Living on the edge of healthcare innovation

Mdisrupt CEO and Founder Ruby Gadelrab was recently featured on episode 44 of Let’s Talk Medtech. Gadelrab spoke about the digital health space as well as inclusion and diversity in medical technology. MD+DI continued the conversation with Gadelrab, asking her more about the industry and talking about the right work-life balance.

MD+DI: How long have you been working in the medtech industry and when did you first become interested in healthcare?

Ruby: I’ve been in the biotech and medtech industry for more than 26 years. Both my parents are doctors and as they watched their paths, I knew early on that I didn’t want to pursue a medical career. I got a degree in Molecular Biology because I knew that genetics and the human genome would be central to our understanding of human disease and also to the healthcare system. I spent the next two decades of my career commercializing genetic engineering technologies, first for research and later for clinical applications. I spent 15 years in Silicon Valley and was fortunate to have the opportunity to work for some of the largest genetics companies, including serving on the executive team at 23andMe. I would argue that the early genetics companies are V1.0 or the OGs of digital health.

MD+DI: How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Ruby: I’m not sure I have the best work-life balance! I have sacred hours throughout the day where I try not to book meetings: 8am to 10am so I can take my son to school, 6pm to 8pm to have dinner with my family and I try to keep most of the weekends free for my family . Someone once told me that most people can only have 3 of these 5 things at a time: work, family, friends, fitness, sleep. I find I’m always compromising, but work and family are constants in my life.

MD+DI: What time do you start your day and why at this time?

Ruby: My work day starts at 10am CT. 10am allows me to make sure my young son Lucas gets to school and is the right balance between east coast and west coast time zones. I have learned over time that my most productive hours are in the late evening, so I start again from 9pm to 1am for intensive work after my son has gone to bed. This schedule is definitely not for everyone, but it works for me and allows me to balance meeting time, intense work hours, and family time.

MD+DI: What did you learn about medical technology that you didn’t know before going into space?

Ruby: Healthtech/medtech/digital health is very different from consumer tech and so we can’t apply the same principles for growth and scaling. Some of the main differences are:

  • Healthcare is heavily regulated and requires expertise to navigate. Many see regulation as a barrier, but in healthcare, regulation can actually be used as a strategy
  • Healthcare has many stakeholders. In healthcare, the user, the consumer, and the payer are different stakeholders with different needs and different incentives. Medtech innovators need to know who will pay for their innovation and make sure the product they make meets those needs
  • You can’t go fast and break things as it is in direct conflict with the health service’s oath of “doing no harm”. At best, you can drive responsibly fast.
  • Health care must be evidence-based. The construction of health products requires a higher burden of proof. Each phase of development requires data generation and clinical expertise. This process cannot be rushed as studying takes time. This means that the deadlines for widespread adoption are longer than for consumer technology. Critical studies include:
    • Technical Validation: shows that the innovation actually works
    • Clinical Validation: to ensure the technology detects a disease or biomarker when it is present and does not detect it when it is absent
    • Clinical benefit studies: to show that the innovation is actually useful in the clinic and a clinician would change their treatment plan based on this information
    • Health Outcome Data: to measure the impact of the innovation on a patient’s health status
    • Health Economic Studies: to measure the cost and value of the outcomes of the intervention. These are used to assist healthcare decision makers with payment and adoption decisions

Having worked in healthcare for more than 26 years, I realized that access to experts who can help generate data is very limited to people outside of healthcare. I founded MDisrupt to solve the problems faced by digital health innovators, namely:

  • Access to health experts on call and
  • Faster and easier ways to do the data generation you need

MD+DI: What motivates you every day or what helps to motivate your teams every day?

Ruby: I believe that today’s digital health innovations are the health products of the future. My mother died of liver cancer after many years of chronic illness. Many of today’s digital health innovations solve problems such as early detection, risk assessment, disease prevention, remote patient monitoring and digital therapies. These innovations might have given my mother many years to come if they had been available to her.

I dream of a world where the most impactful health innovations are accessible to those who need them most (not just the 1%) and where we can all make data-driven health decisions. However, with more than 350,000 digital health apps on the market today, it is very difficult for consumers, patients, providers and payers to know which products are evidence-based and show meaningful results. That’s why our mission at MDisrupt is to organize the world’s digital health products by performance.

MD+DI: Are you inspired by any source of innovation? If so, what and how does it inspire you?

Ruby: I feel privileged to be able to speak to the most inspiring people in healthcare every day.

First, at MDisrupt, my team is made up of some of the most experienced and brilliant people from all areas of healthcare and medical technology, including Walgreens, Amgen, Invitae, Himms, and GLG. This team inspires me and makes me proud every day.

Second, we have established a network of healthcare professionals when needed. There are more than 700 of them in our network, including more than 500 clinicians. They understand healthcare and its issues from within and are all motivated to drive responsible healthcare disruption. Many of them are looking for opportunities outside of clinical practice and are eager to share their expertise with digital health companies. I’ve interviewed over 100 of our experts and their stories are so inspiring. Many have become friends, advisors and investors.

Finally our customers. We serve digital health companies, so I speak to a lot of innovators every week. These are the dreamers, the builders and future makers. I get to hear their founding stories and ideas in the earliest stages. They paint a picture of what the world will look like in the future. They show me health technologies and product ideas that I wish we all had access to now. What can be more inspirational than taking a look at the future of healthcare from within and from the inventors themselves?

Below is Gadelrab’s conversation on Inclusion and Diversity on Episode 44 of Let’s Talk Medtech:

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