Why No Digital Health CEO Should Miss HLTH

Why No Digital Health CEO Should Miss HLTH

Mona Schreiber

Didn’t go to the HLTH conference? Don’t know why you should have been there? MDisrupt’s VP of Marketing Mona Schreiber shares her take on why it offers incredible opportunity for digital health CEOs.

You’re a digital health CEO, building a rockstar team, staying on top of industry trends, raising capital, and trying to keep the lights on. We get it. You’re busy! 

MDisrupt was there. We’re also a startup in the digital health space and our CEO barely sleeps because she’s navigating the same challenges. Why did we take time out of our schedules to be there? 

MDisrupt breaks it down for you:

See the latest trends

If you’re like us, you subscribe to several different newsletters/news sites to keep up on the latest trends, but never have time to read anything beyond the same two or three headlines you see pop up in your social media feeds. The HLTH conference is a three-day immersion in all the trends in digital health, the perspectives of the various healthcare stakeholders, what the future holds, and how not to be left behind. It’s like a “bootcamp into the healthcare of the future.” You can leave here more informed than if you sat down and read every single article that came out. And… it’s so much more fun this way! 

Network with other entrepreneurs

Ever ask the question – how did my peer/ Entrepreneur X solve that problem? At HLTH, you can ask them! This conference is full of founders who have walked the path before you and advisors who are ready to help others. You’re not alone. You’ll be able to meet hundreds of other digital health companies disrupting the healthcare space, all at one venue. No more googling leading you down a rathole. Meet the amazing minds behind each innovation, in person.

Meet the investors

Flying around the country to meet with individual investors isn’t the most ideal way to fundraise – especially in the middle of a pandemic. This year’s HLTH had something unusual about it that we had never seen before. The digital health space is so hot right now that investors set up booths in the exhibit hall. In fact, there were 70+ investment partners in attendance.  And they partied hard – every night the bar at the Omni was overtaken by our investor friends.  No more waiting for warm intros – HLTH was the place to be if you wanted to meet investors in a more casual setting. For now, it’s a founders market. 

Bolster your team

The team you build is the essence of your company, particularly in complex spaces like healthcare.  You need to hire amazing talent and fast – the story of every startup. What if there was a place you could go to meet these people without hiring someone to scour LinkedIn all day? Meet them all in one place. Even better, meet connectors – like MDisrupt – who can help you find the expertise you’re looking for, quickly and on demand. 

Get inspired!

It’s been a year. You and your team have accomplished so much, but you’re mentally and emotionally exhausted. There’s only so far coffee can go. What if you could meet the patients whose lives you were changing with your innovation? Bet that would get your emotional mojo going.

This conference oozes creativity in solving healthcare challenges. Our team came back with more energy and ideas after meeting and exchanging ideas with the most passionate minds in healthcare. Be there! Feel the energy. Reset. Crush it!

You missed the conference, so what now?

Step 1: Sign up for a free 30-minute consultation to discuss a project you’re working on – we have over 250 health experts who can help you tackle your challenge.
Step 2: Follow us on Linkedin and Twitter.

See you there next year!

If you want to dive into more interesting topics related to healthcare, check out our blog at MDisrupt.

At MDisrupt, we believe that the most impactful health products should make it market quickly. We connect digital health innovators to the healthcare industry experts and scientists they need to responsibly accelerate product development, commercialization, adoption, and scale.

Our experts 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.

How 23andMe’s Acquisition of Lemonaid Health Changes Personalized Healthcare

How 23andMe’s Acquisition of Lemonaid Health Changes Personalized Healthcare


MDisrupt CEO and founder Ruby Gadelrab on why the combination of the two companies is so promising.

Integrating genetics into primary care—for real

On Friday, 23andMe announced its acquisition of Lemonaid Health, the telehealth upstart and drug-delivery service, “in a bid to make its personalized genetics approach part of patients’ primary care,” stated Fortune.

Between 2014 and 2017, I worked at 23andMe as VP of commercial marketing. It was there that I learned the principles of consumerized healthcare. Everyone in the company had a maniacal focus on the consumer experience. Every decision we made as an executive team was through the lens of “How does this positively impact the consumer experience?”

The acquisition of Lemonaid Health is a bold move by 23andMe. I believe that it is rooted in adding value to the consumer experience and has the potential to change the way we approach primary care.

What makes the 23andMe and Lemonaid acquisition so interesting?

Mastering consumer engagement

23andMe has mastered consumer engagement. It was one of the first companies to make genetic information simple and accessible to consumers and to demonstrate that individuals were willing to pay for information on both health and ancestry, with over 11 million consumers buying the tests. 23andMe was the first company to get FDA authorization to sell genetic tests directly to consumers without clinicians being involved in the process. And the company did a fantastic job of communicating the information in reports in a simple and engaging way. Furthermore, they engaged consumers in research, with an over 85% consent rate.

Clinicians are a core part of consumer healthcare

During my time at 23andMe, as consumers became more interested in the health reports that 23andMe provided, they started to take them to their healthcare providers to discuss. The problem was, most healthcare providers had no idea what the report was or what its clinical utility might be. Further, healthcare providers had no time to try and make sense of it in a 20-minute visit. This broke the consumer experience and made it difficult for the valuable information in the 23andMe report to be actionable within our current healthcare system. One of my roles was to create a “23andMe for Medical Professionals” program in an effort to educate clinical early adopters on what the reports meant.

Consumers taking their reports to their healthcare providers created frustration everywhere. Consumers were frustrated that valuable genomic data in their 23andMe report was not taken seriously by their healthcare providers. Healthcare providers were frustrated that they were receiving data outside the standard of care that they did not know how to use or have the right infrastructure to integrate into their patients’ care. The company was frustrated because the healthcare providers’ reactions and underutilization of the 23andMe report ruined their consumers’ experience.

This issue underscores the importance of involving healthcare providers early and often as digital health innovations are built and deployed—something that’s an essential pillar of our work at MDisrupt.

Timing is everything

Genetic information is useful both clinically and personally, and yet traditional healthcare is about ten years behind medical genomics research. This can be attributed to the perceived lack of clinical utility for many genetic tests on the market as well as the “two-year problem.” This is a problem of economics and the ROI of genetic testing. Whoever pays for preventive genetic testing doesn’t get the benefit of it, because people change employers and providers at least every two years.

Post-COVID-19 pandemic, health systems have even less incentive to take an interest in genomics. These days, they have bigger problems: making up the revenue they lost during the pandemic and taking care of the patients whose medical treatment got delayed in the pandemic.

23andMe has the right idea. The only way to create an incredible consumer experience, and to make genomics part of the decision-making process in healthcare, is to own the pipes that can deliver true healthcare—meaning bringing healthcare providers into the process.

This does two things. First, it gives consumers a place to go to discuss their healthcare, genomic data included. Second, it allows a genetic testing company to deliver additional health services to its consumers (i.e., their own telemedicine channel). Having clinicians as part of the genomics journey is the only way to improve the consumer/patient experience, and make genomics meaningful in healthcare.

Genomics + telemedicine + therapeutics = a new category of genomically powered healthcare

Interestingly, it is the combined efforts of two digital health companies and not a genomics company and a healthcare system that may be able to truly integrate genomics into healthcare.

And with 23andMe, it doesn’t stop there. Remember that the company has made significant efforts and investments into therapeutics with a $300M investment and partnership with GSK in order to redefine the process of drug discovery and potentially get drugs to market faster.

This is why the acquisition of Lemonaid Health by 23andMe is so fascinating. 23andMe, with its genomics data, consumer engagement, therapeutics efforts, provider network, and telemedicine platform can potentially become the path to truly individualized clinical care. We’ll be watching closely to see what happens next with this new category of genomically-powered healthcare.

If you want to dive into more interesting topics related to healthcare, check out our blog at MDisrupt.

At MDisrupt, we believe that the most impactful health products should make it market quickly. We connect digital health innovators to the healthcare industry experts and scientists they need to responsibly accelerate product development, commercialization, adoption, and scale.

Our experts 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.

Using Digital Health Tools to Strengthen the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Using Digital Health Tools to Strengthen the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Arti Thangudu

Meet Arti Thangudu, MD, an endocrinologist pioneering a new model of patient care.

podcast available

Dr. Thangudu is a triple board-certified physician and endocrinology, diabetes, and thyroid specialist at Complete Medicine. She takes an evidence-based approach to care, focusing on the patient and their lifestyle, and uses a membership-based model of practice.

Putting the doctor-patient relationship first

MDisrupt: Tell us how you turned from practicing physician to physician-entrepreneur.

Arti Thangudu: I completed my endocrinology fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. When I graduated, I landed my dream job as an attending physician at the largest endocrinology private practice in the world. I had tons of patients and was seeing more than 30 a day.

I came into medicine to take care of people, and I chose endocrinology because it’s very relationship-based. But with 30-plus patients a day, that relationship is broken down. I thought, “Is this what I see myself doing for the rest of my life?”

In this fee-for-service model, doctors get rewarded for seeing more patients. The quality of care does not get rewarded. Better-quality care takes more time. And it’s not what the healthcare system wants us to do. The incentives are for us to see more patients and order more tests because that brings more money into the system.

I just wasn’t about that. And so I started my practice, Complete Medicine, which strives to break down the barriers to healthcare that I saw in the insurance-based model.

MDisrupt: What is your clinic trying to solve?

Arti Thangudu: The breakdown of the relationship between physician and patient and the lack of pricing transparency. For example, you go to a doctor and you have no idea how much you’re going to pay or how much your insurance is going to cover. And you get a bill two weeks later, another bill two months later, another bill three months later. And they’re all way higher than you expected. My practice is membership-based. Patients have unlimited visits. They can call me, they can text me, they can email me between visits. We can do virtual visits, we can do phone visits.

And our prices are transparent. The patient knows on day one how much they’re going to pay. We have negotiated cash pricing on labs and imaging. Patients can use insurance if they want to, but our prices are usually about one-tenth of what they would be with insurance. And there are no surprise bills.

The patients have better outcomes when they’re working with a physician they can trust and lean on and reach out to when they’re having trouble. So with my diabetes patients, we’ve had stellar outcomes—lots of patients coming off insulin, reducing their need for medication, just getting overall healthier, because good care delivers good outcomes.

Lifestyle medicine: caring for the whole patient

MDisrupt: What is lifestyle medicine?

Arti Thangudu: Lifestyle medicine integrates evidence-based nutrition, exercise, management of stress, sleep hygiene, cessation of bad habits. When I was in private practice, I noticed that people weren’t getting better. As an endocrinologist, I knew that nutrition and diabetes go hand in hand. During my endocrinology fellowship, nutritional training, for me, was 30 minutes with the dietician. That is insufficient for any doctor, especially somebody trying to call themselves a diabetes expert.

I realized that if I was going to create a more patient-centered practice, nutrition had to play a big part. And so I got certified in nutrition. And I also got board-certified in lifestyle medicine. These are all such important things that are bypassed by traditional medical training. When you can teach a patient why they should make lifestyle changes, and can be there to support them, they’re much more likely to make the changes and get themselves to better health.

A life-changing digital health tool

MDisrupt: How do you incorporate digital health tools into lifestyle medicine for your patients?

Arti Thangudu: The majority of my patients have diabetes. We use continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). And it has been fantastic. With these CGM devices, we can see the patient’s blood sugar in real time. So I can see exactly what their blood sugars have been doing all day, and they can too. And they don’t have to use a fingerstick anymore.

Studies have shown the more times a patient takes a blood sugar, the better control they have, but more importantly, the better quality of life they have. And so now with these CGM systems, they can input what they ate. You can see exactly how foods, exercise, and sleep affect them and the patient gets real-time feedback.

I have informally studied my own patients. This is not a randomized controlled study. But I did a small study on patients whose intervention was continuous glucose monitoring and lifestyle coaching. And those patients dropped their hemoglobin A1c by 2% after three months. That’s like a 50% reduction in their risk of complications from diabetes. It’s also cost-effective. Every 2% somebody decreases their A1c, it saves the healthcare system at least $4,000 per year—although it could be much more than that. And in that little study, 75% of my patients who were taking insulin were off of insulin by the end.

It’s a huge improvement in quality of life, health, and cost. Can you imagine using this little tool, and then you go from four shots of insulin a day to none, just by changing your lifestyle? That’s really motivating.

Making digital health better

MDisrupt: What are some of the biggest challenges in digital health?

Arti Thangudu: One is the evidence base. There are a lot of at-home lab tests, or testing that you can order online direct-to-consumer. They say they’re evidence-based, but then when somebody who’s a physician or scientist reads that evidence, they can recognize that it’s not at all evidence-based.

A lot of healthtech products are done in a silo and the physician is practicing in a silo. There’s no connection between the patient’s physician and the technology. And physicians don’t know how to interpret the data given to the patient from these tech solutions. If the physician can’t help interpret the data, it makes the patient lose trust.

If there’s a solution that wants to be really big, we need to get the patient’s physicians on board. Or the tech companies need to have a physician that they can send patients to who understands that tech. If we work together as physicians and a digital health team, we can make these products all the more robust and meaningful for patients. Digital health has so much potential—we can’t alienate doctors from it, because it’s the future. We, as physicians, have to get on board, and we have to make these digital tools usable by both patients and physicians. We can do so much together.

MDisrupt: What is your dream digital health tool for lifestyle medicine?

Arti Thangudu: If we could integrate the continuous glucose monitor plus our patients’ dietary and exercise logs, and then create an AI-sourced daily feedback model for them, supported by a health coach or nurse and into the clinical model—with the physician in that same team—that would be amazing for patients with diabetes. I know there are tools getting pretty close to that, but it seems like still there’s a bit of limitation with the physician being part of the team.

Doctors and patients as allies

MDisrupt: What will the doctor-patient relationship look like in 10 years?

Arti Thangudu: My hope is that we, as a community, recognize the value of that relationship. And we as patients and physicians fight to get it back, because doctors and patients are on the same side.

Patients feel frustrated. They’re rushed through their appointment and they blame the doctor because that’s the person in front of them. We need to take a step back and say, “Well, the system is making this doctor have to see 35 patients a day to keep their office open.”

If that same doctor could be in a situation where they saw 12 patients a day, would they be able to deliver better care? The answer, 99.9% of the time is, absolutely. I’ll tell you a story. I consult for a company that takes care of retired police and fire. I have more time to take care of these patients because it is not an insurance-based clinic.

I saw a patient for hypothyroidism and pre-diabetes. After I spent 20 minutes with her, taking a really thorough history, she said, “Doctor, I have to tell you something. You’ve seen me before.” And I was like, “Really? When?” And she said, “In your old clinic. It was really rushed—I must’ve spent three minutes with you. I never went back because the experience was so bad.” I was horrified! I said, “I hope I can make it up to you.” She said, “You already have. I recognize that you were put in a bad situation. Now I’m really excited to be on this journey with you.”

The same doctor can be put in a bad situation or a good situation, and that’s going to affect the care they provide. And so for things to improve in the future, the system really, really needs to change. We as doctors and patients need to recognize that the system isn’t necessarily helping us and maybe move outside of the system until the system decides to catch up. And really be our own advocates.

At MDisrupt we believe that the most impactful health products should make it to market quickly. We connect digital health innovators to the healthcare industry experts and scientists they need to responsibly accelerate product development, commercialization, adoption, and scale.

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

And check out our blog and services!