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Leading and Building in the Healthtech Space

Words of wisdom and tangible resources from the Remedy community 

Being an effective leader in the healthtech space is hard. You’re juggling the traditional startup challenges limited runway, changing markets, red tape in addition to trying to serve a population in need. 


Tarul Kode, Remedy Scout and VP of Clinical Consulting at Calibrate, is no stranger to these complexities. With experiences at Spora Health, Redesign Health, Techstars, Big Rio AI, and Chief — along with a passion for mission-driven leadership Dr. Kode has spent her career gathering nuggets of wisdom on effective leadership in the healthcare ecosystem, focused specifically on innovation.


At Remedy, collaborating with healthtech leaders is our bread and butter. Throughout the last 10 years, we have witnessed firsthand how leaders can effectively make strides in the landscape. 


We asked Dr. Kode, along with leaders at Remedy portfolio companies, their recommendations for making an impact within the challenging digital health space:



  1. Keep your mission simple


Early-stage start-ups are bound to encounter challenges that require pivots. With limited runway, new population needs, changing industry trends, and regulatory roadblocks, flexibility is critical.


That’s why Dr. Kode recommends keeping your mission statement simple. Healthtech companies are often mission-driven, looking to serve a population in need. While you need to know who you’re aiming to help and why, being flexible with how you do so gives you the space to pivot when needed. 


“When I was building a healthcare leadership consulting practice, I focused on building our website around our core values. It was general enough to inspire community engagement, but we intentionally did not pigeonhole ourselves into one area of practice,” Dr. Kode said.

 

Beyond her consulting practice, she pointed to our partner Caraway, whose mission is to change the way Gen Z experiences the healthcare system. 

Caraway product screens by Lubna Hameed

Caraway’s COO and Co-Founder Josh Tauber explained, “Our mission is simple: to create a new healthcare experience for Gen Z. This singular focus has driven every aspect of our business at every stage, even as our strategy and tactics have evolved along the way.”


Remedy’s Product Manager for Caraway, Sergei Serdechny, explained how this flexibility has aided in Remedy’s builds with Caraway: 


“Caraway’s mission was incorporated into the product vision from the outset and informed strategy every step of the way,” Serdechny said. “All our user research which looked at Gen Z’s frequently used apps, favorite screen layout and resolution, most-used devices, etc. was done with that broad vision in mind. The mission influenced all tech-related decisions, but its flexibility allowed us to reshape design.”


Knowing who you want to help without forcing yourself into one box gives you space to experiment during your product build while maintaining clear and measurable goals.



2. Find teammates who share your passion, and trust them to execute 


It takes a village to build a startup. Well, maybe not a village, but certainly a passionate team.


As a leader, surrounding yourself with people who share your passion for the company’s mission brings another key ingredient into the mix trust. 


“When you find folks who align with your values, you can get people moving in the same direction as you. Then, you have to be able to trust the people you are building with to do the thing,” Dr. Kode said.


Our friends over at Ash Wellness, a Remedy partner making diagnostic testing accessible to all, emphasized that making sure mission-alignment across all their teammates including technical hires has been a key component in building trust.


“Everybody on the team, regardless of role, values our mission and understands the importance of the process we facilitate for the patients we serve,” Nick Sempere, Ash Co-Founder and Head of Engineering, said. “At all levels, we appreciate the delicacy of that moment. I think this is a real edge we have over other players in the market.”


So, finding passionate teammates is important, but where do you find these like-minded folks? Dr. Kode said it’s a cocktail of putting yourself out there and naturally attracting compatible people.


“For me, I built on my passion by joining a leadership program and forming deep connections with leaders who align with my values. I publish content, share successes of the people I admire in a consistent manner. It’s organic,” Dr. Kode said. “If you’re being authentic, open, and vulnerable, you’ll naturally attract the community you want to build with.”


The leaders of Ash Wellness echoed this sentiment. 


Ash Wellness at home testing kit by Mio Akasako

“Because we emphasize our mission and values in everything that we do, we are fortunate to have naturally attracted community members and clients who resonate,” Mio Akasako, Ash Co-Founder and VP of Design, said. “We also frequently host happy hours for the larger healthtech community to support each other's respective goals. This has helped Ash to grow and foster a community around doing good for all.” 


In other words, take action! Write blog posts. Post on LinkedIn. Go to happy hours. Sign up for structured programs. Set up one-on-ones. 


If you’re struggling to find events and programs for your niche, check out some of our favorite spots for discovering upcoming opportunities: nextNYC (Charlie O’Donnell), Healthcare Homies (Gus Roman), Healthtech Hang (Harry Goldberg), Pepper NYC (Rohan Siddhanti), Healthcare Huddle (Jared Dashevsky), Remedy Product Studio’s newsletter (that’s right, we host events too).


Not finding the right events? Host your own! Here are a few of our favorite event hosting platforms: Markit Social, Luma, Partiful.



3. Build trust with the community you’re serving and involve them in your product build


No one knows the problem like the user. No matter what you’re building, it’s important to be user-centric. But in healthcare, it’s especially important. 


“If you’re moving too quickly, without putting patients in the center, and you’re not delivering on something you’ve promised, it’s really hard to gain that trust back,” Dr. Kode said. “When you’re trying to solve a patient problem, you have to listen to and incorporate their perspectives. Maybe you won’t solve the problem overnight, but it has to be a part of your north star.”


Remedy partner and portfolio company Every Mother  a physical therapy subscription platform making core and pelvic floor health solutions more accessible for new and expecting mothers echoed this sentiment. Allison Rapaport, Every Mother’s Co-Founder and CEO, says “to truly be mission-driven and for-profit at the same time, we have to consider our user needs as the priority alongside financial viability, never behind it.” 


Every Mother preview window product screens

By prioritizing patient voices, Every Mother has been able to proactively serve their patient’s specific physical needs through adjusted product strategy and added features since day one.


“For example, in the beginning, our users told us that they had trouble switching from one exercise to another in our product in the time allotted without knowing what was next,” Rapaport said. “We were very tight on resources, yet figured out a way to demonstrate a preview window with the next move at the bottom of each clip. We did it ourselves in a video editor. This was a scalable solution that answered their call and worked very well to meet their needs.”


Evidently, involving patients early in your product build is important, but you might be wondering how to effectively involve them.


The most effective way to do it? By talking to them directly and frequently. 


It sounds simple, but to create effective feedback loops, you need to establish trust. 

Do this by being authentic and creating open dialogues built on comfort and openness. The more you enter patient spaces and learn from their lived experiences, the more nuanced your understanding of their problems will be. 

  • Learn to speak in the patients’ languages

  • Connect with patient advocacy groups

  • Go to patient group conferences

  • Enter their digital communities (e.g. Facebook groups)

  • Connect with nurses and caregivers by entering academic settings and hospital systems


“I think creating opportunities for users to speak directly to decision-makers in your company has tremendous benefits for both sides,” Rapaport said about making these efforts. “Ongoing user research is not a luxury but rather a critical piece of the puzzle, especially in healthtech.”


 

Digital health is a complex space, so our last tip for you is to find other passionate founders, thought-leaders, and investors to bounce ideas off of and ask for advice when the going gets tough.


With healthtech companies making up 58% of our partners, Remedy’s got a diverse network to tap into. Check us out on LinkedIn to see who we’re connected with, and reach out to us at hello@remedyproduct.com to get more involved in our community.


If you want to chat more in depth about mission-driven leadership, reach out to Dr. Kode directly to read her insights and discuss her favorite topic.

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