Michelle Longmire was raised by a family of scientists, so when she went on to become a lead researcher at Stanford and eventually launched her own health tech company, the career path was more than fitting.
Today, Longmire is CEO of Medable, leading the charge to enable a band of solutions in medical data and integration for more seamless and efficient personalized health care delivery and clinical research management.
Learn more about Michelle’s journey in our interview with the rising Silicon Valley CEO below.
Interviewer: You have an interesting career backstory, going from physician science and research to leading a multi-million dollar health tech company. Talk about your journey.
Longmire: I grew up in New Mexico and have always been a long-time lover of science. Both of my parents are scientists. [After med school] I worked at Stanford as a resident in dermatology and got a chance to train and work with a team of leaders in genetics and epigenetics. In that lab, I was combining the knowledge of dermatology with the understanding of how our genome is expressed in dermatological diseases. Through that work, I began to understand the shortcomings of clinical research and how the data we capture from patients isn’t robust enough to tell us the whole story of a patient’s health.
Simultaneously, I had been working on [my company] Medable, with the aim of wanting to leverage mobile in healthcare. I saw a huge need in clinical research to leverage what we call “direct-to-patient connectivity” to get a 360, digital view of someone’s life, which was much more than what we were capturing in standard paper-based clinical research.
I loved my research at Stanford and had a unique opportunity to be a leader in that world. But then I started to understand that what we discover in research is part of a process that is later refuted, and down the road, can be debunked from our initial thoughts.
In Silicon Valley, you start to see people pursue entrepreneurship and having a big
impact in a global sense. I thought that it was more my style—a far-less structured world of problem-solving where you’re not only solving a healthcare problem, you’re solving also how to grow a company from what was once just five people to now 25 and beyond.
You’re understanding how to hire, how to get funding. I learned that I like having multidimensional challenges that I’m solving from the ground up.
The technology integration into standard clinical trials is interesting territory. In
what distinctive ways are platforms like Medable evolving this component of the healthcare industry?
Medable plays a role in some of the biggest hospital systems and biggest biotech
companies serving patients and clinical trials reaching over 15 million patients.
The standard method for clinical research is that a patient will come in and fill out a
diary of their activity, and all data is captured when they are in the clinical setting—everything from vitals to a six-minute walk test, which is literally having a patient in a hall and ensuring that he or she can walk for six minutes.
Now, in a world where technology connects researchers directly to patients, you can
actually enable people to participate in clinical trials from their own home and develop digital surrogacies for traditional clinical tests. So instead of the six minute walk test, which literally costs thousands of dollars and is the standard measure for physical activity for cross clinical trials, you use activity data from a phone. This leads to more efficient and more cost-effective data capture and enables researchers to do it on a more routine basis.
We really push for passive fencing being a method for understanding health, in
combination with active fencing—tasks that patients do on their own. This is a win-win, because they’re self-reporting and capturing data simultaneously.
Discuss the “last mile problem” in healthcare addressing the disconnect between patients and providers, particularly in compliance and accountability. How does Medable attempt to tackle this issue?
We initially focused on providing a cloud platform that any company can use, but then quickly realized we wanted researchers to be able to use mobile—not just developers.
And then we evolved to doctors. The [platforms] are all part of the same technology
stack but with that last mile, it’s very similar to clinical trials where we’re enabling
researchers to connect directly with patients, we’re also connecting doctors with
patients. And when you look at the utilization of mobile, it’s quite underutilized in
transitions of care.
There are $15 billion dollars lost annually on transitions of care. This is where patients discharge from the hospital and enter a home or a long-term care facilities. Non-compliance to treatment is largely attributed to poor instructions (patients lacking guidance), not knowing who is accountable in that setting, and patients essentially having a complication that’s identified too late.
Our system represents “the last mile”, enabling the doctor to create a care plan based on an individual patients need. These instructions can be deployed on a patient’s phone that enables that physician group to receive information on the patient’s health in real time and make adjustments to that patient’s care based on how they’re doing out in the real world. We’re seeing a lot of interest in this technology in the pre and post-op and in oncology.
While mobile technology provides a pathway for patients to have greater control and access to their own healthcare, there’s still a real concern around personal safety and security for the individual consumer. How does security play a role in Medable’s products for patients and healthcare systems?
We’re the most secure platform in healthcare with the only globally-compliant HIPAA and European-compliant cloud solution software. I think Medable is unique because we are neither exclusively a technology company nor are we exclusively a healthcare company—our products leverage technology but deliver healthcare.
What that means is that if I’m working as a physician and a patient walks through my door and we’ve never met, they don’t immediately feel comfortable sharing private information. I can provide them healthcare and arrive at a decision based on my understanding.
The security piece is not a technicality; we see it as how you capture the essence of
healthcare and in the ability for a patient to feel secure and disclose something that is essential. Our philosophy on security is enabling people to have the same confidence in our system that they would have a face-to-face encounter with a physician.
You played a role in co-founding the Community Vision Project back in 2008 to
provide vision care to patients in underserved communities throughout New
Mexico. How does your earlier work with underserved populations carry through in the work you’re doing today?
Having spent my medical training in New Mexico, I was really inspired to understand how we can use technology to serve underserved populations. That program is actually still running.
At Medable, we see that there are clinical research areas that tend to be orphaned.
From helping people with vision to mental illness to autoimmune disease, I think what I love the most about our company is that we’re a tool for people out there really helping other people.
Whether it is helping to advance the understanding of disease through research or
delivering patient care, Medable seeks to help the experts do what they do better.
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.