How Healthtech Companies Can Avoid “Death by Pilot” When Working With Health Systems

How Healthtech Companies Can Avoid “Death by Pilot” When Working With Health Systems

Collaborations between healthtech startups and healthcare systems are being announced left and right these days. As you embark on the customer journey, you will undoubtedly be asked about the value your product or service adds and, most relevant to this conversation, whether there is a role for a pilot project in demonstrating the value you bring to a health system. Is a pilot just a hoop to jump through on the way to a sale—or can a pilot be a key tool in your mission to bring value to your customers?

Health system pilots can be conducted for free, at a discount, or at full price. They can test proof of concept, validate a technology, or be used as part of a sales strategy. Regardless of the specific type, I would argue that pilots can be an effective mechanism to make the case for your product or service. However, the key is to ensure that the outcomes of the pilot are of value to both the startup and the health system.

Generally, health systems are looking for solutions that solve one of more of the following problems:

  • Does it improve patient health outcomes?
  • Does it reduce healthcare spend?
  • Does it increase access to care?
  • Does It improve the patient and/or physician experience?

So how do you actually deliver a meaningful, valuable pilot? Here are three crucial things to consider:

Are your endpoints convincing enough to lead to a sale?

Here’s an example. Take a company, let’s call it eMD, with an AI tool designed to automate a key process. The eMD team has had positive conversations with a health system customer, “West Care,” and the next step is to do a pilot with one particular team.

As is typical with technology validation pilots, this one is designed to provide evidence that the AI tool does what it sets out to do. The results of the automated process will be compared to the results generated by the West Care human team. If the results are comparable or better, the pilot will be deemed a success. But is that enough to convince West Care decision makers to move forward with a vendor agreement? If not, thinking through how the following questions can help create a better pilot.

What else could you aim to discover, and what will you and your customer learn from the results?

Consider incorporating an endpoint that is of particular value to your health system customer. This, of course, requires you to understand what your customer needs. In particular, you have to identify an outcome that would be so valuable that a customer would actually pay for it.

In the case of eMD and West Care, the pilot is only designed to report on the technology validation endpoint. It may also be important for eMD to do a study comparing the time needed for a human to do the specific task with the time needed by the AI tool. This gives decision-makers a tangible basis for financial decisions.

You want the results of your pilot to lead to deeper conversations around value. For example, could the AI tool capture more revenue by making the process more efficient? If implementing this AI tool measurably frees up staff time, what other revenue-generating activities can those employees be redirected to? If your pilot doesn’t provide evidence to answer value-based questions like these, you haven’t made the most of the opportunity.

What action do the results of the pilot need to lead to, for both you and your customer?

It’s important to have a clear plan of action post-pilot, and that means you need to define when the pilot is over. For eMD, a pilot may consist of two weeks of onboarding and training, followed by two weeks of the AI tool performing the process, then a final week to analyze and present the data. If that was everything, though, the West Care team would likely be left wondering where things would go next.

To guide the outcome toward what you want, you need to set expectations for the presentation of the pilot summary and findings. What is the format and who needs to be present? Do not limit a final presentation to those directly involved with the pilot, as that may exclude key decision makers. Ensure that the person with buying power is in the room, or at least met with separately. Once you know your audience, think through what may be of greatest value in their decision-making and address it in the presentation of the findings.

It’s also a good idea to provide a roadmap to the health system partner outlining a few potential paths forward. The conversation should be driven by the evidence you’ve gathered, but it needs to get people’s wheels spinning about future possibilities. Where could we go from here? What would be required of each of us? What would be lost if we don’t continue this work together? Don’t assume that your audience will have next steps in mind. Instead, take time to explore the possibilities together.

Health systems need to know that a new healthtech solution will add value. Value can be delivered in many different ways, depending on the stage of your company.
Keep in mind that in the pilot phase, regardless of any compensation involved, the health system is investing the time and expertise of its people in testing your product. The outcomes you’re working side-by-side to achieve should be meaningful to both parties involved and lead the way to a value-driven purchase decision.

A pilot can be more than a necessary stepping stone to a bigger sale. If done well, a pilot can lay the foundation for your work with a key customer and demonstrate your commitment to bringing value to their organization.

The MDisrupt community of experts is committed to guiding healthtech entrepreneurs and health systems through the design, execution, and evaluation of impactful pilots. If you are a healthtech founder just embarking on the pilot process, or a seasoned entrepreneur in the midst of the journey, please reach out—we are happy to help.

Claire Kolar

Claire Kolar, PharmD, PhD

Dr. Claire Kolar is an experienced clinician, researcher, and strategy partner with a background in education, infusion and specialty pharmacy, and genomics. She is the Director of Operations at Fairview Ventures, a health system based venture group located in Minneapolis, MN, where she navigates the integration and implementation of new technologies into complex healthcare ecosystems. She also collaborates with health tech startups on business model development that add value to engagements with health system partners

If you are a healthtech company that requires help designing pilots or defining a strategy to work with health systems, MDisrupt can help, please click here

5 Key Takeaways from the 2020 Rock Health Summit

5 Key Takeaways from the 2020 Rock Health Summit

This past week, our team attended the 9th annual Rock Health Summit, a two-day digital health conference well worth attending for all stakeholders in the healthtech industry. As the first venture fund dedicated to early-stage digital health companies, Rock Health convened a really diverse set of speakers: from policy makers, to leaders in technology and medicine. With the summit taking place in virtual form this year, Rock Health did not disappoint in keeping the panelists and the Slack discussions engaging for attendees. Here are just some of the key takeaways from the event.

COVID-19: a crisis of opportunity

Several panelists commented that the current COVID pandemic has unfortunately highlighted just how severe the health inequity crisis is in the US.  Abner Mason of ConsejoSano shared that COVID-19 has not been the great equalizer—on the contrary, it has been the “great revealer”  that our healthcare system isn’t working equally for everyone.  Furthermore, Secretary Eric Hargan of HHS highlighted that the pandemic has also revealed trust issues with respect to the development of safe and effective coronavirus vaccine. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted health disparities, it has also rapidly accelerated the adoption of some digital health technologies, particularly telehealth.Many participants expressed optimism that digital health and telemedicine innovations can create a more accessible and equitable healthcare delivery system across the country. In fact, Aneesh Chopra, president of Care Journey, highlighted that 10M Medicare beneficiaries have had at least one telehealth consult, and one-third of frail elderly patients have accessed some form of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. He went on to say that the top-performing accountable care organizations in the country have had ~50% of patients engaged in telehealth during the COVID crisis. There is no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of telehealth: from just 11% of US consumers in 2019 to well over 46% during the COVID crisis, presenting a tremendous opportunity for the implementation of novel remote patient monitoring applications. 

Telehealth will persist long after the COVID crisis

While the pandemic spurred widespread adoption of telemedicine by necessity, many panelists commented that they believe it will persist far into the post-COVID era. With one third of Americans not having a primary care physician (PCP), Hill Ferguson (CEO, Doctor on Demand) says there is every reason to believe that telemedicine can address this need by offering virtual PCP consults, particularly for high-risk patients. Some speakers underlined the need for clear and consistent reimbursement rates as foundational to the broad adoption of telemedicine, particularly with the increased focus on value-based care. Another emerging dynamic is the interplay between brick-and-mortar and telehealth providers: Some predict an uptick in enabling “application access” between providers and patients, among  physicians, and between providers and payers, in order to provide seamless care coordination for telehealth patients.

When it comes to vulnerable patient populations, trust is foundational

Abner Mason, CEO of ConsejoSano said it best: We have an enormous trust deficit in our healthcare system, and to treat everyone the same is to say “You don’t matter.” Vulnerable patient populations have different concerns, constraints and needs.  When it comes to developing digital tech for these patient populations, “REAL (race, ethnicity and language) data is necessary but not sufficient: Companies must understand patient cultures. Mason says some health plans are finally investing in getting to know their patient populations but they have to do more—including collecting more social determinants of health (SDOH) data—because they are in a unique position to lead and drive change to care delivery models. Chris Klomp (CEO, Collective Medical) reminded us that we should be thinking “digital first, but not digital alone.” A logically-tuned IT infrastructure, he said, is one that is anticipatory and allows humans to do what technology can’t: Engage with other humans and build trust.

“Hire and Wire”: the key to creating racial diversity in digital health

One summit highlight was the panel on racial diversity in which  Rock Health presented some key findings from their survey data, including: 

  • Only white respondents felt that digital health has become more inclusive. Black and other minority respondents felt it has stayed the same, and 17% of Black founders felt it had gotten worse.
  • White and Asian founders are more likely to be backed by venture investment, while Black founders are more likely to bootstrap. This is a pretty important finding given that sustainable scale tends to be highly dependent on VC backing, 

A discussion that followed highlighted the disparity in funding available to minority versus white entrepreneurs. André Blackman (CEO, Onboard Health) said that the solution is building a diverse team and a diverse board. Tech companies need to be building teams that represent the consumers or patients they are building for. With Silicon Valley’s bias for white male founders (it’s estimated that 77% of VC backed founders are white), this was a particularly important topic for Rock Health to address. While many acknowledged the efforts of organizations like the American Medical Association and Peloton for making strides to address racial inequity, Sydney Thomas (Sr. Associate, Precursor Ventures) said she would like to see more capital going into minority-founded companies and, further, she would like to see white and Asian founders and investors acknowledge the disparity and actively work to build bridges across all races.

There were two additional highlights from this session: The first from Ulili Onovakpuri, a partner at Kapor Capital, who pointed out that investors invest only when they can relate to the problem. Therefore, they are constantly investing in companies and founders that solve problems for the “top of the pyramid.” And yet the bottom of the pyramid is infinitely bigger, with larger market sizes (better for investors) that need different, lower cost solutions. Investors need to think differently and humble themselves to learn. 

The second highlight came from Derrick Reyes, founder of Queerly Health. Reyes’  advice to the healthtech industry was HIRE or WIRE: Create opportunities to HIRE people from more diverse backgrounds or WIRE:write the check and invest in them.

Investment dollars are still flowing, despite the pandemic

When Silicon Valley Bank published its mid-year Healthcare Investments & Exits Report 2020, it was surprising to most that venture fundraising in healthcare had reached $10.4B in the first half  of 2020, nearly matching the 2019 full-year record. In a pandemic?? Yes, says Julie Yoo (General Partner at Andreessen-Horowitz), who went on to say that deal flow increased even more radically in Q3, with YTD deal volume up 22% over the third quarter of 2019. In fact, an increase in new investors is making the rounds more competitive.  A Rock Health report earlier this year showed that $5.4B was invested in the digital health space, in the first half of 2020 in the US alone, despite the pandemic—providing optimism for the space despite a difficult year, 

Thank you to the Rock Health team for bringing together such wonderful panelists and for drawing our attention, if even virtually, to some difficult but necessary topics. 

 1. McKinsey COVID-19 Consumer Survey, April 27th 2020

Morgan Donaldson, MDisrupt

Morgan Donaldson, VP of Business Development, MDisrupt

Morgan Donaldson is a business development executive with more than 15 years of experience bringing genomics technologies and molecular diagnostics to global markets (EMEA, LATAM, APAC, North America). She has developed international sales channels, managed business development teams, led product developments, led contract negotiations with Fortune 500s and participated in due diligence assessments. She has led the international growth strategy for several genomics startups in the Bay Area and in Canada.

If you are healthtech company who is trying to develop and scale a health product and need access to industry leading health experts, 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

LinkedIn: Pamela Pierce Palmer, MD

Jennifer M. Joe, MD

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

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

Iman Abuzeid, MD

Company: Incredible Health
Preventive primary care, powered by technology

Twitter: @ImanAbuzeid
LinkedIn: Iman Abuzeid, MD

Robin Berzin, MD

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

Twitter: @robinberzinmd
LinkedIn: Robin Berzin, MD

Robin Berzin, MD

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

Twitter: @robinberzinmd
LinkedIn: Robin Berzin, MD

Michelle Longmire, MD

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

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.

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

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

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

Twitter: @joybhosaiMD

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

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

LinkedIn: Alexandra Greenhill, MD

Sarah Welsh, MBBS

Company: Hanx
Female-founded intimate wellness products

LinkedIn: Sarah Welsh, MBBS

Vedrana Högqvist Tabor

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

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

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

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

LinkedIn:Monica Bolbjerg, MD

Evelyn Chan, MD, MPH

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

LinkedIn:Evelyn Chan, MD, MPH

Suzanne Clough, MD

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

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

LinkedIn:Michelle Dipp, MD, PhD

Aakriti Gupta, MD

Company:Heartbeat Health
Personalized care, starting with cardiology

LinkedIn:Aakriti Gupta, MD

Chitra Akileswaran, MD, MBA

Company: Cleo
Family benefits platform made for working parents

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

LinkedIn:Subha Airan-Javia MD

Pardis Sabeti, MD, PhD

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

LinkedIn:Pardis Sabeti, MD, PhD

Rasha Gadelrab, MBBS

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

LinkedIn:Rasha Gadelrab, MBBS

Breanne Everett MD

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


Julielynn Wong, MD, MPH, FACPM

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

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

Toyin Ajayi, MD

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

Twitter: @toyinajayidoc
LinkedIn:Toyin Ajayi, MD

Jennifer Meller, MD, MBA

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

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

Carolyn Lam, MD

Complete AI decision tool for echocardiography

Twitter: @iamcardio
LinkedIn:Carolyn Lam, MD

Natalie Davis MD

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

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.

LinkedIn:Karen Otte, MD

Cheryl Lee Eberting, MD

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

LinkedIn: Cheryl Lee Eberting, MD

Susan Gross, MD

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

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.

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

LinkedIn: Elizabeth McGloughlin, MBBCh

Mahnaz Hashmi, MBBCh

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

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

LinkedIn:Alaa Elnajjar, MD, Msc.

Katrina Firlik, MD

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

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

LinkedIn:Ailis Tweed-Kent, MD

Jerrica Kirkley, MD

Company: Plume
Gender-affirming hormone therapy from the phone

LinkedIn:Jerrica Kirkley, MD

Casey Means, MD

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

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

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

LinkedIn: Wendye Robbins, MD

Alexandra Haessler, MD

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

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.

LinkedIn:Stacy Lindau, MD, MAPP

Suzanne Mitchell, MD MS

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.

LinkedIn: Suzanne Mitchell, MD MSc

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!

Going global: Taking your health product to international markets

Going global: Taking your health product to international markets

US medical device and molecular diagnostics (MDx) developers are often laser-focused on establishing and growing their businesses stateside, with little to no attention paid to some important international healthcare markets. For example, the medical device market was expected to reach $150 billion in 2017 in the US alone—certainly a sizable market. However, when looking outside of the US, the global medical device market was set to reach close to $400 billion. The key to successful international growth is understanding which markets are truly accessible to you and mapping out a go-to-market strategy for each region.

Over the last 15 years, I have helped several startups expand their businesses to more than 30 markets globally. It has been a hugely rewarding (but mostly humbling!) experience. In joining the MDisrupt team, I now feel I can help so many more companies cross borders with their technology in a strategic, risk-mitigated way. I can help you ask the right questions and make the right risk calls as you contemplate international expansion.

Diversify your portfolio

Why should you consider expanding your business internationally? More than simply expanding your total addressable market, it’s a risk mitigation strategy! While most US companies consider international expansion to be fraught with risk and complexity, they fail to realize just how volatile the US market is and just how quickly their best-laid plans can fail. One swift action by the FDA or one unfavorable coverage determination by a top US payers can compromise your game plan before you’ve even gone to market. Going international with your product is like diversifying your investment portfolio: you can mitigate the risk of unexpected downturns in any one market.

As a topical example, COVID-19 has not impacted all countries uniformly. In fact, while case numbers were steadily rising across Europe and the US, my partners in Singapore were already recovering thanks to early containment measures. As a result, Singapore, Australia and some other international markets fared much better in the face of this global pandemic and were able to resume normal business activities before the close of Q2’2020. If your business model relies on revenue from US hospitals alone—hospitals now completely overrun with COVID-19  cases—the pandemic may pose an irrecoverable threat to your company.

Look for easily accessible international markets first

When should you consider doing this? The short answer is as soon as you have the opportunity to do so without compromising your product and market developments in your priority market. For startups, this is always a difficult decision due to resource constraints. For instance, Brazil is a seemingly attractive opportunity, boasting Latin America’s largest hospital market, but you should be aware of its prohibitive import tariffs and product registration requirements.  Brazil may not present a near term opportunity given that  you will have to invest substantially in product regionalization, translations of collateral, and regulatory approvals. Always invest in your priority market development first, and at the earliest opportunity, identify an international market that is relatively accessible. A good choice is one which requires little product regionalization (perhaps the dominant language is  English) and one that doesn’t pose significant regulatory or product registration hurdles. One such example in Latin America is Colombia, the region’s third-largest economy and one that has business-friendly economic policies. You may be shocked to learn that some international markets are easier to sell into than your own!

Options for international expansion

There are three general approaches to international business expansion:

  • Direct to market: As the manufacturer, you will set up a local entity and sell your product directly to clients. This means you are responsible for all client support, client contracting, local marketing and hiring locally, etc.
  • Distributors: An in-territory company is contracted to represent your company under exclusive or non-exclusive distribution terms. Most distributor agreements are time-bound and subject to sales performance targets negotiated between the parties. The distributor manages all client relationships and generally assumes responsibility for marketing and client support. In this scenario you will need to support the distributor company with training and marketing materials and generally the distributor will expect a margin of 25-35%, depending on whether the product is an instrument, a consumable, or a medical device.
  • Tech-transfer (licensing): Under a licensing agreement, you will transfer intellectual property rights to a third party to manufacture, further develop and/or sell your medical device or molecular diagnostic. These agreements contain terms related to revenue expectations and a proposed royalty structure, as well as territory and renewal terms.

The go-to-market approach that is right for your company depends very much on the following factors:

  1. The stage of your product in the technology adoption life cycle. If your technology is so innovative that you find yourself in the “early market” phase, you don’t need a distributor, you need market developers. Market developers are key opinion leaders in your field who are critical to the early adoption and validation of your product (or concept). They are highly published and influential in their respective fields. When you’re in the early market phase, there is nothing more critical than building relationships with these key opinion leaders. They will help you build evidence and credibility behind your product and will help engage the “early majority” to cross the chasm (see Fig. 1). At this stage, your biggest competitive threat is the status quo, and a typical distributor will not spend time developing your market for you when they can sell something else more easily.On the other hand, if you have a product for which there are known or established predicates in-market, then you may find yourself in the “mainstream” market. In this case, it would be perfectly appropriate to seek a local representative for your company as they can help you set competitive pricing and competitive positioning for your product. At this stage, your biggest competitive threats are the incumbents who have been in-market for some time before you and who you will have to displace. Here, distributors are a good fit because there is an established market for your product which they presumably understand and know better than you.

Fig. 1

Going global: Taking your health product to international markets 1

  1. Local supply chain practices: In some countries, like Japan, you have to sell your products through an in-country distributor. In Japan, hospitals are contracted with local distributors for all of their medical and health tech supplies. The customary “kereitsu” structure remains prominent, and you must be familiar with this structure and partner with the right distributor to access your target clients. In other countries, import permits for medical devices are only granted to local companies, so you may have to work with a local distributor in these cases. Alternatively you may opt to have a third party like EMERGO file your device registrations, and designate them as the permit holders if you don’t want to be beholden to a commercial distributor.
  2. How well you know your market and your user: many companies in the “early market” stage make assumptions about what the market needs. Are you confident you understand the market problem your product is solving and furthermore, are you confident that the market will pay your asking price to fix it? (See our blog on the 8 common mistakes healthtech companies make when building their health products) You may find it beneficial to take a direct-to-market approach initially, to allow direct communication with your user base. These types of market insights may not be relayed to you if you are working through a distributor. You could find yourself with a distributor who is under-performing and you won’t understand why.
  3. Privacy laws: a growing number of countries now restrict the export of genetic samples and of genetic data. In fact, the enactment of GDPR by the European Commission in 2018 has set in motion tighter privacy laws around the world. If you are a molecular diagnostics developer, this may cause you to have to consider either buying or partnering with a local lab to both process test samples and interpret test results. It may mean localizing your database, too. If the market opportunity isn’t sizable enough to consider setting up your own operations, then an out-licensing model may provide a viable path to market.

Date before you marry: finding the right distributor for your company

Should you determine that the distributor/channel model is the best path to market for your company, you should plan to invest some time doing your due diligence on prospective partners. Getting this step wrong can cost you greatly and can cause irreparable harm to your client relationships. Here are some things to consider:

  • Network: Inquire about current sales channels: who are the distributor’s current customers? How well does their client list overlap with your target list? How well connected are they with relevant key opinion leaders in their region? Inquire about their current product roster and sales performance to gauge their level of penetration in the market and their ability to close and manage large accounts.
  • Reputation: your product may be best-in-class and best-in-market, but if you’ve tethered yourself to a partner who has soured relationships with potential clients in the past, you are wasting your time and may not even know it. You should ask for a client reference list and ask institutional partners in that region for any feedback about the distributor.
  • Resident expertise: what skill set is needed to engage the top clients and train them on your product? Does the distributor have those resources in-house? For instance, if you are selling a pharmacogenomic test, you will want to look for distributors who have resident pharmacists or pharmacologists on staff.
  • Communication: There are a few rules of engagement when dealing with international clients and partners: Learn to pronounce their names properly and ask them for help if you’re unsure. This may sound basic, but it’s not. It’s incredibly important for showing respect, and it’s also very helpful to learn how to pronounce foreign names, because then you can track conversations more effectively. Make an effort, as they do with you. Second, if you don’t speak the local language(which is often the case), make sure that your point of contact is fully fluent in your language. Those 11 pm phone calls will be much easier.
  • Accreditations: Select a partner who will be a good steward of your company’s brand. Ask them about their company’s values and ask them what other companies they are representing. You should also ask for proof of any relevant accreditations (ISO, CLIA/CAP, NATA, as the case may be).
  • Salesmanship: ask them to pitch you your own product, slide deck and all. You want to see a) whether they have done their homework and b) how much they understand your product’s value proposition.
  • Street-price: In some countries (Hong Kong, Japan), the distributor model is layered, the result of which is an inflated street price. Make sure you agree on a street /retail price range.
  • Trial period: There is mutual benefit to both the distributor and the manufacturer to evaluate the business relationship with a short pilot or a trial period. The distributor can begin marketing your product and understanding what resources will be needed to successfully sell it. Throughout this period, you will be able to gauge the distributor’s effectiveness. In my experience, you can catch several red flags through this process!

Going global with your health tech product can be transformative for your business and can help you absorb inevitable market fluctuations. A carefully crafted strategy which considers the status of your technology’s adoption life cycle and a risk-benefit analysis of the path to market (direct, channel, or out-license) is of critical importance to the success of your international expansion.

Morgan Donaldson, MDisrupt

Morgan Donaldson, VP of Business Development, MDisrupt

Morgan Donaldson is a business development executive with more than 15 years of experience bringing genomics technologies and molecular diagnostics to global markets (EMEA, LATAM, APAC, North America). She has developed international sales channels, managed business development teams, led product developments, led contract negotiations with Fortune 500s and participated in due diligence assessments. She has led the international growth strategy for several genomics startups in the Bay Area and in Canada.

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.

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