working with the founders and ensuring alignment with product strategy and company  culture before making a full commitment to join. 

Head of Medical Affairs 

Medical affairs professionals often (but not always) report to the chief medical officer and are the medical face of the company.  Many physicians take medical affairs roles, but non-MD clinicians, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, genetic counsellors, and PhD scientists do so as well.  The primary role of medical affairs is to educate, communicate, and engage the clinicians who will be adopting the product the company is developing. Medical affairs roles are ideally suited for clinicals who love to make sense out of data, develop content, and teach.

 Their responsibilities can include: 

  • Building, managing and engaging Key Opinion Leader (KOL) programs 
  • Overseeing clinical trials 
  • Executing publication plans
  • Developing education programs for healthcare providers 
  • Educating sales and marketing teams 
  • Developing content for patient education 
  • Coordinating data and communications at scientific conferences 
  • Gathering and sharing market intelligence
  • Providing clinical and technical support to the clinical users of the product.

Some notable physicians who have had successful careers in medical affairs include: 

The medical affairs professionals are critical to the commercial success of a health product. They work hand in hand with the sales, marketing and product development groups within an organization. The key to adoption of health products is educating the providers who will be using them; this is the primary function of this role. 

Adding Physician Leaders to Health Companies May Enable a Faster Path to Market. 

These roles discussed above are just three examples of leadership roles that physicians can play. There are many more that we will outline in future blogs. 

At MDisrupt, we believe that the most impactful health products should make it to patients faster. From reviewing and advising hundreds of companies, our insight is that healthtech companies that hire and engage healthcare experts early and often are the most likely to be successful. We currently have 31 physicians in our network who are looking for opportunities to advise and consult for healthtech companies.

If you are a healthtech company that requires a CMO or Medical Affairs leader (full time, part time, interim or virtual) please click here. 

If you are a physician who would like to join our network to become a CMO or Medical Affairs lead for a healthtech company, please click here.

Ruby Gadelrab

Ruby Gadelrab, CEO + Founder, MDisrupt

Ruby Gadelrab is a seasoned health executive with a track record in successfully commercializing healthcare and healthtech products. Her expertise lies in developing high-impact B2B and B2C marketing, branding, and commercial strategies. Ruby served on the executive team at 23andMe as vice president of commercial marketing and has worked for many leading companies in the biotech and genetic spaces. Before founding MDisrupt, Ruby consulted for, advised, and mentored more than 25 companies in the healthtech space.

MDisrupt—building the gig economy for health industry experts

MDisrupt—building the gig economy for health industry experts

MDisrupt Podcast

MDisrupt—building the gig economy for health industry experts

Ruby Gadelrab, CEO and Co-founder of MDisrupt, the first-of-its-kind medical diligence company, discusses how they are helping health-tech startups demonstrate viability and bring health products to market faster and more responsibly. The company is also launching an on-demand health industry expert platform to connect a wide range of highly specialized medical and scientific professionals with emerging health tech companies that will most benefit from their expertise.

If you are a health industry expert join us!