Badass Women

The Redox Podcast: Episode 3 – An interview with Dr. Fatima Paruk, Microsoft's Chief Medical Innovation Officer

December 9, 2019

Niko sits down with Microsoft Chief Medical Innovation Officer Dr. Fatima Paruk to discuss innovation in healthcare.

Badass Women in Health Tech: Deborah Kilpatrick, CEO of Evidation Health

September 5, 2018

Whenever Deborah Kilpatrick speaks on panels or meets with venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, people are…

Leaders of Innovation: Lesley Solomon of Dana Farber Cancer Institute

February 13, 2018

Adopting innovative technologies in healthcare is something that has the power to transform care delivery, but it's also something that requires intensive thought, analysis, and planning. But above all, innovation adoption requires leadership that deeply understands the pain points and needs of the providers and patients they serve.

Badass Women in Health Tech: Ashley Moulton Hanks, Clinical Data Manager at Verily

December 6, 2017

Ashley Moulton Hanks believes in making information sharing a key component of a patient’s clinical trial journey. As Verily’s resident Clinical Data Manager, thinking about the percent of data capture patients typically don’t share is where Ashley finds significant opportunities to paint wider pictures of the ability to detect and prevent disease. We spoke with Ashley about the road to her role at Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) and how data is deepening the patient-healthcare provider relationship. Let’s talk about your path, what your role is now, and how you found yourself at Verily. Ashley: I initially started out in neuroscience working for a neuromarketing firm where we were capturing people's brainwaves in response to advertising stimuli. What I realized from the experience of marketing products was that I was really passionate more about healthcare—which was something that I was lacking there. It sort of propelled me to look at biotech and pharma, and I took a leap of faith by taking a role at Gilead Sciences when I knew very little about the organization and, to be quite frank with you, very little about clinical data management. I laugh now looking back because it was so bold and, at the time, I probably couldn't give you a great definition of what the role was. I just knew that I loved data and that I wanted to be in the space. Within six months of me joining the company, they were acquired for $11 billion for their Hepatitis C cure. I actively participated in that journey across Gilead for many years as we brought four different cures to market. When we hit our fourth and final wave at Gilead, I realized that I wanted to move into a less-structured data space and broaden my horizons to an organization that didn't have the bureaucratic overhead and all the inherent pharma pieces. I looked for a long time and eventually found Verily, and what I found in Verily was an open-minded organizations that had—and has—a willingness to look at data in a very different way. Tell me a little bit more about how that structure works in your role and how data correlates with the disease detection work of Verily. It really ties into our mission of collecting, organizing, and activating data. Within the clinical data management group that we've formed here, we're really about harnessing and leveraging “non- traditional” data types. The second step is organization, where we ask ourselves how do make sense of all this information and organize it in a way that we can actually activate it and analyze it to produce meaningful findings. Those key principles drive our day-to-day activities and really allow us to achieve our deliverables. I think our biggest project here, one that I'm really proud of, is Project Baseline. We're working to set up a really ambitious clinical study with a four-year longitudinal study in which we deep dive into every aspect of someone’s health journey. I'm excited to get that data and use it to help improve how people are treated. Talk more about the significance of these tools in disease detection and prevention.

Badass Women in Health Tech: Ida Tin, Co-Founder and CEO of Clue

November 7, 2017

Ida Tin is the reason why 5 million women in over 190 countries are having intimate conversations about their period with their smartphone. As co-founder and CEO of Clue, a mobile app that calculates and predicts a user’s fertile window, period, and other important reproductive health data, Tin is determined to help women plan their families with accurate, predictive, and easy-to-use technology. We caught up with the femtech entrepreneur who has successfully raised $30 million in venture capital since launching her company in 2013. Check out our interview with Tin below. I read that you led motorcycle tours around the world, wrote a book about your adventures, and eventually went on to start your own tech venture. What led you down this road? Personal experience was really the reason I developed Clue. Reproductive health is an incredibly foundational and central part of our lives, but there’s a real lack of clarity for women on this generally. That starts the moment a woman has her first period and manages that part of her life and continues as she chooses if and what birth control method to use. When I was about 30, the pill wasn’t working well for me, and I realized there had been little innovation in this space for the past 50 years. Reproductive health is something that concerns both men and women. It is an instrumental part of both mine and Hans’ life, as my partner, and now the father of my children. He was, and is, as passionate about Clue as me. Therefore, it seemed natural that he would be part of this venture. What have you learned since launching your venture company? What were some of the surprises? The biggest challenge since Clue's launch directly relates to the lack of resources women have when it comes to their health, whether due to a lack of scientific research or due to societal taboos. This is still a very new space with a ton of potential because every woman in the world faces the realities that come with menstruation, fertility, and overall health. Many people don't have the tools to discuss this fundamental and important part of life. Some even considered it "niche", or avoid the subject altogether. Paving the way for femtech, an entirely new space in the tech community, and opening up the dialogue globally has been one of the biggest—and most exciting—challenges we've faced building Clue. There are a few well-known names (VC firms and tech companies) supporting Clue, how does that influence the design/data component behind the Clue platform? Our VC’s support the end goal of what Clue is trying to achieve, and whilst we take into account their thoughts and ideas around the design of Clue, we tailor the app to the needs of our users, meaning we are able to deliver the best, most personalized experience for each and every person. What are your primary objectives in helping women keep track of their menstrual cycles? When I dreamed up the idea of Clue, I felt that there had been very little innovation in family planning since the pill came out. I was wondering how it could be that we managed to walk on the moon but that most women still don't know which days they can or can’t get pregnant. I personally needed such a tool to manage that very important part of my life. I was also convinced that many other women would find an app like Clue not only very useful but also very empowering. With Clue, users can track their period, fertile window, PMS, moods, pains, symptoms, exercise, medication, birth control usage, and more in order to gain a better understanding of their own patterns and personal trends. Our algorithm predicts your cycles based on your own data, not on a set number or global averages. So Clue is accurate and becomes even more so the more you use it. I strongly believe that Clue is not only a vital educational tool, but also incredibly empowering. How are you sharing data collected from users with the greater public health community? Can you point to any examples of how others (researchers, institutions, etc.) have benefited from the data your company is providing? We currently partner with Stanford, Columbia, University of Washington, and Oxford University to help advance female health research. By partnering with these scientific institutions and researchers, we are giving them access to our global user base and allowing them to ask questions and make conclusions, which can then be tested further and used for education purposes worldwide. For instance, Clue and a researcher from the University of Oxford have launched a joint project to empower women to acquire knowledge of their own bodies. The project aims to bring anthropology to women and show that variation is “normal”— and to research how a more refined understanding of the premenstrual experience can be harnessed to improve women’s health. We have an incredibly active and vocal user community. Feedback is that people use and love Clue because of the wealth of informative, unbiased medical information available both on the app and on our blog. We listen to our users and we endeavor to answer their questions. For example, recently, a lot of users wanted to know whether menstrual cycles really do sync. Taking this on board, we conducted a scientific study into cycle syncing, so as to be able to answer this question. (They don’t sync). Lastly, what is the next evolution of Clue? Where would you like to see its influence years from now?

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Badass Women in Health Tech: Dr. Jin Lee, CEO of BabyNoggin

October 25, 2017

  It was when Oxford-trained child psychologist Dr. Jin Lee and her husband were expecting their first child…

Badass Women in Health Tech: Heather Bowerman

October 10, 2017

  Heather Bowerman is on the brink of launching the first saliva test for…

Badass Women in Health Tech: Michelle Longmire, CEO of Medable

September 19, 2017

  Michelle Longmire was raised by a family of scientists, so when she went on to become…

Badass Women in Health Tech: Chrissa McFarlane, CEO of Patientory

August 30, 2017

  Earlier this year, Chrissa McFarlane made headlines for raising $7.2 million in three days via online blockchain token sales of her company Patientory. Just under 2,000 investors placed their bets on the blockchain-based distributed EMR storage computing platform. McFarlane has been making a name for herself in the health tech space as a young female founder working to eliminate siloed, centralized EMR systems through her technology. We caught up with her for an inside look at her journey thus far. You’ve had a pretty extensive background in the healthcare space. What initially drew your interest? I’ve been working in healthcare for 10 years. I started in high school doing research at the Albert Einstein and went on to Cornell [University] where I got a chance to do research at the USDA. Initially, I was pre-med; however, I wanted to build a business acumen and didn’t want to spend my life in a lab. So I went on to attend Wake Forest, earned a graduate business degree, and consulted for CEOs of healthcare companies in North Carolina in electronic medical record implementation. At the time, the government was funding the adoption of electronic healthcare systems. My last position was leading a team for a digital health tech company based in New York. In that role, I served over 3,000 employees in the tri-state area with navigating their health insurance and providing them clinical resources. I was there for a year before transitioning to start Patientory because I saw a need for patient-centric, holistic mechanisms for the health industry to share and access information easily. What was your entrepreneurial experience before launching Patientory? My entrepreneurial experience spans back from when I was a teenager and helped build my family's restaurant in New York City. My family are immigrants from the Caribbean. Being in a household where I saw them start businesses, entrepreneurship was part of my background. Can you talk about how Patientory helps clinicians manage information and data from other healthcare organizations and why this is significant? Patientory helps clinicians and healthcare organizations by giving them access to a patient's complete and up-to-date medical history. Up until now, they've been reliant on a patchwork of incomplete or incompatible record systems. Patientory takes a "bridge" approach and plugs into all of the largest EMR's in use today (e.g. Cerner, Allscripts, and others). It’s been almost two years since you launched and you’ve funded your company quite unconventionally. What other methods have you used to build Patientory? Initial funding came from family and personal savings early on. We participated in a couple of accelerators, including one in Colorado that lasted 12 weeks and included mentorship from physicians, a demo day, pitch event, and seed capital. We also participated in a women’s startup lab in San Francisco, built relationships, and won startup battles. At the time, it was tough, because we were trying to convince investors why they should take a risk with us when we had minimal product to show. Eventually, we came back to Atlanta, worked on building the team, and worked on the business. Getting funding for emerging technology was super hard and we needed to support development and significant capital to execute. That’s when we turned to token sales. They’re the way 90 percent of blockchain companies fund their companies and offer the best way to get maximum interest in your project from a community. You’re based in Atlanta—a high-growth technology community. Can you talk about how the growing tech environment in the city has played a role in the development of your business from a talent and perspective? Atlanta is a fantastic environment to start and grow a company. Whether it's making introductions, or serving as a mentor, there is a refreshing attitude of "how can I help?". There’s also a strong diversity initiative that doesn't seem to exist in quite the same way in other cities. What have been some of your most pressing roadblocks and how are you thinking through solutions to overcome them? The biggest roadblock has been an issue of education. How do you explain blockchain to a non-technical audience? This has been a fun challenge to have, and we've met it full-on by answering people's questions, hosting webinars, uploading blog posts, and more.                                                             --- Health tech is a rapidly growing field, and we're passionate about featuring the female perspective in this industry. If you'd like to read about more bad ass women in health tech, be sure to check out a few past installments of this series by clicking here, here, and here.

Badass Women in Health Tech: Elaine Warren, Founder of SurvivorPlan

August 16, 2017

    Elaine Warren is a decorated technologist with a resume that includes leadership roles at Accenture, the Veterans Health Administration, and Emory University. Having spent the last two decades managing and building technology for the healthcare environment, Elaine now leads the charge as president of SurvivorPlan—a company she launched three years ago to provide personalized solutions for cancer survivors, their clinicians, and their loved ones.   Read our interview with Elaine on why this technology matters and how interoperability is helping survivors get the custom care they need.     Let’s talk about your computer science and engineering background and how you got into the healthcare tech space. My first programming class was in high school and I remember thinking how cool it was that I could create things using programming language. I loved the creativity along with the structure, and I realized that software development was both a science and an art form. I went on to study computer science in college and was hooked. I love developing solutions, creating applications that help people do their jobs more efficiently, and solving complex problems. When I was in my 30s, I went on to study software engineering as a discipline and eventually earned my Masters of Computer Science degree from the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana College of Engineering. I knew from that point on that I was going to use technology, and specifically, software, to make a difference in healthcare. Solving problems in healthcare and building solutions that help patients and benefit clinicians is my passion, and I hope to be doing this for the rest of my life. You built your startup while working full time. When did you decide to make the leap into full-time entrepreneurship? How were you able to juggle two separate lives? I was working full-time as an independent consultant when I decided to take the leap into full-time entrepreneurship and go all-in with the SurvivorPlan solution. I have a dear friend who is a two-time cancer survivor herself and is now a pediatric nurse at a local survivorship clinic here in Chicago. She told me about the complex care needs of her patients and how difficult it was to continuously track and manage the needs of each patient without having a software solution to support the process. I brainstormed a bit with her about the problem and in short order, I sketched out a solution on paper. Soon we had a working prototype and I was able to show it to other clinicians working with the adult cancer patient population. Soon, we realized that this was a growing need and an emerging area of focus in cancer care delivery.   Now, three years in, we're up and running and supporting multiple live health system customers who are using the software every day in the clinic with patients. We've gotten amazing feedback on the positive impact this has made on patient care and clinical operations.   Who is the SurvivorPlan for? What type of clients do you serve and has this changed over time with the growth of your company? SurvivorPlan is a solution that empowers clinicians to address the comprehensive needs of cancer patients from the time of diagnosis, through treatment, and into the survivorship period. Using SurvivorPlan, providers can easily address the physical, practical, emotional, and preventive care needs of each patient. Our software uses each patient’s individual diagnosis along with electronic patient reported outcomes to give personalized recommendations for care, based on evidence-based guidelines. We serve health system cancer programs and independent cancer clinics by providing them the tools they need to evaluate each patient’s needs, easily provide personalized, evidence-based care plans, and then track and manage each patient’s outcomes over time. SurvivorPlan supports each of our health system customers in implementing their standard treatment protocols and continuously caring for the needs of their patients across the continuum of care. SurvivorPlan helps cancer programs improve quality, meet accreditation requirements, track and improve patient outcomes, increase patient engagement and satisfaction, and drive utilization of in-system services for all ongoing care. Why a focus on cancer care and survivor planning? Why is this space significant? This space is very significant because of the growing body of research and evidence that supports the need in our health care system to provide whole-person care for cancer patients. In the past, patients were not given all the information they needed to make treatment decisions—there was no shared decision making, no documented plan of care, and very little information given about long-term effects of various cancer treatments. In addition, once treatment was complete, patients were feeling lost, with no information or guidance on what to do going forward.  If information was given, it was canned and generic, with a one-size-fits-all approach. We're here to change all that—we're working with cancer programs that want to provide whole-person care, and are passionate about shared decision making, care coordination, improved quality of care across the care continuum. We're helping providers give each patient the guidance and personalized recommendations he/she needs to manage their diagnosis and treatment for not only the cancer itself, but for all the downstream effects that will be a part of life going forward. What were the earlier barriers for SurvivorPlan and how did you overcome them? [When we first began three years ago] I knew that integrating into electronic medical records (EMRs) in particular was going to be very critical to the success of our software. We were going to need to answer really hard questions about whether we could integrate with a hospital’s existing system. There were a lot of entrepreneurs in the space who told me we’d never be successful in integrating with EMRs and we wouldn’t get anywhere. But I knew, based on my past research on interoperability as part of my master’s thesis in graduate school, we could definitely do this. When I found Redox, they helped us get our first client and helped do it with health care systems around the country and helped us do ours. I think there has been a mindset shift where once [integration] was really hard and expensive to now more people are getting it that integration doesn’t have to be the kiss of death for a startup. That’s one thing that has really changed the most in the hearts and minds of people that we’re talking to and that we’re selling to. For example, at every single conference I’ve been to, your average clinician only knows what they’ve heard. They’ll say that you’ll never be able to integrate with their EMR and so they’re skeptical that this is something we can do. How does improved personalization through technology affect the experience and outcomes for patients? As I mentioned before, most plans provided a one-size-fits-all information. Or, patient-specific information was done manually in a Word document. Nurses, like my friend managing a whole patient population, used a series of spreadsheets taking her anywhere from an hour and a half worth of time. We’ve taken that down to 20-30 minutes of time by using the data that is already there, and then using clinical support through our engine to guide personalized recommendations. There are two aspects of monitoring compliance among patients: The first is adherence to the personalized recommendations so that they’re more likely to do things like taking their meds. The second part is looking at outcomes. So as we see that we increase adherence then we can actually measure outcomes and see how we improved outcomes with patients who experience problems with pain, fertility, incontinence, and quality of life are things that affect cancer patients for the rest of their lives that no one really wants to talk about. Do you have anything else to add about how these technologies for patients might evolve in the future? We’ll soon be able to garner more feedback on how patients respond to recommendations and referrals for treatments specifically related to side effects like fertility, pain, lymphedema, sexual dysfunction, or cognitive issues. When patients discuss these issues with their healthcare provider, that information will be sent back into the patient's chart discreetly and tied to a service code. Then we’ll be able to track when patients schedule consults as a result of those recommendations which will help us better track adherence and eventual outcomes.                                                           * * *