Making the Patient Experience Better

Making the Patient Experience Better

Jennifer Swoyer, DO

Meet Jennifer Swoyer, DO, who leads the family medicine residency program at AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center in La Grange, Illinois.

podcast available

Dr. Swoyer is a family physician who has been in practice for over 20 years. Her passion lies in teaching and clinical medicine, helping underserved populations, and improving access to health and wellness programs.

Health consumers driving change

MDisrupt: How is the traditional family practice evolving to meet the demands of health consumers?  

Jennifer Swoyer: Family medicine is evolving quickly, as are most aspects of medicine. For primary care providers, the pandemic shed new light on how we need to integrate technology to improve the quality of care for our patients.

For example, telehealth has been around for a while, but with the pandemic, there were changes that allowed us to be able to integrate it better. The beauty of telehealth is that we were able to screen patients differently, do follow up visits more easily, and stop limiting patients to the schedules that we set. We were able to be much more flexible in making sure that patients got the care that they need and deserve—and this is here to stay.

Technology to engage patients and improve health

MDisrupt: It’s been estimated that there are somewhere between 200K to 400K avoidable, preventable deaths each year in the US. How can physicians partner with health innovators to improve those stats?

Jennifer Swoyer: For medical professionals, preventing deaths is always our goal. Technology, depending on how it’s utilized, can really become a team approach between the provider and patient. The best thing about point-of-care technology is that the individual who has the disease or condition being monitored now has a daily opportunity to understand their own health. That allows me to do a better job as a provider and it becomes more of an opportunity for us to prevent bad outcomes. There are many examples of where we can use these technologies to help this partnership work better.

When we talk about population health and social determinants of health, we’ve seen the healthcare landscape change over the last few years. Healthcare systems have consolidated services to try and create one-stop shopping experiences: If you need to go see your provider, you can also get your X-ray and your labs, everything done in one location. This is really great and improves convenience. When health systems moved to single locations, however, they removed a lot of the providers that were in the community and consolidated them, reducing some of the access. Having mobile clinics that go out to shelters or large church organizations is an amazing outreach opportunity where you can reach a large population and then connect them with technology.

A call to action

MDisrupt: Many in the MDisrupt audience are entrepreneurs who have access to capital, technology, and engineers to build solutions. How can we help?

Jennifer Swoyer: Digital innovators are focusing on important problems that we need to solve, but to truly solve problems requires the right input. Providers in an urban setting, for example, may bring up a very different set of needs than providers in a rural setting. Engaging entrepreneurs and digital thinkers to incorporate views from many types of providers will help align how technology is utilized and ultimately change the trajectory of patient care.

What physicians need from digital health  

MDisrupt: As a provider, what do you see as the most important components of a digital health product?

Jennifer Swoyer: I look at digital health products through two different lenses: patient-forward technology and physician-centered technology. In terms of patient-forward, I look for technology that is usable by the patient and builds ownership and accountability, which will then help me, as the provider, help them manage their health differently. If the technology is physician-centered then it really needs to be technology that is going to help physicians do their jobs better by improving patient outcomes, more easily meeting quality measures, and saving time. Ideal solutions will improve patient satisfaction and physician well-being.

Meeting patients where they are

MDisrupt: Is there something you’ve changed your opinion on since you started practicing medicine?

Jennifer Swoyer: There can be numerous factors that contribute to individuals being successful in managing their genetic predisposition and lifestyle-created conditions. I’ve realized that my job is to work with someone where they are to get the best results and not necessarily focus on all the things that they need to do. For example, when we talk about obesity or diabetes, we focus on the type of diet and exercise you need. Those are things I will continue to talk about, but you have to look at where someone is in their life and what they are facing on a daily basis. If your meal supply is supplemented by a food pantry, you no longer have the same control over the foods you eat. We need to make sure the solutions we are providing and the advice that we are giving work with the individual’s social needs. This is the piece where I have changed the most. I ask questions very differently. I try to work with people where they are and help them get to where they should be.

Bringing healthcare home

MDisrupt: How will traditional health systems do things differently to adapt to a new model of healthcare?

Jennifer Swoyer: We’re all connected all the time now. Continuing to utilize the tools that almost everyone has—a cell phone, an iPad, a laptop—is part of where we need to start. The healthcare landscape is going to continue to change, and it should. Hospitals will be for the sickest patients and people who are less sick will—I hope—no longer be hospitalized and instead will be home-monitored remotely through digital tools.

Providers who are not in an acute setting like the emergency room, but who are part of a primary care practice, will be linked into how the followup gets done and will have access to daily technology for that individual.

As a family medicine physician, I still see patients in the hospital. Patients will ask me,”How long am I going to continue to feel tired?” I always give my math, which is not scientific but is founded on my experience: Every day you spend in the hospital is a week of recovery. We could do better by recuperating at home in our own beds if we could be monitored.

Advice for innovators

MDisrupt: What advice would you give a founder who wants to create tools for better health and wellness?  

Jennifer Swoyer: Most physicians go into medicine because we love what we do. It’s an art and a passion. I want to help people be well. I’m most willing to adopt technologies that help me improve my patients’ health, and reduce burnout. It’s critical to look at who is the adopter of the technology and whether it will help me provide better care. Can that adoption of technology ensure that my billing and collections are better? You don’t want technology to be an additional burden on an already-busy life and schedule.

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

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.

Are Telemedicine and Virtual Care Here to Stay?

Are Telemedicine and Virtual Care Here to Stay?

Aditi U Joshi

Meet Aditi U. Joshi, MD, MSc, chair of the telehealth committee for the American College of Emergency Physicians and former senior advisor of acute care telehealth at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

podcast available

Dr. Joshi has worked in telehealth for over eight years, most recently leading Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s on-demand telehealth program. She holds an assistant professorship in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Thomas Jefferson. Dr. Joshi is a champion of health innovation and has a passion for training students and residents about how technology is fundamentally transforming how we interact and care for patients.

An early adopter of telehealth

MDisrupt: How did your passion for health innovation and specifically telehealth evolve?

Aditi Joshi: I graduated residency in 2009 and started my career in a busy emergency department. After a few years, I had symptoms of burnout and decided to try something different. I found an advertisement for Doctor on Demand and decided to apply. This was in 2013 when they were just beginning. I was one of their first doctors and eventually became the assistant medical director. During my time there, I helped develop best-practice protocols to ensure patients were getting a quality visit.

In 2015, Thomas Jefferson University started a huge enterprise-wide telehealth program that piqued my interest. I eventually joined Jefferson in the department of emergency medicine and was the medical director of our telehealth program. My role here has been interesting because, as an academic center, there’s room to try new things. This is also encouraged by our CEO, Dr. Steve Klasko, who has a commitment to health innovation, creating home-based health care, and improving health equity. The team here has expanded and achieved a number of things like a direct-to-consumer program, a triage program in our emergency department, and telehealth education. We also have a telehealth fellowship for post-residency training.

MDisrupt: What is the difference between telehealth and telemedicine?

Aditi Joshi: Telemedicine is the actual service between the patient and the provider. Simply, it’s direct care or a medical encounter. The term telehealth is much broader because it’s not only the services but also includes preventive maintenance, follow-up, and the regulatory portions of telehealth. It’s a more relevant, all-encompassing term. In the future we’re going to realize that telemedicine, or telehealth, is just going to be part of healthcare and the “tele” is going to go away. We may call it virtual care, but eventually, it is just going to be healthcare.

Bringing telehealth to more people

MDisrupt: What are some of the challenges and solutions of adoption in telehealth?

Aditi Joshi: Reimbursement tends to be the biggest reason that clinics and hospitals have shied away from telehealth. It was viewed as an added amount of work without being able to charge for it. With the Emergency Care Act, telehealth got reimbursed to a much broader degree. In respect to that, telehealth visits cost less for both patients and payers. Of course, the caveat is sometimes we need to send patients to a higher level of care because not everything can be done via telehealth. When I first started out, there wasn’t much engagement by either clinicians or patients in telehealth. Patients would pay out of pocket for these types of visits—a limiting factor for many people. As more payers have adopted telemedicine, whether it’s a contract with companies that supply direct-to-consumer telemedicine or a hospital system, it has continued to evolve.

A second challenge is cost. The setup costs to cover technology can be prohibitive for small practices or hospitals that can’t buy the necessary software and hardware. With the realization that telehealth needs to be integrated into the future of healthcare, it’s important to consider the cost to establish these services.

Internet connectivity and access to phones and smart devices is a third major challenge. During the pandemic, there were a number of people in Philadelphia who could not access our platform due to connectivity and technology access. Given the dire emergency situation, my colleagues applied for a grant to do targeted outpatient testing via a mobile van. There’s a second round of grants that focuses on access and expansion of devices and internet connectivity. It’s probably the first time the government has really put that much money into this type of health innovation.

In the future, we’re going to have to figure out how we access rural areas. Today it’s being done with local community interventions such as setting up kiosks or enabling people to access the internet by coming to libraries and community centers.

How innovators can make a difference

MDisrupt: Many in our audience are digital health innovators who have access to capital, technologies, and engineers to build solutions. What could we do better and what are we not doing enough of?

Aditi Joshi:  It has been a beautiful thing to see how many people are committed to trying to improve healthcare with all of the digital health solutions that are out there.

When it comes to innovating in healthcare, it can be very complicated, so at the very least you have to understand the healthcare system and how it works.

The biggest complaint from clinicians is that health innovators don’t understand hospital workflows and so they create solutions that make it harder for us to get our jobs done. Physicians are overburdened, so adding something that isn’t useful or efficient or that can’t be reimbursed ends up being a problem. Some ways to get around this are really understanding what your solution is and ensuring that what you’re creating is solving a problem in the first place. I will say that speaking to clinicians early on is a really good idea—with the caveat that we don’t always know the right solution. It’s great to get people who are outside of medicine to innovate, but it’s important to have someone onboard, like a chief medical officer or an advisor, who understands how clinicians practice and how patients respond or use the solution.

MDisrupt: What advice would you give a founder who is interested in telehealth solutions and improving patient care?

Aditi Joshi: First and foremost, understand what you’re trying to solve and get the right team around you—people who work in a similar fashion and have similar goals. I usually give this advice to residents or medical students, but it also works for anybody who is starting a company or has an innovation.

When I started out in telehealth, I really enjoyed it. I kept saying yes to things. I said “yes” to being the assistant medical director, at Doctor on Demand. I said “yes” to Jefferson. And here at Jefferson, every time there was a new program where people came to us and said they want to try this telehealth solution, our department would say “yes” and then we would do it. It didn’t always work! We have a lot of programs we never brought to fruition, but every time we went through the thought process and the workflow it became easier and easier. Now if a health innovator were to ask me, “Can you set up a process to do this type of program?” I would say, “Absolutely!” I can do that because I’ve had practice through trial and error.

Telehealth, ten years out

MDisrupt: What will an interaction with the health system look like in ten years?

Aditi Joshi: I love this question because this is my favorite thing to work on. At the American College of Emergency Physicians, where I’m chair of telehealth, we have a task force looking into how we are going to define emergency medicine for the next five to 10 years because of telehealth.

First, there’s going to be a lot of home-based healthcare for patients with both acute and chronic disease. We’ll be able to use the emergency medical system for acute care and deliver a lot of what we can do in the emergency department at people’s homes. We can also employ more cross-consults which will allow patients to access specialists. We’ll be able to observe patients at home and take better care of them.

There’s also going to be better health literacy once we figure out how to make it palatable. We need to uncomplicate the terms we sometimes use in medicine, so patients can have more control over what they’re doing and what they understand for their health care. The future is going to rely on more individual practice and giving patients the ability to understand and improve their health along with us will be essential.

Medical education is going to change significantly for medical students, residents, and care providers. We’ll also have to continue to understand how smartphones are optimized to work in the healthcare space. They are part of our daily life and we need to make them part of our healthcare, too.

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

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.

4 Things Digital Health Innovators Need to Know about Compliance

4 Things Digital Health Innovators Need to Know about Compliance

Deb Somerville

Deborah Somerville is a seasoned compliance expert with deep experience in healthcare and digital health environments. She’s held leadership positions at Everlywell, Genomic Health (now part of Exact Sciences), and Genentech, among others. Here, she shares four important lessons about the emerging area of compliance as it relates to digital health companies.

1. Gray areas are the norm.

Laboratory-developed tests (LDTs) have “regulatory discretion” with the FDA, which means that the FDA tends to pass off regulation of these tests to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). That leaves lots of question marks for digital health.

Digital health founders sometimes think that bringing in a compliance officer will get them a quick answer to the question of “Can we do this?” But there are not a lot of legal precedents or enforcement activity in our space. Market access for digital health is a murky soup—a lot depends on who you are marketing to. A compliance expert can help you clarify what is possible; sometimes you need to take a matrix approach to sort out exactly what applies to your product.

2. Compliance matters after an FDA clearance.

The agencies are saying “Tell us what you’re doing, and keep really good records, because we are all figuring this out.” For example, it’s important to set up a system to track communications. You don’t want to rely only on a verbal agreement. Transcribe all phone calls so you have a permanent record, send them back to the FDA, and say “Did this capture our conversation?”

It’s a requirement to track adverse events, including when the authorization is an emergency use authorization (EUA). The FDA is also interested in usability data, which is information beyond what is required for authorization. It helps with your relationship with the FDA to keep a database. For example, how do people feel about at-home tests? Do they sit on the kitchen counter for several days before they get mailed? What do the instructions say, and does feedback indicate they are easily followed?

Something else about working with regulators: If you make a mistake, and can show that there was a process and internal controls in place for decision making, and after the fact realized you didn’t use super-great judgment in reaching your decision—chances are the regulators won’t be extremely harsh. This was generally the case in life sciences overall, and now we are seeing this in digital health, too. And, it’s important to be proactive when you do discover such a “miss.” Self-disclosure is key.

3. Seize opportunities to influence emerging requirements.

Privacy, for instance, is one area where this is possible: The use of AI is expanding, and the ethical use of data derived by AI is a significant area. Will there be more regulation in this area? Changing regulations? It’s a great time for digital health innovators to get in and mold that regulation, for example, by lobbying, or by joining with other companies to respond with a white paper.

4. Expect a healthy tension between compliance and marketing.

For example, when you’re going through the FDA authorization process, once the FDA is familiar with a product, they will say, based on the product’s intended use, “Ok, this product will be called XYZ.” And it might be a very long name, which for a marketing person might be challenging to use in various media. But in this instance there is no room for negotiation—that is just how the FDA works.

In other instances, as a compliance professional, to find the best path forward I first have to think like a business person. Social media is a great example: How can we say what needs to be said in that media where we may have only a tiny bit of space? The way I think it through is, “What is the risk that I’m protecting the company from? How likely is that risk to be exploited? Can I quantify it—i.e., worst case, what would be the cost to the company? How much wiggle room—if any—do we have to take on a bit more risk?” The decision will be made by consensus of the executives, and rightly so, but the recommendation comes from the compliance person. As a team, we must be aligned to achieve our objectives, so education is a factor in that equation, too.

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

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.

How can digital health innovators successfully sell to health systems?

How can digital health innovators successfully sell to health systems?

Ron Rerko

Meet Ron Rerko, head of clinical solutions at Soteria Precision Medicine Foundation and executive director of genomics at Family Care Path.

podcast available

With over 20 years of experience in cancer research—and 13 years at the Cleveland Clinic as director of genomics in the Genomic Medicine Institute—Ron has developed and implemented programs in medical genetics, genomic medicine, pharmacogenomics, and telehealth, as well as extensive business development efforts.

Digital health startups don’t always take the optimal approach when it comes to engaging health systems. Ron shares his advice for best practices with the MDisrupt community.

Healthcare today

MDisrupt: Can you describe the state of the healthcare system?

Ron Rerko: Health systems of today mostly practice sick care, not well care. Within this system, costs are rising faster than annual incomes and this is not sustainable. The cost of insurance premiums is outpacing the ability to pay. Family costs have increased by 180% since 2000. And 45% of people in the US say they would have difficulty paying an unexpected $500 medical bill. We have a tenuous, fragile system that desperately needs help and innovation. And, unfortunately, the cost of care does not always equate with good care. The healthcare ecosystem, which is like a cottage industry of a lot of different parts, is trying to figure out what the future holds given immense financial constraints, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and multiple disruptors moving into the market.

How to pitch to health systems

MDisrupt: How should digital health entrepreneurs pitch their products to health system executives?

Ron Rerko: Pitch a product that opens up new revenue sources and/or saves money, and that provides positive outcomes for their patients. Hospital systems are dealing with millions of dollars of losses, especially due to the pandemic, and are up against fundamental performance measure changes with implementation of insurance reimbursement in a value-based care model.

The first thing you have to do is understand your business champion—an executive, physician, nurse, or researcher—and know what’s important to them and how you can help solve their problems. Leave the sales mentality at home. Be their partner and understand their pain points and show how you’re going to help them instead of just selling to them.

Avoid these rookie mistakes

MDisrupt: What are mistakes digital health companies make in selling to health systems?

Ron Rerko: Let me focus on things you should not do and then we’ll figure out how to craft the best value prop. The thing you should not do is go into systems cold. You’ve got to understand the system and the culture. You need to understand the type of individuals you are talking to and the challenges they are dealing with.

They have jobs that they’re trying to do, stresses that they have to deal with. So you need to connect with them as a person. It is best to have a “Sherpa” or someone along with you to navigate the system, because if you try to go in cold it usually doesn’t work.

And one thing to remember is, you cannot make a strategic mistake. Once you go into a system and make a blunder, that usually gets around. Hospitals have very long term memories about companies and people. So if you make a mistake or two in a system, you probably won’t even be able to come back for a while. You want to educate yourself and make sure that you’re approaching the opportunity the best way possible.
Also hospitals are ecosystems, not single entity units. You’ve got to figure out the best way to enter the system and what’s the value prop for that specific entity.

The future of genomics in healthcare

MDisrupt: What will it take for genomics to be standard practice within the healthcare ecosystem?

Ron Rerko: The standard practice of genomics is not going to be an “if”—it’s a “when.” It’s already in practice in a lot of places. Cleveland Clinic, for example, has a very advanced genomic medicine institute. Genomics is used in cancer treatment, pharmacogenomics, hereditary cancer identification, cardiovascular care, and non-invasive prenatal testing.

The problem is that it’s very complicated and a rapidly moving field. A lot of this information has really come out only in the last decade or so. Physicians who were in medical school even just 10 years ago may not have had a lot of this information. The generation of new information and the integration of this into clinical care are moving at a rapid rate.

We’re finding new and informative things every day and using sequencing to look at your DNA, to determine what drugs you metabolize, what foods may be good for you, and what diseases you are at risk for. Physicians are expected to see more patients, incorporate more info into care and at a faster rate. They don’t have a lot of time to incorporate this complex information into their clinical workflow—for example, how to understand the reports and make sure it’s the best thing for their patients. Physicians are just struggling to keep up with the demands of their normal practices, let alone start to integrate these advanced products.

Soteria Precision Medicine Foundation is utilizing genomic medicine to help people dealing with cancer and acting as an advocate for the patient and supporting them with their oncologist. It is a slow process because all the pieces need to integrate into a clinical workflow. It is happening, but will be difficult continuously integrating advancements over the next couple of years.

Why listening is essential

MDisrupt: What advice would you give digital health innovators as they are developing products and pitching to health systems?

Ron Rerko: There have been times during a meeting where I’ve talked for two minutes and thought, “This is going to work much better if I listen and learn about their problems.” I’ve had to pivot and understand more about what they are going through, what they need help with, and then understand how my offering could or could not benefit them. We end up developing a rapport and a connection because we’ve listened to each other.

One of the things I would tell a founder of a company is, don’t bring your ego into the room. Just leave it at the door and say, “I’m here to help and I’m trying to work with you.” And another piece of advice is not being afraid to fail. If something didn’t work, I’ll step back and say, “Why didn’t it work and how can I adjust in the future?” I’m even appreciative when a potential customer will tell me why it’s not working and what they saw, because that allows me to learn more and make my pitches better. It’s being able to accept those criticisms. That’s part of the process.

At MDisrupt we believe 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 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, MDisrupt can help. Talk to us.

How Health Economists Add Value to Digital Health

How Health Economists Add Value to Digital Health

Ragan Hart

Ragan Hart, MS (public health genetics), PhD (health economics), is a co-founder of MDisrupt and its director of operations. Previously, she served as entrepreneur-in-residence at F-Prime Capital. Ragan recently celebrated her one-year anniversary with MDisrupt, and sat down for an interview to talk about the career path that brought her from science to startup.

Bringing innovation to the clinic

MDisrupt: Why did you choose to study health economics?

Ragan Hart: I was an exercise science major doing lab work in the genetics of diabetes, and I wanted to better understand genomics tools and sequencing. That led to an interdisciplinary graduate program in public health genetics. I was very interested in biostatistics and how to get these technologies to the clinic.

With colleagues who were physicians, research scientists, genetic counselors and others in an academic medical center focused on genetic testing, I kept hearing, “Payers don’t want to pay for this.” And so I asked, “What type of evidence do the payers need? Are we having conversations with payers?” And the response was, “No, we haven’t been engaging payers.”

That was pivotal. I said, I need to train in applied health economics to understand payer decision making. Economics and business are two things I wish had been introduced to sooner.

MDisrupt: What did you envision for yourself in terms of a career?  

Ragan Hart: I definitely knew I wanted to work in industry. I didn’t know the term commercialization at that point, but I was absolutely trying to find my way into commercialization. I knew I had an understanding of startups in the genomics diagnostics space. So I started following the market of early stage venture capital into a set of these companies. I really started to understand the different levers at play for health tech adoption.

MDisrupt: Why did you decide to join MDisrupt?  

Ragan Hart: Because I absolutely understood the mission that MDisrupt was founded to serve—getting the most impactful health products to market faster and more responsibly—and I wanted to be part of that. I wanted to have a role in connecting scientists and health experts to digital health founders. I pride myself on being able to appreciate new ideas; I value a lot of lessons learned from the tech sector and I want to be part of figuring out how we can bring this into health care.

How health economists add value 

MDisrupt: How do you see health economists as helpful to digital health companies?

Ragan Hart: Health economists can help digital health companies by identifying:

  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • What are their economic incentives?
  • How do we build a product that can meet those incentives?
  • What evidence do we need to generate?
  • How do we assess how well the product performs in a clinical setting?
  • What’s the added value? For example, is this improving quality of life? Are cost savings being generated?

From a value proposition perspective, the digital health companies may have a really awesome product. But it’s also critical to their success to be able to articulate why their product should displace standard of care. Applied health economists can support economic evaluation for cost effectiveness studies—evaluating the new health technology against whatever is currently being used and comparing cost effectiveness.

Often, costs are going to be increased by investing in new health technology. But we’re getting this gain in the quality outcome or the health outcomes. The next step of data that needs to be generated is, can the purchaser who’s evaluating this technology afford it?

And so applied health economists can generate budget impact data, honing in on the financial consequences for adopting the new health technology. These are things that a health system needs to know, and in an ideal world, maybe the health system would do that kind of analysis. But they don’t necessarily put resources into doing it, so it really has to be done by the digital health company themselves. However, in the healthcare industry’s transition to value-based care, we may start to see more health systems identifying gaps from a cost-benefit perspective.

Integrity as the North Star

MDisrupt: Can you describe a challenge you’ve faced that’s been formative to the way you work now? 

Ragan Hart: In the academic space, something came up where a senior individual was operating without scientific integrity. The challenge was a dilemma for whether or not to say, yes, we’re willing to accept your lack of scientific integrity. There would have been limited consequences for everyone involved. I was really fortunate that my advisor said, look, here are the two options. And this one—to accept the lack of scientific integrity—is not an option. And that forever changed my ability to be able to navigate situations from that perspective. 

MDisrupt: Can you say more about that? 

Ragan Hart: It allowed me to anchor myself in thinking through the competing incentives, and, going back to my economic roots, that everything is about tradeoffs. It was a valuable lesson in what’s the North Star, and, when are we allowing ourselves to veer away from that? At what cost?

Health startups need scientists

MDisrupt: What advice would you give other scientists who might be thinking about working with a health startup?

Ragan Hart: Do it! Startups building health products need individuals who have critical thinking skills and subject matter expertise. They also need to generate data and evidence that their products work and are safe, effective and clinically useful.

Oftentimes, scientists are conflicted and wonder, Well, am I still going to be in an environment that maintains the academic rigor, intellectual curiosity, and stimulation of the academic environment? The answer is yes, tenfold in a startup environment. Because you’re also getting to cultivate new skills on top of contributing domain expertise you already have. It’s incredibly enriching.

Fresh ways to work

MDisrupt: What have you discovered in your role at MDisrupt that’s been fresh and surprising for you? 

Ragan Hart: I’ve been exposed to the value of marketing. And building trust with colleagues and working in a team. Previous environments have been quite siloed and building that bridge and rapport hasn’t been valued as much. It’s so valuable, because we’re trying to build and execute on the same mission. And I’ve learned that it’s OK to depend on others. Necessary, in fact.

MDisrupt: Can you say more about that? 

Ragan Hart: Building off of that trust piece, there are too many critical things that need to be completed to meet the goal, and not one of us can complete them on our own.

MDisrupt: What would you say to scientists who might be interested in joining MDisrupt?

Ragan Hart: It’s an easy way to work with digital health innovators. It’s about being able to apply your scientific skills in a new environment. And the energy and pace are invigorating! You are able to contribute to getting your science placed in the hands of patients or providers or health systems or whoever the intended user is, faster and more responsibly with data. Scientists don’t often have that opportunity.

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

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.