Seasoned healthcare veteran Chet Robson, DO, MHCDS, FAAFP, explains his move from big pharmacy chain to early-stage startup.
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From Walgreens to MDisrupt
Last month, I made a huge career shift. I left my position as chief clinical officer of Walgreens—a multibillion-dollar corporation—to become chief medical officer at MDisrupt, a platform company connecting digital health companies with healthcare experts. MDisrupt is a startup that’s just two years old. As might be expected, I was asked a lot of questions, usually some variation of “Why MDisrupt? Why now?”
During my seven years at Walgreens, my team and I evaluated thousands of companies, programs, devices, products, and services, assessing their potential value to our millions of customers. Our goal was to ensure that clinical risk was minimized, and clinical benefits maximized, for every solution that Walgreens made available.
Central to this effort was an evidence-based review process I developed, drawing on evidence-based medicine as well as on healthcare device and product assessment methodologies. We focused on evaluating healthcare products and services through the lens of several key questions, among them: What is the nature of the evidence supporting this solution? Does the product or service measurably affect outcomes? Is it appropriate and cost-effective for its intended use?
It’s not easy for an individual, a company, an employer, a payer, or a researcher to discern the answers to these questions. But it’s essential—especially given the explosion of innovation from many different sectors (tech, payers, pharma, government, delivery systems, providers, and patients) seeking to improve healthcare. And now that the pandemic has accelerated the development of digital health, assessing the evidence and performance of these solutions has become increasingly urgent, as this article in Health Affairs makes clear.
Building better health products together
Several years into my work at Walgreens, MDisrupt’s launch announcement caught my attention. MDisrupt’s mission is to ensure that the most impactful health products make it to market both quickly and responsibly. The company connects digital health innovators to the scientists and healthcare industry experts that they need to optimally build, commercialize, and scale health products. I thought at the time that linking these two sectors was a fantastic way to build better solutions than either sector could create on its own. And I paid attention as the company grew, assembling a highly talented network of health care experts in a short period of time.
What really convinced me to become part of MDisrupt, though, was meeting Ruby Gadelrab and Ragan Hart, the company’s co-founders. I knew that each brought impressive credentials and accomplishments from their past roles: Ruby’s experience as an executive with Affymetrix, Invitae, and 23andMe, and Ragan’s PhD in health economics and Masters in public health genetics were a wonderful complement to my background as a physician, chief medical information officer, and chief clinical officer. The synergies were obvious, and our initial conversations always extended well beyond the allotted time.
The more we talked, the more clear it became to me that joining MDisrupt would be an opportunity to apply my expertise across a wide range of healthcare sectors. And so I decided to make the leap.
The MDisrupt advantage
MDisrupt is uniquely resourced and positioned not only to meet the needs of many healthcare startups, but also to reduce risk and optimize opportunities for established healthcare entities that are now innovating and evolving. MDisrupt is already providing services to a diverse range of entities: digital health startups, labs, payers, pharma, contract research organizations, health systems, biotech, and delivery model innovators. And although MDisrupt is based in Austin, Texas, over 25% of the company’s business is with global companies headquartered outside the US: in the UK, Spain, Italy, and Brazil, to name a few.
It’s no exaggeration to say that I’m thrilled with my new role. My colleagues at MDisrupt share my belief that innovation requires knowledge, creativity, and absolute customer/patient focus to produce useful, effective products. Together, I believe we can play a significant and meaningful role in transforming healthcare for the better.
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.