Fast Wave Medical's Scott Nelson reveals six women who are making a definitive impact in the medical device industry.

Scott Nelson, Co-founder and CEO

May 22, 2023

5 Min Read
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Image Credit: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

There’s certainly no shortage of inspiring stories and illuminating advice in the world of medical and health technology. I know this firsthand. After hundreds of Medsider podcast interviews, I’ve had the unique opportunity to learn from medtech’s most innovative trailblazers and entrepreneurs — including several women who are breaking the glass ceiling as they develop new paradigms for better patient care. 

These leaders are finding innovative ways to solve a range of healthcare issues: from wearable neuromodulation therapies to direct-to-consumer devices to relieve sinus and nasal inflammation.

In addition, their diverse backgrounds and perspectives are helping to ensure that advancements in medical technology benefit everyone — not just a select few.

I’ve rounded up six women leaders who are crushing it in medtech.  Keep reading to learn about how they’re advancing healthcare and the one piece of advice they have for anyone in our industry.

1. Jennifer Ernst, Tivic Health

Jennifer Ernst’s path to becoming co-founder and CEO of Tivic Health was anything but ordinary. She came to the medtech space after serving in high-profile roles at Xerox PARC and Thin Film Electronics. At Tivic Health, she’s led the development and commercialization of the company’s flagship direct-to-consumer device ClearUP, which uses gentle pulsed electron waves to relieve symptoms of sinus and nasal inflammation.

Ernst emphasizes that entrepreneurs need to design products that people want to use every day. Developing devices with consumers in mind will have a major impact on the future of over-the-counter (OTC) devices, and the medtech industry as a whole.

2. Rosina Samadani, Oculogica

Rosina Samadani is a leading voice in the medtech industry when it comes to emphasizing the importance of initial customer research and data collection. Samadani, who holds a doctorate in biomedical engineering from MIT, is the president and CEO of Oculogica, which developed EyeBOX, a diagnostic medtech device for concussions.

Samadani urges entrepreneurs in the early stages of development to refine their focus when creating prototypes: function should take precedence over form. Prototypes that are easy to use and free of glitches generate buzz and move quickly through clinical trials.

3. Holly Rockweiler, Madorra

Holly Rockweiler's career path has taken her from the labs of Boston Scientific to the forefront of medtech innovation. As the co-founder and CEO of Madorra, a revolutionary non-hormonal medical device designed to treat vaginal dryness, Rockweiler is a trailblazer on a mission to improve women's health.

Her secret to success? Before diving headfirst into solving any problem, she advises startups to take the time to truly understand the unmet needs of patients. It's this laser focus on hearing from patients directly that sets Rockweiler apart in the competitive medtech industry.

4. Heather Underwood, EvoEndo

EvoEndo CEO Heather Underwood’s uniquely interdisciplinary perspective focuses on solving difficult clinical problems through a solution-agnostic approach. EvoEndo, a physician-friendly system that allows endoscopic procedures to be performed without the need for general anesthesia or conscious sedation, uses key innovations from various fields of medicine to meet patients’ needs.

Underwood’s advice stems from her belief in innovation. Medtech entrepreneurs shouldn’t assume they need to reinvent the wheel, she says. Many of the best innovations are mashups of existing ideas.

5. Renee Ryan, Cala Health

Renee Ryan, CEO of Cala Health, is a force to be reckoned with in the bioelectronic medicine space. Her company’s wearable neuromodulation therapies deliver personalized nerve stimulation, revolutionizing the way we manage chronic conditions. Previously, Ryan led the medical technology investments for Johnson & Johnson Innovation on the West Coast and Asia Pacific for 8 years.

Ryan's "science first" approach includes allocating significant resources to comprehensive clinical studies, which incorporate real patient feedback to drive innovation forward. This commitment to data-driven testing sets Cala Health apart in the fast-paced world of wearable medical technology.

6. Laura Yecies, Bone Health Technologies

At medtech startup Bone Health Technologies, CEO Laura Yecies keeps the focus on the patient — understanding their health journey, their needs, and what they want out of a product. Yecies is a Silicon Valley veteran with 30 years of experience leading major companies, including Netscape, Yahoo, SugarSync and CheckPoint. At Bone Health Technologies, Laura is currently spearheading the development of OsteoBoost, a vibration belt intended to prevent osteoporosis.

She touts the benefits of taking products through the regulatory process, expensive and time-consuming as it may be, in order to ultimately boost patient and provider confidence in technology. Yecies applies the same rigor and diligence to vetting potential investors, noting that doing so attracts passionate backers who are in it for the long haul.

Key Lessons from Female Trailblazers

The medtech industry is constantly evolving, and the women leading the charge are a force to be reckoned with. From understanding the unmet needs of patients to pitching the right investors and identifying a higher purpose, these innovative female leaders are changing the game. Here are my key takeaways from some of the strongest female leaders in the medtech space:

  • Prioritize people: It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that there’s a human on the other side of every interaction. Forming authentic and meaningful relationships with your various partners — from investors to regulators to patients and product users — goes a long way. And remember: doing right by patients is always good business. 

  • Do the research, collect the data: Don’t skimp on the discovery stage. Spend time identifying and understanding problems before looking for solutions. Understanding your patients and the unmet needs your product will solve is essential for innovative design.

Focus on finding product-market fit. Entrepreneurs should move on to developing an actual product only after completing extensive initial customer research.

  • Pitch the right people: Find people who connect with your company’s message and mission, and are passionate about your product. The focus should be on seeking value-add investors where input is worth markedly more than the dilution suffered in any given round of funding. 

  • Identify your higher purpose: Building a medtech startup can be exceptionally challenging. Having a greater purpose behind your pursuit will motivate you when things feel especially difficult. Getting to know your patients and seeing how your device improves people’s lives can bring joy to a taxing industry.

 

Scott Nelson is the Co-founder and CEO of FastWave Medical, a medical device startup developing intravascular lithotripsy systems. He’s also the Founder of Medsider, where he interviews founders and CEOs of promising, early-stage medical device and health technology companies.

About the Author(s)

Scott Nelson

Co-founder and CEO

Scott Nelson is the co-founder and CEO of FastWave Medical, a medical device startup developing intravascular lithotripsy systems for cardiovascular disease. Additionally, he’s the founder of Medsider, where he interviews founders and CEOs of promising, early-stage medical device and health technology companies. As a medtech growth architect, he founded and scaled Joovv from $0 to over $20M in profitable revenue in less than 3 years. Prior to that, Scott held various leadership roles at fast-growing startups and multinational strategics, including Touch Surgery, Medtronic, Covidien, Boston Scientific, and C.R. Bard.

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