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'Living' at the Edge of Innovation in Healthcare
Mdisrupt's CEO and founder, Ruby Gadelrab shares her thoughts on the medtech industry and discusses her formula to having a strong work/life balance.
August 2, 2022
6 Min Read
Image courtesy of MDisrupt
Mdisrupt’s 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 medtech. MD+DI continued the conversation with Gadelrab, asking her more about the industry and talking about the proper work life balance.
MD+DI: How long have you been in the medtech industry and when did you first become interested in healthcare?
Ruby: I have been in the biotech and medtech industry for more than 26 years. My parents are both doctors and watching their paths, I knew early that I didn't want to pursue a career in medicine. I completed a degree in molecular biology because I knew that genetics and the human genome would be pivotal in our understanding of human disease and also in the healthcare system. I spent the next two decades of my career commercializing genetic technologies, firstly for research and then later for clinical applications. I spent 15 years in Silicon Valley and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work for some of the greatest 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 am not sure I have the greatest work-life balance! I do have sacred hours throughout the day where I try not to book meetings: 8 to 10 am so I can get my son to school, 6 to 8 pm to have dinner with my family and I try to keep weekends mostly free for my family. Someone once told me that out of these 5 things, most people can only have 3 at any time: Work, Family, Friends, Fitness, Sleep. I find that I am always compromising on something, but work and family are the constants in my life.
MD+DI: What time do you start your day and why that time?
Ruby: My workday starts at 10 am CT. 10 am enables 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 late in the evening, so I start working again from 9pm-1am for deep work after my son goes to bed. This schedule definitely isn't for everyone, but it works for me and enables me to balance meeting time, deep work time, and family time.
MD+DI: What have you learned about medtech that you didn't know before going into the space?
Ruby: Healthtech/medtech/digital health are vastly different from consumer tech and therefore we can't apply the same principles for growth and scale. Some of the main differences are:
Healthcare is highly regulated and requires expertise to navigate. Many see regulatory as a hindrance but in healthcare regulatory can actually be used as a strategy
Healthcare has many stakeholders. In healthcare, the user, the consumer, and the payor are different stakeholders with different needs and different incentives. Medtech innovators need to know who is going to pay for their innovation and ensure that the product they build meets those requirements
You can't go fast and break things as it’s in direct conflict with healthcare’s oath of “do no harm.” At best, you can go fast responsibly.
Healthcare has to be evidence based. Building health products requires a higher bar of evidence. Every stage of development requires data generation and clinical expertise. This process cannot be rushed as the studies take time. This means that for widespread adoption, the timelines are longer than for consumer tech. The critical studies include:
Technical validation: shows that the innovation actually works
Clinical Validation: to ensure that the technology detects a disease or biomarker when it's present and doesn't detect it when it’s absent
Clinical Utility Studies: to demonstrate that the innovation is actually useful in the clinic and a clinician would modify their treatment plan based on having this information
Health Outcomes 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 help decision makers in healthcare make payment and adoption decisions
After being in the healthcare field for more than 26 years, I realized that access to experts who can help to generate data is very limited to those outside of healthcare. I founded MDisrupt to solve the problems for digital health innovators, namely:
Access to healthcare experts on demand and
Faster easier ways to do the required data generation
MD+DI: What motivates you each day, or what helps to motivate your teams daily?
Ruby: I believe that the digital health innovations of today are the healthcare products of the future. My mother passed away from liver cancer after many years of chronic disease. Many of today's digital health innovations are solving problems such as early detection, risk assessment, disease prevention, remote patient monitoring, and digital therapeutics. These innovations may have given my mother many more years if they were available to her.
I dream of a world where the most impactful health innovations are accessible to those who need them the most (not just to the 1%) and that we can all make data driven healthcare decisions. However, with more than 350,000 digital health apps on the market today, it’s very hard for consumers, patients, providers, and payers to know which products are evidence-based and show meaningful outcomes. This is why our mission at MDisrupt is to organize the world’s digital health products by performance.
MD+DI: Do you take inspiration from any source for innovation? If so, what and how does it inspire you?
Ruby: I am privileged that I get to spend every day talking to the most inspirational people in healthcare.
Firstly, my team at MDisrupt, are some of the most experienced and brilliant people from all aspects of healthcare and medtech including Walgreens, Amgen, Invitae, Himms, and GLG. This team inspires me and makes me proud every single day.
Secondly, we have built a network of healthcare experts on demand. There are more than 700 of them in our network including more than 500 clinicians. They understand healthcare and its problems from the inside and are all motivated to drive the responsible disruption of healthcare. Many of them are seeking opportunities outside of clinical practice and are keen to share their expertise with digital health companies. I have interviewed more than 100 of our experts and their stories are so inspiring. Many have become friends, advisors, and investors.
Finally, our clients. We serve digital health companies, so I speak to many innovators every single week. These are the dreamers, the builders, and future-makers. I get to hear their founder stories and ideas at the earliest stages. They paint a picture of how the world will look in the future. They show me health technologies and product ideas that I wish we all had access to right now. What can be more inspiring than glimpsing the future of healthcare from the inside and from the inventors themselves?
See below for Gadelrab's conversation on inclusion and diversity on Episode 44 of Let's Talk Medtech:
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