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37 minutes | Feb 22, 2021
Tech Tonics: Griffin Weber – Bringing Clinical Sense & Sensibility to Healthcare Data
Inspired by health technology from the age of five, Griffin Weber has pursued this passion both doggedly and joyfully. Now an associate professor of medicine and bioinformaticist at Harvard, Griffin spends his days doing what he loves, leveraging technology to pragmatically improve the health and the care of patients. Griffin grew up in Virginia, the son of a mathematics professor and a professional artist. While his parents had left NYC, they retained their affection for the city, which they expressed through life-size renderings that seem lifted from subway stations – see here. While many – perhaps most – of our guests describe a career of wandering and exploration, Griffin seems to have had a clear sense of what he wanted to do from the time he was five years old when first inspired by the intersection of human health and cutting-edge technology. He was profoundly interested in understanding “how things worked,” and was especially captivated by the Jarvik-7, the first artificial heart implanted in a patient in December 1982. In college at Harvard, Griffin pursued bioengineering, but over time found himself ever more intrigued by the power of computers and how they might solve the needs of hospitals. He soon wound up engaged in a series of software projects for hospitals, discovered that he really enjoyed this work, and decided that it was to be the focus of his career. Griffin continued his training at Harvard Medical School in the Health Science and Technology (HST) program and sought to pursue a joint MD/PhD with the PhD in computer science. Initially this confused the administration, who viewed this as a strange combination. But in the end, they promised to support Griffin if he was accepted to the computer science PhD program – which, of course, he was. It sounds like this worked out pretty well – Griffin was pursuing the joint degree and found his way to a staggering number of high-profile early digital projects which included everything from the management of patient-related information for hospitals to digitizing medical school course information for his colleagues. As he neared the end of medical school, wondering what he might do next, he received an offer he couldn’t refuse. If he was willing to forgo additional medical training (such as an internship, residency, etc.), he was told, he could instead go directly to a faculty position at Harvard Medical School, set up a research lab, and also serve as CTO for the medical school. He said yes. Quickly, Griffin became immersed in a range of interesting projects and collaborations with a particular focus on the challenges associated with extracting useful information from the electronic health record (EHR). Griffin emphasizes that the EHR is fundamentally a record of physicians and other providers interacting with a patient – rather than a comprehensive record of the patients themselves. This can lead, he says, to “weird biases and misunderstandings” – especially when EHR data is analyzed without the relevant contextual understanding of the practice of medicine, including potentially idiosyncrasies associated with the specific care environment. Griffin has also found a way to cultivate his artistic side through his work, in his data visualizations. For example, this paper, describing the “Triangle of Biomedicine” presents a graphical depiction of how innovations in basic science translate over time to impact clinical medicine, and this paper, offering the “Tapestry of Big Biomedical Data,” a now-famous illustration showing the relationship between different sources of information about a patient’s health. Notably, Griffin’s interest in data visualization places him in distinguished company – including Florence Nightingale, as David recently discussed in his latest Wall Street Journal book review for Tim Harford’s The Data Detective. We are inspired by all Griffin has done and continues to do at the frontier of technology and health, and we welcome him to Tech Tonics! This episode of Tech Tonics is sponsored by Manatt Health. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper. Show Notes: David has written about the challenge of extracting EHR data HERE and HERE.
37 minutes | Feb 8, 2021
Matt Wilsey, Leading with Grace
Matt Wilsey grew up wanting to serve. He spent his early career in government working for both blue and red administrations, but was eventually lured back to where he grew up–Silicon Valley—to join the tech scene, and helped start and lead several successful tech companies, including Zazzle and CardSpring (sold to Twitter). Along the way Matt did a stint in the New York financial scene, working for leadership at KKR. He considered a return to government, but real life, in the form of a child born with a rare disease, intervened. Today, Matt Wilsey is CEO of Grace Science, a company that has a laser-like focus on curing a genetic disorder known as NGLY1 Deficiency, which affects about 75 people worldwide – it’s a pretty specific job which arose out a pretty specific experience – the desire to cure his own child, Grace. Despite no training in science or biology and no experience in the pharma world, Matt is driving his company to help all people with NGLY1 find hope for a cure and find each other. He is hell-bent on helping Grace back to health, on helping others fight this insidious disease, and to contribute to the general advancement of biotech discovery for common diseases along the way. Matt has teamed up with patients, their families, a global array of academic researchers and even a Nobel laureate to achieve his goal; together they see light at the end of the tunnel. Matt expects clinical trials of the drug they have collectively developed to begin within two years and to make a difference not just for future children with this disease, but also his own. We are so thrilled to have Matt on Tech Tonics today! We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper.
38 minutes | Jan 25, 2021
Tech Tonics: Amy Emerson and Her Psychedelic Mission
Amy Emerson, CEO of MAPS Public Benefit Corp. (MAPS), grew up in Kodiak, Alaska and fell in love with both animals and science as a child. Later in life, when considering veterinary school, she realized that she loved biology but hated math – she would rather live in the wilderness on a lake and look upon science as a form of art. Amy’s path led her to a microbiology lab for fish and game, then to bench science at a biotech company where she learned, as she says it, pre-clinical research is “an exercise in proving yourself wrong.” She ultimately switched to the clinical side of biotech research and spent years developing drugs the old fashioned way. For instance, she played a key role in the development of numerous vaccines during a long stint at Chiron starting in its early years. A chance moment at Burning Man led Amy down a different drug development path. Through a circuitous series of events, she met Rick Doblin, who was doing foundational clinical research into the use of MDMA (aka Ecstasy) for clinical applications. Rick went on to become founder of MAPS, a company intent on bringing the first FDA approved MDMA product to those who suffer from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions. Upon hearing Rick speak, Amy felt “a moment of clarity and purpose.” She made a cold call to Rick, volunteering to help with his clinical and regulatory efforts. Today she is CEO of the company. We spoke to Amy about her career, but also the burgeoning field of psychedelic drugs for mental health treatment and the issues around legality, stigma and potential convergence with traditional pharma. We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with its parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper.
34 minutes | Jan 11, 2021
Tech Tonics: Stacy Feld – Innovating Where the Consumer Meets Life Sciences
Stacy Feld had settled into a satisfying career in biotech business development when she accidentally found her way into a meeting with Genentech’s CEO and a tiny startup company called 23andMe. The moment sparked a sudden realization that the best life science innovation would be focused around the consumer and a career finding ways to make that prediction real. Raised on a New Hampshire ranch in a town of 1000 where her parents owned the local video store, Stacy’s original career plan was “to get out of New Hampshire.” After attending college at Penn, Stacy was pointed towards law school, she attended Vanderbilt to study criminal justice, potentially the legacy of the robbery that sent her parents to New Hampshire from New York in the first place. After a fortuitously-timed internship opportunity at Wilson Sonsini, a leading Silicon Valley firm during the go go days of the 1990’s tech boom, Stacy became a full time lawyer advising startups that included tech and biotech companies, many of which are now household names. Biotech, in particular, intrigued her, as she was drawn to the way partnerships created value and found herself attracted more to biotech patent licensing than general software licensing. Stacy eventually left the law firm and went to a startup – a gene expression company in Madison, WI called 3rd Wave Technology, that was ultimately sold to Hologic. Afterwards she joined Genentech and led business development around small immunology and autoimmune biomarker companies with a focus on filling the Genentech pipeline. Stacy’s Genentech role led her to a fateful breakfast with Linda Avey (co-founder of 23andMe) and subsequently the meeting that drew her attention to consumer-driven healthcare. It was a pivotal moment that ultimately led her to Physic Ventures, which had consumer products company Unilever as a major backer, and a career refocused on the consumer as healthcare purchaser. Stacy ultimately joined Johnson & Johnson to lead consumer-focused investing and she now leads J&J Innovation activities in the Western US, Australia and New Zealand. Her passion for supporting the small entrepreneur continues to reflect her own 8-year experience running a catering company off the side of her desk while at Genentech, a conduit for her passion for cooking. We are delighted to welcome Stacy to today’s show! We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper.
36 minutes | Dec 21, 2020
Takeda’s Ariel Dowling: An Engineer With A Passion For Digital Health
A Jersey girl drawn first captivated by engineering while in college at Dartmouth, Ariel Dowling went on to pursue her PhD at Stanford, exploring the use of wearables to anticipate and prevent knee injuries. After several experiences at tech-focused startups, Ariel has more recently found a home — and a calling — as a digital health leader in biopharma. Ariel grew up in Baskin Ridge, NJ (exit 36 off 78). A good student and a talented lacrosse player, Ariel was recruited by, and strongly drawn to Dartmouth. Once there, she found she loved the community, and especially appreciated their approach to engineering, which she describes as project-based and team oriented; the program was focused, as she explains, on cultivating engineering managers rather than individual contributors. After completing Dartmouth in four years with two degrees – a bachelors and a masters — she headed off to a PhD in mechanical engineering at Stanford. While the Stanford class was relatively large, she found camaraderie from a group of women engineers who supported and inspired each other. An avid ultimate frisbee player, Ariel noticed that women seemed to suffer more (non-contact) knee injuries in this sport than men. This ultimately led to her PhD thesis, involving the application of early wearables to injury prevention. After graduation, Ariel and her husband spent several years in Israel, where she completed a post-doc in robotics. Upon returning to the United States, Ariel’s first job was at a DARPA-funded startup in Boston, which quickly proved to be a decision she regretted. She soon found another job at a fall detection company, and then was poached by an early digital health company, MC-10. This startup stood out to Ariel because it was her first experience at a “really hard-core, VC-backed, growth-focused” company; she took naturally to this environment. Ultimately, Ariel decided to move on, taking a role in digital health at a biotech company—Cambridge (MA)-based Biogen. She found she enjoyed the challenge, and in short order became (and remains) a much-sought-out thought leader on the digital health speaking circuit. Importantly, Ariel says it was her “keep saying yes” attitude that helped create many of these opportunities. More recently, Ariel joined Takeda Pharma, also in Cambridge, MA, where she’s a digital strategy leader at the company’s Data Science Institute. With her combination of vision, expertise, passion, and optimism, Ariel offers an inspiring portrait of the future of digital and data in pharma. We are delighted to welcome her today’s show! We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper.
35 minutes | Dec 7, 2020
Tech Tonics: Paul Bleicher – Physician, Scientist, Entrepreneur, Innovator
A self-described “nerdy” kid from a working class family in a bedroom community of “The City,” on the South Shore of Long Island, Paul Bleicher trained as a physician-scientist, and was heading towards a career in academic medicine when he boldly decided to pivot to industry, where he’s enjoyed a remarkable and storied career in a range of large and small organizations, often very different, but sharing a focus on collecting and using data. Like David Kessler, Harvey Milk and Stan Lee, our guest, Paul Bleicher grew up in the Five Towns on Long Island, depicted – he points out — in the movie GoodFellas, Thomas Pynchon’s novel, V, and the TV show, Entourage. Paul describes himself as a “late 60’s amalgamation of mathlete and hippie-wannabee with high school-educated parents,” and says he was inspired at a young age by books like Arrowsmith and Microbe Hunters to become a physician-scientist. Paul studied biology at RPI, attended a transformative summer program in cell physiology at Wood’s Hole, and ultimately was accepted into the MD/PhD program at the University of Rochester, where he pursued his PhD in immunology, and on the medical side, learned about George Engel’s biopsychosocial model of illness, emphasizing the importance of social and environmental factors as well as genetic and biological. In Boston, at Harvard Medical School, Paul continued his training via a residency in internal medicine then specializing in dermatology, and pursued a post-doc in molecular immunology. This research resulted in a number of high-profile publications, and a plum job as a physician-scientist at MGH. After a few years on the HMS faculty, Paul took his career in a bold new direction. Inspired in part by his scientist-wife, who had joined one of the earliest immunology-focused biotech startups in Boston, Paul was motivated to pursue his interest in translation in the private sector, and gained valuable experience first at an early CRO, and then at an early-stage biotech. He then founded an innovative pharma IT company called Phase Forward, and began a thirteen year journey with the company, which was ultimately acquired by Oracle. Paul then joined an early stage innovative health data company, Humedica, which was acquired by Optum, part of the UnitedHealth Group (as David discussed here) in 2013. Paul stayed on at Optum for six years, serving for most of that time as the founding CEO of the analytics and innovation collaborative OptumLabs, until spring 2020. Paul attributes his success to his “hands on” approach, able to understand both the overarching aims and the underlying details. He is an inventor on six issued patents on health and pharma IT inventions, and initiated a numbers of major projects in area like deep learning, network analysis, machine learning, etc., typically contributing his own R code. An éminence grise at the intersection of pharma and data, Paul advises numerous companies and investors and serves on a number of boards. We are delighted to welcome him to our show today!
36 minutes | Nov 23, 2020
Tech Tonics: Dr. Sally Shaywitz: Advancing Science, Driving Policy, Overcoming Dyslexia
Dr. Sally Shaywitz – Yes, she is David’s mom – has brought an entrepreneur’s mindset to her life’s work in dyslexia, recognizing the condition as a prevalent and underappreciated need, then working tirelessly to advance the science and enact the policy required to fully unlock the potential within so many brilliant individuals. Sally has helped a huge array of individuals access what she has famously termed their “sea of strengths”. The daughter of two immigrants who had escaped Eastern Europe at the turn of the century and arrived in America in search of a better life, Sally was born and grew up up in the Bronx, New York. The family wasn’t well-off: her father was a dressmaker, her mom, a homemaker. Yet she describes her childhood, with her parents and older sister, Irene, as “overflowing with love.” Sally attended college at the City College of New York (CCNY), and after initially contemplating a career in law, found herself drawn to medicine, and was accepted early into the medical school of her choice, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Tragically, the same year, Sally’s mom was afflicted with endometrial cancer, and despite what initially seemed like an encouraging prognosis, she grew progressively ill and ultimately passed away, a particularly devastating experience given the family’s especially close emotional bonds. While entering medical school with a heavy heart, Sally soon found she resonated with what she describes as the humanity and warmth of medicine; she was especially drawn to pediatrics, pursuing it herself and marrying a pediatrician, Bennett Shaywitz, she met the summer after her first year of medical school. While Sally was one of only four women in a class of 100, she generally found the men to be far friendlier; similarly, during her pediatrics training. When she wanted to organize her schedule so she could take time off to be with her first child, it was her female colleagues, she said, who resisted and rejected the idea. After completing her training in pediatrics and a fellowship in developmental pediatrics, Sally and her family – now with three children – moved to Dayton, OH, where her husband had been assigned by the Air Force to run a research center during the Vietnam War. Sally decided she wanted to focus on her children, and put her career on hold. She loved the experience, and wrote about it for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, focusing on the contrast between, as she describes it, what “enlightened women” were taught about motherhood and how, in her experience, it was so much more instinctive, positive and fulfilling. The family subsequently relocated to suburban Connecticut after Bennett accepted a position at Yale Medical School. Sally says she initially planned to be a stay-at-home mom, but found the available social environment intellectually deadening. She began to see patients out of her home – an experience she wrote up for Ms. Magazine – and was soon recruited by Yale to care for the learning disorder patients that apparently no one else was interested in seeing. The field was viewed at the time as a bit of a backwater (the starting point of so many entrepreneurial journeys!), but Sally found she really enjoyed taking care of patients with dyslexia, and was determined to drive their care forward. This mission would come to define Sally’s career (and soon, Bennett’s as well, as they began to work as a team), starting with a transformative longitudinal study (now in its 37th year, and counting!) that evolved into an extensive clinical research program. Their research revealed that dyslexia was surprisingly common – affecting about 20% of the population – and that it doesn’t spontaneously regress with age. Sally developed what’s now commonly called the “sea of strengths” model, which describes dyslexia as a localized deficit in the way language is processed, so reading takes longer. It is a problem often seen in children with tremendous strengths; thus, it becomes particularly important to evaluate dyslexics on what they do know – their reasoning ability, say – and not to mistakenly undervalue their potential simply because they are slow readers. Accommodations such as additional time for tests can prove transformative in allowing a dyslexic’s intrinsic ability to be revealed and meaningfully assessed. As a consequence of impact of this research, Sally and Bennett achieved exceptional academic success – both are endowed professors at Yale Medical School, elected members of the National Academy of Medicine, and have led many NIH grants and program projects. Yet – like many entrepreneurs — they were also determined to drive the science into palpable change, in this case for dyslexic students and their families. Together they co-founded the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity and have relentlessly focused not only on advancing the research, but also on ensuring the knowledge finds expression in public policy. They frequently testify before Congress and state legislatures, for example. In 2003, Sally summarized her learnings in her best-selling book, Overcoming Dyslexia; earlier this year, she released a completely-revised and updated second edition, which has been similarly well-received. We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper. Show Notes: “Catch-22 For Mothers” – by Sally Shaywitz, New York Times Sunday Magazine, March 4, 1973 Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity (YCDC) “Success Stories” – profiles of exceptional dyslexics, from YCDC site “The Couple Who Helped Decode Dyslexia” by Katie Hafner, New York Times, September 21, 2018 “Test Early To Detect Dyslexia – Our Children Deserve Nothing Less” by Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writer’s Group (syndicated column, October 2020). Overcoming Dyslexia, 2nd Edition (Knopf, 2020) About the Yale Dyslexia panel – 2015 – featuring Ari Emanuel, Diane Swonk, Brian Grazer, Toby Cosgrove, David Boies, with remarks by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and by Valerie Jarrett.
36 minutes | Nov 9, 2020
Matthew Zachary – Making Noise and Making a Difference that is Music to Patient’s Ears
Matthew Zachary, CEO of Offscrip Media has had multiple careers despite the fact that he shouldn’t have had any. He had studied to be a concert pianist and composer and conductor through college, but at the age of 21, on his way to study in a USC graduate music program with Hans Zimmer, he was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer and told he had 6 months to live. That was in 1995. Matthew credits his uncle, a geneticist, with saving his life, serving as his medical “Sherpa” and helping him “having the chutzpah to challenge established treatment.” But his healthcare experience, and especially the 6 years it took to recover his immune system post-treatment, made clear to him that young patients weren’t getting the information they needed nor the support required to thrive after a medical crisis. Matthew had a thriving media career when a chance meeting of another recovered patient who had the same brain cancer led him to realize that there was a vast gap between patients’ need for knowledge and community and the system’s ability to deliver it. He founded Stupid Cancer in 2006 to help fill this gap, focused especially on helping young people who had survived cancer and were seeking to live out life as normally as possible. During the 12 years he led the organization, every health tech company focused on cancer knocked on Matthew’s door; it led him to the realization that entrepreneurs, by and large, just don’t understand how to build for or reach the right people to ensure their offering makes sense. Matthew has a special beef with how Silicon Valley thinks about healthcare, feeling that the culture leads to building the wrong things for the wrong people. And he further thinks that venture investors don’t care enough to invest in the right things most of the time. As such, Matthew is firm believer in the essential role of peer to peer care and the importance of life hacks, especially when the traditional delivery system doesn’t provide the answers. It is his view that for-profit companies can’t address cancer in an interesting way unless it stops being profit driven, though he recognizes the limitations of the not-for-profit sector as well. Join us for this fun show where we talk to Matthew about his long career in and around healthtech and media – he had the first healthcare-related radio show and interviewed 2000 people over 14 years. He was also the first speaker (and piano player) at the inaugural Health2.0 Conference. We talk to him about what it’s like to see healthtech having its moment, what led to the formation of Stupid Cancer and what it was like to turn the organization over to others, and his new initiative, OffScrip Media, which has reconnected him with his love of being behind the microphone and which is billed as, “a podcast that calls out all sorts of stupid BS in healthcare through raw conversations about advocacy, heroism, and the audacity of health.” We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper. Show Notes: Matthew composed and plays Simplicity, his favorite of his own works.
39 minutes | Oct 26, 2020
Tech Tonics: Kevin Lyman – From Halo to CEO
Kevin Lyman was once the world’s highest ranked Warlock in Worlds of Warcraft and a professional Halo2 player. But that wasn’t his original plan. In fact, growing up in New Jersey, Kevin always wanted to be a scientist, even before he was sure of what that meant. While a student at Renselaer Polytechnic, Kevin took a number of jobs, including toy designer at Hasbro, sensor designer on the Falcon rocket for SpaceX and on the Excel team at Microsoft. But it was his first full time job as an engineer at Enlitic in 2015 that made him realize he wanted to apply his scientific ingenuity to healthcare, a field that he views as one of the few where you can help do something that really helps people. Enlitic took a number oof twists and turns as it built its imaging analytics products, and when those roads came back together as a result of his leadership, Kevin became the CEO in 2018. Kevin talks about what it’s like to be an under-30 CEO, the good and the bad of AI, and how one effectively balances intuition with the logical model inherent in an AI-focused company. He also talks about his current creative outlet – drawing – a sample of which you can see in evidence behind him in his photo. We were delighted to have Kevin on the show. We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with its parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper.
38 minutes | Oct 12, 2020
Tech Tonics: Diana Brainard – A Passion for Patients, A Talent for Leadership
Diana Brainard’s passion for understanding our stories and experiences initially led her to study comparative literature in college; but sometime during her junior year abroad in Lyon, she realized she could pursue her passion through medicine, a journey that’s taken her from academic infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital through her current role as Senior Vice President and head of virology at Gilead Sciences. Born in Chicago, Diana’s family moved to Brooklyn when she was one, then to the Connecticut suburbs when she was seven. A precocious student, she skipped an early grade, found she loved the Montesorri school she attended in New York, but grew bored once she started school in Connecticut. All this changed when she found her way to Hotchkiss Boarding School in 10th grade, and felt as if her mind was awakened – in large measure, she says, because of a number of exceptional teachers. A former tennis player, she picked up squash, and was subsequently recruited by colleges for her skill (and would later become an “academic all-Ivy selection” for her abilities as both student and athlete). Like so many other Tech Tonics guests – including Zak Kohane, Atul Butte, and Ken Mandl — Diana attended Brown, and enthusiastically dove into advanced classes in a range of subjects. The humanities, with its intimate seminars and engaged teachers, proved especially appealing, so she majored in comparative literature and late elected to spent her Junior Year abroad in France. Diana started to envision a future in graduate school, and then perhaps as a literature professor. To her surprise and disappointment, Diana’s experience in France left her disillusioned and she found herself drawn, through literature, into medicine. She was moved by Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, and by the poetry of Williams Carlos Williams, and soon she began a correspondence with Harvard physician and author Robert Coles. Diana ultimately applied to medical school, and attended Tulane, in New Orleans. Diana loved both the city and the medical school experience – in particular, the amount of responsibility students were afforded during the clinical rotations at the famed Charity Hospital. She found a similar sense of responsibility at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she continued her training, first in internal medicine (including a month taking care of patients at an understaffed clinic in Haiti), and ultimately specializing in infectious diseases. Diana’s interest in HIV in particular led her to noted physician-scientist Bruce Walker, under whose guidance she conducted complex translational research (studying HIV in mice she reconstituted with human immune cells). She also helped set up a HIV research facility at the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Though initially contemplating a career in academic infectious diseases, and having earned a competitive K-08 NIH grant to support her efforts, she surprised many of her colleagues by deciding to join Merck, and focus on drug development. Almost immediately, it seems, she knew she made the right decision, as she found herself surrounded by smart and talented colleagues who, like her, seemed to enjoy functioning in a culture that prized collaboration and multidisciplinary team effort rather than personal recognition. Diana’s career surged ahead at Merck, and she soon found herself with an opportunity to join an exciting clinical development team that luminary John McHutchison was just starting to assemble at Gilead, in California; she took it. Good call; Diana would serve as the clinical lead for the breakthrough hepatitis C product, Sovaldi, was one of three people at the company to present it to the FDA. Sovaldi turned out to be as transformative as anticipated and Diana would go on to lead the development and subsequent approval of several additional hepatitis C products. In 2018, she was elevated to SVP of HIV and Emerging Viruses, and her remit was expanded to include hepatitis B and C, and retitled Virology. Just when it seemed like things couldn’t get busier, SARS-CoV-2 came along, and with it, her leadership of an explosive amount of clinical research around the Gilead product, remdesivir (Veklury). It’s been a busy year. Full-disclosure: Diana is also David Shaywitz’s wife – which is not only why we were able to book her, but also why we are especially delighted to welcome her to our show! We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with its parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper.
34 minutes | Sep 28, 2020
Tech Tonics: Geeta Nayyar, Executive Medical Director, Salesforce
Geeta Nayyar started off wanting to be a teacher, but then decided “science is the answer to everything” and became a doctor. Today she is the recently-appointed Executive Medical Director at Salesforce and gets to do both, which is her dream come to life. Geeta’s parents were both MDs and her two brothers are both in the healthcare field (and one is in medical school as a start to a 2nd career), so becoming a doctor was somewhat pre-ordained. She started her own medical training at the age of 17 and continued to fall in love with science, though soon encompassed healthcare IT into her definition of the field. While believing that “science is the answer to everything, even emotion,” Geeta decided to get an MBA after watching the business of healthcare fail patients who needed so much more than what was traditionally provided. While there, she observed the roll-out of the hospital’s first electronic medical record system and became enamored by the potential for technology to change medicine. This lead to becoming one of the first chief medical officers in a tech company, AT&T. But it was a role ahead of its time. Geeta went on to spend time at a startup, at a physician organization and at Greenway, the EMR company, and now has found her way back to a large tech company targeting healthcare: Salesforce. But this time, she feels like a real difference can be made, especially in light of the pandemic, noting that her parents, now in their 70s and still practicing physicians, are performing virtual visits. A recognized force of nature in health IT, we are so happy to welcome Geeta to the show. We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper.
45 minutes | Sep 14, 2020
Tech Tonics: Dr. Ken Mandl – Forging Connection Through Technology
Ken Mandl has a gift for listening to other people, whether they’re mentors offering the advice that shaped his career in pediatrics and informatics at Boston’s Children Hospital and Harvard Medical School, or helping physicians and patients learn from each other by making it easier for them to share information. He’s a pioneering leader of a long-anticipated era whose time, it seems, has finally arrived. The son of a physicist and an English professor, Ken Mandl’s family settled in the Boston area when he was five and, except for a brief college detour to Providence, he’s been shoveling winter snow there ever since. A biology and psychology major at Brown, Ken expected to study child psychology but was drawn toward med school by a conspicuously intense premed roommate (who apparently hadn’t received the Brown memo…). Presumably recognizing the value of competitive peers in raising his game, Ken then matriculated at Harvard Medical School, arriving at a particularly auspicious time. He was a member of the first class of a bold new medical education program called “New Pathway,” featuring small-group learning led by luminaries such as (in Ken’s case) legendary surgeon-innovator Judah Folkman (see here). Ken’s training continued in pediatrics and emergency medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. While and ER doctor there, he appeared as a prosecution witness (for a tragic case of “shaken baby syndrome”) on one of the earliest Court TV cases, where he was cross-examined by noted defense attorney Barry Scheck. While Ken’s student research experience was in traditional molecular biology, he found himself drawn to an intriguing new program focused on clinical effectiveness. After receiving some particularly wise counsel from noted Harvard physician-scientist Howard Hiatt (who Ken describes as “a gentleman and a scholar”), Ken connected with Dr. Troy Brennan (now Chief Medical Officer of CVS Health), and embarked on a fascinating research project looking at the impact of maternal length-of-stay on obstetrics outcomes, which led to some intriguing (if initially controversial) publications. Ken then joined forces professionally with his friend (and previous Tech Tonics guest) Dr. Zak Kohane, who had recently founded a pioneering informatics program at Boston Children’s Hospital. Ken recognized an important opportunity at the intersection of technology, clinical medicine and population health. While initially struggling for funding given the novelty of the field – in fact, his grants would be critiqued simultaneously as proposing research that “can’t be done” and which “had already been done by the dot coms.” Nevertheless, his research soon gained traction and his career took off. Today, a Professor of Pediatrics and Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School, Ken directs the Computational Health Informatics Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is a founder of modern approaches to biosurveillance and is perhaps best known for his work and leadership driving the development of an “app store model for health IT innovation” SMART on FHIR – an initiative David described several years ago Forbesas “our last, best hope for interoperability.” We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper. Show notes: David’s Astounding HealthTech column for Timmerman Report on the recent Duke real world evidence conference – “Closing medicine’s feedback gap: Can tech help integrate clinical care and clinical research?” David’s related 2019 commentary in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics – “A Drug Is not an Outcome: Extending Translation Through Implementation Using Real-World Data”
42 minutes | Aug 24, 2020
Tech Tonics: John Groetelaars – Connecting MedTech to the Digital World
John Groetelaars learned to work with his hands on his family’s vegetable farm, but he realized early that he was more interested in using those hands to build motorcycles and mechanical devices. He followed his inclination first by helping manufacture engines and axles after earning his engineering degree through the GM Institute; he later transferred to the GM’s Chevy Lumina factory. The auto industry was very resistant to change, but John early on recognized the importance of designing for the customer and decided to broaden his skills earning his MBA at Columbia University. His first landing point post MBA – at Eli Lilly and then it’s Guidant spin-out—launched his medical device career and he has never looked back. Many of the Guidant alums from that time went on to become giants of the medical device industry and John is no exception. He had successful stints in the U.S. and globally at Ventrica, Bard and Boston Scientific before being named CEO of Hill-Rom, a public, Fortune 1000 medical device company that is navigating it’s way across the digital and data realm. The healthcare world has gone digital one segment at a time, with medical device companies holding up the end of the parade. Despite what looked like a traditional medtech career, John has pushed Hill Rom to step out in front of the band and right from the start, and set his sights toward re-defining the medical device giant as a connected health company. On the heels of Hill-Rom’s merger with Welch-Allyn and a string of digital health acquisitions, such as that ofVoalte, John is always seeking to find the right investment balance between the company’s medical device history and its digital future. In our discussion John discusses the importance of thinking beyond what’s always been done and the interesting new challenges faced by first-time CEOs, even those with significant management experience. As a leader with a remarkably gender-diverse management team and board of directors, he also discusses why he believes that meaningful commitment to diversity makes companies perform more effectively. We are delighted that John could join us on Tech Tonics! We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper.
39 minutes | Aug 10, 2020
Andrew Trister: From Jersey Boy to Digital Doc
With a knack for engineering and a passion for patients, Andrew Trister career has taken this Jersey boy from radiation oncology to Apple to his current role at the Gates Foundation, where he’s spearheading their efforts to leverage technology to improve the health of people around the world. Andrew – like E Street drummer Max Weinberg — grew up in the lovely North Jersey town of Maplewood, and like Weinberg’s, Andrew’s family was also originally from Eastern Europe and had left to escape persecution (though Weinberg’s family immigrated to the United States several generations earlier). Growing up, Andrew shared the complex experience of many children of immigrants; he says he felt “like an American” within the context of his family, where Romanian, not English, was the first language, but a bit like an outsider among his classmates and neighbors. Inspired by his father (who at one point had started to train as a doctor) and an uncle, who was an engineer, Andrew was drawn to this interface; his interest in becoming a doctor took on a greater sense of urgency following the tragic death of a young cousin from a devastating brain tumor. Always working at the intersection of disciplines, Andrew pursued both engineering and pre-med subjects in college at the University of Pennsylvania, and stayed at Penn for his MD/PhD. His graduate work encompassed both bioengineering and machine learning (presumably before at least one of those disciplines was cool….) He was increasingly gripped by the idea of using technology to improve patient care. He continued his training, in radiation oncology, at the University of Washington, where his career was profoundly impacted by relationships with two polymath, intellectually unfettered mentors: Dr. Mark Groudine and Dr. Stephen Friend. Working with Friend, who was at the time just putting together the open science platform known as Sage Bionetworks (David, incidentally, was a founding advisor of Sage), Andrew became increasingly interested in the possibilities of using wearables to better understand phenotypes, and to advance patient-centric health. Apple, it turned out, was also developing an interest in this space, and Andrew and Stephen would ultimately join Apple for several years to advance their health-focused initiatives. More recently, Andrew returned to Seattle for what seems like the perfect role for him: driving digital health technologies for the Gates Foundation – an effort that, as he discusses, has placed him squarely in the epicenter of a range of COVID-19-related efforts. It’s a challenge worthy of his exceptional talents. We are grateful to Andrew for joining us today on Tech Tonics! We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with its parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping clients across all industries grow and prosper.
36 minutes | Jul 27, 2020
Tech Tonics: Jill Hagenkord’s Wild Ride
Growing up in a small town in Iowa, Jill Hagenkord never imagined herself as a doctor, or scientist, or entrepreneur – yet she became all three, blazing her own path and charting for herself a captivating personal and professional journey. Jill’s childhood was especially difficult; her parents divorced when she was ten, leaving Jill and her siblings struggling to get by, relying on subsidies for both goods and housing. She describes herself as a rebellious student who was secretly good at school, and says she went to college to pursue her interest in “cute boys and fun parties.” She attended the University of Iowa. At college, she worked 2-3 jobs, did really well, and “partied all the time.” Her ultimate career direction would be strongly influenced by a “terrible boyfriend” – a guy who, she said, constantly told her she “wasn’t smart enough to succeed in science classes or get into medical school.” It motivated her to prove him wrong, which she did, time and again, ultimately earning admission to the Stanford MD/PhD program. Jill moved to the Bay Area but lived in San Francisco, not Palo Alto, worked at a bar, and spent as little time in class as possible, while nevertheless mastering all the material. She dropped the PhD part of the training and pursued a residency in pathology at UCSF, but then got drawn into the startup world; while there, she served as a mouse pathologist at a buzzy startup that ultimately IPO’d. Jill initially returned to Iowa to finish her pathology residency, with the plan to settle down and become a “normal” pathologist there, but discovered that she missed the innovation culture she had known in California. So, off she went to University of Pittsburgh, to pursue not one, but two ultra-specialized fellowships (in molecular genetic pathology and pathology/oncology informatics), then returned to the Bay Area to serve in a series of Chief Medical Officer roles, including, most significantly, a role at 23andMe right after they received a highly-publicized warning letter from the FDA. With her help, the company got itself back into the Agency’s good graces; ultimately, Jill was able to sell her shares, and realize a significant return. After a brief period as a medical consultant in the health tech industry, Jill has just started at Optum as Chief Medical Officer of its new Genomics team. She is thinking about living in Iowa. We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with its parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping clients across all industries grow and prosper.
39 minutes | Jul 13, 2020
Tech Tonics: Arnaub Chatterjee – Making Healthcare Smart
Arnaub Chatterjee comes from a long line of physicians, and in his youth, assumed he’d follow the family tradition. At college at the University of Michigan, he pursued a well-traveled path towards medicine, graduating with a degree in cell and molecular biology. But then his heart wandered, and ultimately he found himself having a difficult conversation with his parents. Fortunately, he assures us, his younger sister eventually became a physician, much to his parents’ delight — and relief. Arnaub, meanwhile, pursued an interest at the intersection of the business and policy aspects of healthcare, working for an HMO one summer, a physicians group supporting a national healthcare plan the next, and at https://www.samhsa.gov/within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the summer after that, focused on mental health. He continued his training at Cornell, pursuing an intense dual degree program focused on health policy and healthcare administration – his fellow alums include previous Tech Tonics guest Nancy Schlichting, and also former Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini. Upon graduation, Arnaub pursued healthcare consulting at Deloitte, then left to work in the Obama administration. After initially working in a division focused on Medicare fraud, his life changed when he happened to hear a talk by legendary healthcare innovator and entrepreneur Todd Park. He soon joined Todd and the remarkable group that was around him working to change the way technology could impact health and health policy. Arnaub helped launch healthdata.gov, established the first cohort of the Innovation Fellows program within government and co-authored one of the seminal whitepapers on big data in healthcare with colleagues at McKinsey. Not only was the work interesting, he says, but the relationships he formed shaped the future trajectory of his career. Arnaub’s first post-government role was in health technology at Merck, where he had been recruited by former colleague (and previous Tech Tonics guest) Sachin Jain; Jain had recently left D.C. for Merck and invited Arnaub to join him. There, Arnaub focused on some of the earliest efforts to introduce real word data into Merck’s clincial evidence and data science strategy. Following his time at Merck, he then reconnected with colleagues at McKinsey where he continued to focus on R&D strategy and data science, serving both biopharma and the major technology companies who were entering the healthcare industry. After a McKinsey colleague, Sastry Chilukuri, left to pursue some of these concepts at Medidata – specifically, to develop Medidata’s data science entity, Acorn AI – Arnaub joined him. Today, he serves as the SVP of Product, where he oversees all strategy and go-to-market over products such as synthetic control arms, trial design, imaging analytics and the company’s work in the ‘omics space. We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with its parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping clients across all industries grow and prosper.
33 minutes | Jun 22, 2020
Tech Tonics: Making It Happen – Madeline Bell, CEO, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Madeline Bell is one of those people who decides what they want and does what it takes to make it happen. She grew up wanting to be a nurse, wanting to work with children and ultimately deciding she wanted to lead. She has achieved all three of these things and so much more. Today Madeline is one of America’s few female hospital CEO’s, leading Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the nation’s first hospital devoted exclusively to the care of children. She is one of the 13% of female CEOs in healthcare and she is committed to driving that number upwards, saying, “If we want the face of leadership to change, women have to make it happen.” Madeline always wanted to work in healthcare, though her original plan was to be a nurse. She got her first such role working in a nursing home at age 15 and realized that she wanted to invest her energy in children, where there was more hope for their future. She went to nursing school at Villanova and took her first full time nursing job at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 1983, never knowing she would one day return to as its leader. After returning to school to study organizational dynamics, Madeline took her first hospital administration job at a very entrepreneurial system, Mainline Health, channeling her two entrepreneurial parents. She was ultimately lured back to CHoP as Chief Operating Officer and was elevated to CEO eight years later where she learned how different that job is, particularly when it comes to being the face of the brand. Madeline talks about how her transition to CEO was questioned both because she was a nurse and a woman, but ultimately her success has demonstrated why her background made her particularly effective in her role. She has developed a passion for encouraging other women to seek leadership roles and has her own blog called Heels of Success focused on this topic. She also hosts a podcast, Breaking Through with Madeline Bell, focused on the amazing innovatioons, such as Spark Therapeutics, that emanate from CHoP. While Madeline loves her work and her family, which includes 7 children (!), her real passion is the Philadelphia Eagles, having spent her entire life living in Pennsylvania. We loved having Madeline on Tech Tonics! We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping clients across all industries grow and prosper. Heels of Success (Madeline’s blog) Breaking Through with Madeline Bell (Madeline’s podcast)
43 minutes | Jun 8, 2020
Tech Tonics: Patrick Hines – Helping People is in His DNA
Since March 23, 2020, Dr. Patrick Hines, physician, scientist and entrepreneur has spent most of his time between the Detroit Children’s Hospital and a nearby hotel room, where he stays to minimize COVID-19 risk to his family. He occasionally drops by to participate in movie night from a backyard chair while his wife and kids stay inside on the sofa. But Patrick is undaunted by this, saying that helping people is in his DNA. From very humble beginnings in North Carolina, Patrick watched his parents, both teachers, mentor poor rural kids at school and at home; it inspired in him the desire to give back. Patrick’s dad, a classically-trained baritone, accomplished singer, and choir director at the local college, was also his musical role model. Patrick made his way through college on a music scholarship, playing French horn and trumpet. But all the while, he was drawn to science. Having majored in chemistry at Hampton University, a historically black college in Virginia, Patrick set off to get his PhD but soon realized that research wasn’t enough of a people profession to satisfy his desire to serve. So off he went to medical school at UNC Chapel Hill, where he had the good fortune to meet his clinical mentor and learn about the vastly undeserved clinical needs of people with sickle cell disease. Patrick, now a PhD and MD, ultimately trained to become a pediatric intensive care physician. He worked first at Children’s Hospital of Philadephia (CHoP) and later at Detroit Children’s Hospital, but he also founded Functional Fluidics, a company that focuses on red blood cell health generally and sickle cell anemia diagnostics specifically. The idea for the company came from his recognition that therapeutics to treat the condition kept failing clinical trials because there was no surrogate endpoint and that he could bring a solution to this problem and to patients who had so few treatment options. Patrick is now in the process of transitioning out of his regular ICU role to dedicate himself full-time to his young, growing company. Patrick speaks on the podcast about his difficulty raising money as a black founder and how these experiences were even more challenging than some of the prejudice he has faced as a black physician. Given our current discourse on race in America, it is an eye-opening first person account of how someone with significant intellect, experience, and education can come up against the limitations of others’ small thinking. But despite those that have told him his efforts were less than, Patrick has made it pretty clear that he is not giving up – he sees his work as a lifeline to people and intends to live out the helping gene passed on from his parents. Says Patrick, “It is my responsibility to be sure people with sickle cell matter and to get them the medical resources they need.” Patrick has also returned to music, singing publicly with his dad for the very first time last year. As an avid jazz enthusiast (see below for his favorite song) he is excited to be back around music. And he is especially glad to be leaving his pandemic-driven hotel stay and returning to his family for the everyday hugs, skirmishes and all of the things that were once annoying and are now a joy to experience. Welcome home Patrick and thanks for being on the show! We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping clients across all industries grow and prosper.
39 minutes | May 18, 2020
Tech Tonics: Craig Lipset – Patient-Centric Before It Was Cool
As a boy, Craig Lipset thought he wanted to become a doctor – but over time, he came to appreciate that his real interest was, as he put it, engaging in the spirit of medicine at the population level – a pursuit that ultimately brought him to the forefront of digital health at Pfizer, establishing a capability long before most pharmas even recognized they needed it. Craig grew up in the distinct cultural milieu that is the North Shore of Long Island. A middle child with an interest in music and medicine, he attended Brandeis, where he majored in music, took pre-med classes, and worked for an EMS service in Waltham, MA. In 1992 he returned to New York, and obtained an MPH at Columbia, and discovered he loved thinking about populations, and wanted to learn more about the organizations helping to study them. After graduation in 1998, he considered consulting, but instead joined a contract research organization, Parexel and worked closely with Dr. Mark Goldberg, who would go on to become the President and COO. He eventually left Parexel to join a VC-backed company in Waltham that was ultimately acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb. At around this time, Craig’s life changed dramatically and unexpectedly when he was diagnosed with pulmonary sarcoidosis. He decided to make a life change, so he returned to the New York area and joined Pfizer in 2006, where he would stay for eleven years. Craig built their clinical innovation program from a footnote to a core business capability. Within a year of joining Pfizer, Craig began to apply his personal experience as an e-patient and was designing the industry’s first fully at-home decentralized clinical trial – the Pfizer REMOTE study. During his tenure, Pfizer — along with the rest of the industry –would increasingly begin to appreciate the value of digital and the opportunity for patient-centricity that Craig had been championing so passionately for years. Today, Craig serves as an independent adviser, sharing his experience, expertise, and learnings with biopharma companies, startups, and investors.
49 minutes | May 4, 2020
Tech Tonics: Tele-behavioral Health – Breaking Down Barriers and Stigmas at a Time of Escalating Need
For 20 years, advocates of telemedicine have been trying to break through to common usage. For all of modern human history, those with mental health challenges have held back from seeking treatment due to the stigma associated with doing so. And then, a Chinese bat opened the flood gates. Today we are seeing record usage of telemedicine, especially for mental health needs of all types. Regular Tech Tonics listeners know our usual approach is in-depth personal interviews with individuals. Today, in light of current events, we decided to take a topical detour into how the coronavirus pandemic has driven vast advances in the use of telemedicine and has brought out into the open the importance of access to mental health treatment. The combination of these things into what we know now as tele-behavioral health, is our topic today. We invited three tele-behavioral health experts serving different populations to join the show and share with us what they are seeing in the new world order; those people are: Russell Glass, CEO of Ginger Margaret Laws, co-founder of Nod (and CEO of HopeLab) Steve Smith, CEO of NOCD Notably, all three of these organizations are experiencing skyrocketing use of their tele-behavioral health products and have seen some surprising customers enter their system. Interestingly, the pandemic has driven a stunning rise in telemedicine, but also a much greater openness to discussing and acting on the need for mental health care. Un-hampered by lack of reimbursement or physician/provider reluctance, these companies’ digital approaches are gaining in popularity in a way that may be persistent post-crisis. And not only are patients enjoying their experiences; they consistently report that access challenges have been markedly reduced as compared to the pre-pandemic era. Imagine that. Never has the need for mental health care been more acute. The Kaiser Family Foundation notes that “More than four in ten adults overall (45%) feel that worry and stress related to coronavirus has had a negative impact on their mental health, up from 32% in early March.” If one needed more proof of the mental health crisis we are facing, prescriptions per week for antidepressants, anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia drugs increased by 21% between February 16 and March 15, peaking the week of March 15 when the virus was deemed a pandemic. The largest increase was in anti-anxiety medications, according to the report, which rose by 34.1% over that month, in contrast to double digit drops in the use of some of these medications over the previous five years, according to this Fierce Healthcare article. We are grateful to our guests for their willingness to do the show and even more so for their commitment tackling the issues that are plaguing so many people today. Whether you are an adult, a child, a teen; whether you are someone with serious mental health issues or more common ones; whether you are alone, with your family, or in any other situation, know that there is help out there for you – you can access mental health services 24-hours a day by telemedicine by accessing these three companies and many others. We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics—Manatt Health is a multi-disciplinary professional services firm that integrates a full-service law firm with a broad-based strategic business and policy consulting practice to help our clients grow and prosper. Manatt Health supports the full range of stakeholders in transforming America’s healthcare system. Show Notes: Kaiser Family Foundation report on coronavirus impact on mental health Great Forbes article about Nod and how it can help during the pandemic Press Release about Free Access to Mental Health Coaching during the Pandemic https://abcnews.go.com/US/living-ocd-pandemic/story?id=70237405 List of available mental health resources during the pandemic crisis (not exhaustive and frequently updated) Lisa’s article on the dramatic rise in digital health as a result of the pandemic. David’s interview in Timmerman Report with his brother, Jonathan, a psychiatrist in L.A. who was an early adopter of telemedicine. Jonathan discusses his first-hand experiences adjusting to this technology.
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