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

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: Joy Bhosai, MD, MPH

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

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

    Minnie Sarwal, MD, PhD

    Company: Nephrosant Inc
    Kidney transplantation is the treatment of choice for patients with end-stage kidney failure. However, the life of a kidney transplant is limited due to unrecognized immune injury. There is no sensitive, non-invasive method to detect this injury at an early-stage. We have developed a reliable, inexpensive, and noninvasive assay to monitor kidney injury.

    Twitter:
    LinkedIn: Minnie Sarwal

    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!

    MDisrupt One Year On—A Year of Transformation

    MDisrupt One Year On—A Year of Transformation

    The only constant in life is change. And nowhere is that more true than in your first year as a start-up.

    As many of you know, MDisrupt was founded a year ago because we believed the healthtech world was lacking “medical diligence”. We believed this was the missing link in the market and the reason why so many healthtech startups were stumbling on the path to successfully commercializing their health products.

    We originally created MDisrupt to identify healthtech companies who were at risk of becoming the next Theranos, or uBiome. Our hypothesis was that if investors undertook more rigorous medical diligence, they would be able to more easily identify and evade potential investments in companies that were not clinically or commercially viable, or who were not taking the appropriate regulatory path.

    Like any start-up in its first year, we had ups and downs, learned a ton and we soon identified our true direction – to play an even more constructive role in the healthcare / healthtech industry than we had originally planned. Luckily we were small and nimble enough to be able to react quickly to the market dynamics and, while some of the changes were tough, they forced MDisrupt into a stronger, better place. I want to share with you the ways we have changed and the lessons we learned along the way. 

    Changing Focus – Healthtech Investors Were Not The Primary Customers For Medical Diligence

    It turned out that healthtech investors were not our primary customers. There is not really a ‘budget’ for medical diligence in an investment transaction. Tech funds source health subject matter experts from within their network to conduct diligence, whereas, bio and life sciences investors already have health domain expertise on staff.

    We soon found that it was the bigger and more established health companies that had utility for our medical diligence services to provide an objective external third party view and address their needs in a range of fundamental areas such as: 

    • Benchmarking: 
      • “How do our clinical standards as a laboratory compare to other clinical labs?”
    • Mergers and Acquisitions: 
      • “We are considering an acquisition and want to understand the new market of the company we are acquiring.”
    • Market Sizing: 
      • “We are launching a new product in a new market and want an objective view of the market size and opportunity.”

    Our True Market: Healthtech Truth Seekers Wanting Much More Than Medical Diligence Services

    While we had limited traction with investors, one of the most inspiring parts of the last 12 months was meeting the healthtech founders who were determined to build their companies responsibly and cared deeply about building impactful, scalable and data-driven health products. But they did not just want our medical diligence assessments, they wanted access to us and other health industry experts to help them build their health products well in the first place. They were aware of how other healthtech companies had stumbled in their early days and did not want to make the same mistakes. 

    These companies wanted our help to solve problems such as: 

    • Should my test be an LDT or an IVD?  Is it a health or wellness product?
    • What is the appropriate regulatory path I should take in the US?
    • How do I find a part-time Chief Medical Officer?
    • How do I access the self-insured employer channel?
    • What is the right strategy for engaging healthcare providers and payors?
    • Help me define a marketing strategy for reaching medical audiences.

    Even the investors we engaged with in our early days, started to connect us to healthtech companies in their portfolios. Very soon we were overwhelmed with these types of requests and had to start tapping into our network of colleagues to help us on these projects. We quickly realized that our real market was helping the healthtech founding teams themselves.

    Uncovering The Unmet Need: “The Gig Economy For Health Industry Experts”

    As we began to reach out to our networks for help on these projects, and with all the press coverage we received when we launched, we were inundated with support from experienced health industry professionals and colleagues. The same key themes emerged: 

    • It is about time someone helped improve standards of health products.
    • How can I help and get involved?
    • Can I work for MDisrupt?
    • I want to work with healthtech companies and help them get to market quickly and safely.
    • How can I find the healthtech companies who could use my skills and expertise?

    We heard from our client healthtech companies that they were struggling to access the experts they needed and here we were with hundreds of emails from passionate, experienced experts ready and willing to help. That was the moment we realized that the real problem we needed to solve was how we could provide easy access to experienced, vetted health industry experts. We knew then what we needed to build into the MDisrupt platform – a health expert two-sided marketplace. 

    And so we did.  To date we have 58 consultant subject matter experts spanning the healthcare continuum, averaging 10 years’ experience in their discipline. Our expert consultants include:

    • MDs
    • Scientists
    • Market Access Experts
    • Regulatory Experts
    • Commercial and Channel Strategists
    • Lab Test Designers
    • Clinical Trial Designers
    • Health Economists

    Many of these industry experts are still practicing and so are able to provide the most current perspective within their disciplines. They are able to assist healthtech companies in a variety of capacities including: 

    • Experts-in-Residence
    • Part-Time Chief Medical or Chief Scientific Officer
    • KOLs
    • Medical or Scientific Advisory Boards
    • Consulting Projects
    • Expert Opinions

    Engaging these health industry experts as consultants has enabled us to solidify our mission of helping to bring the most impactful health products to market faster and more responsibly by uniting the healthtech and healthcare industries – benefiting from the best of both worlds.

    The Covid-19 Pandemic: An Unexpected Driver In Uniting The Healthcare And Healthtech Worlds 

    As we entered 2020 the onset of the coronavirus outbreak changed the world for us all. Never has healthcare, healthtech and science been more in the spotlight than over the past 6 months. Very soon we started to see healthtech companies make significant shifts in their business models to help address the global pandemic. Some examples of these include:

    • Lab testing companies that wanted to shift into developing Covid-19 Testing
    • Telemedicine companies that had to scale significantly
    • Instrument companies that had developed products for adjacent industries wanting to move quickly into clinical lab testing
    • Behavioral apps who pivoted to address mindfulness and stress-management issues arising from lifestyle shifts due to prolonged shelter in place mandates
    • Regulatory and clinical activities for “Back to Work” scenarios – how employers, colleges and schools can bring people back safely

    Once again, we have been inundated with requests for health industry experts to help healthtech companies make these pivots and transitions. Increasingly, healthtech companies are seeing the value of having scientific and medical experts as core parts of their teams to help them navigate the new opportunities that the pandemic has brought to the industry.

    As Start-Ups Evolve, So Do Their Teams 

    Earlier in my career, while working for a start-up, a wise CEO told me that the people that found a company are not always the same people that grow the company, or scale it or take it public.  Teams evolve and different people and skills are needed for different stages of progression. 

    MDisrupt was founded by myself and my close friend and colleague Jill Hagenkord, who I nicknamed the “Godmother of Precision Medicine”. We founded MDisrupt with the mission of helping bring the most impactful health products to market faster and more responsibly by uniting the healthtech and healthcare worlds. Today is the one-year anniversary of MDisrupt and, while that mission has not changed, it is bittersweet for me to announce Jill’s departure from MDisrupt. Jill was offered an incredible opportunity that she could not refuse and she is off to pursue her next amazing adventure. I don’t want to steal her thunder by announcing where she is going until she does, so stay tuned for her announcement. I am so incredibly grateful for the blood, sweat and tears Jill poured into MDisrupt working alongside me over the past year and how she helped turn a glimmer of an idea into a business that can truly make an impact for so many companies. Myself, and the MDisrupt community she helped to build, thank her for her dedication, passion and brilliance and we will be cheering her on as she embarks on her next journey.

    We have also been lucky enough over the past few months to add some new and incredibly talented people to our team:

    Ragan Hart, MS, PhD – Director of Operations and Business Development
    Ragan is an applied health economist, who evaluates clinical genomics and digital health technologies.  Learn more about Ragan Hart

    Dr Pamela Mehta – VP of Medical Affairs
    Dr. Pamela Mehta is a board certified, practicing orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Resilience Orthopedics. Read more about Dr Mehta 

    Please join me in welcoming them to the MDisrupt Community!

    A New Year, A New Look

    As a health product marketer by blood, I believe it is important that a brand is not only representative of your company’s personality but also a critical communication vehicle for your target audiences. We serve both health innovators and our health industry experts equally. Our goal has been to create a brand that resonates with both sectors, keeping the modern feel that the healthtech industry is accustomed to, but enriching this with content written by our experts to address the real issues entrepreneurs may face as they take on the challenges of responsibly building scalable health products.  

    We also wanted to make it easier to showcase some of our experts’ skills and create simpler ways for health companies to find them. So we gave ourselves a rebrand – take a look at our new website, we welcome your feedback. I want to thank Paul Bohanna, our creative and technical director who has worked tirelessly over the past few months to reimagine our brand and build our website. 

    A Company Is Only As Good As Its Network of Supporters – Thank You

    As with any start-up, the first year is a year of learning, pivoting and identifying new opportunities. But one thing has been clear – we have been blessed with incredible support: from the clients that believed in us and trusted us to work closely with them on their projects, to the network of health industry experts that joined our platform and have been passionate about not only helping the healthtech companies but also helping us directly, advising us, writing amazing blogs for our website and evangelizing our message.

    Finally, I want to acknowledge a few partners who have supported us and provided wisdom and guidance from our very first day.  

    One year on, I am humbled and grateful for all the support and from the bottom of my heart I thank you all. 

    Ruby Gadelrab
    CEO