From John Hodge, Jr., Principal
As a continuation of our Digital Health Talent Report series, we have surveyed industry leaders to understand their perspective and experiences hiring leaders responsible for Digital Health initiatives and how this talent is shaping the future of the industry:
– Rachel King – VP/GM, Smart Connected Care at BD
– Stephanie Ainscow – VP/GM, Data Products at Insulet
– Rajit Kamal – VP/GM, Surgical Robotics at Medtronic
Biggest learnings within the last 12 months
Hiring managers have many considerations when building their leadership teams in the emerging Digital Health space. We were interested to find out what the current critical candidate requirements are for Digital Health leadership roles:
– UX experience: digital solutions are changing the way clinicians and patients are interacting with medical technology, and each other. King explains how leaders must understand “how they (clinicians and patients) interact with the technology and whether they can interpret information to change their behavior.”
– Resilience: King discusses that “digital leaders need to be able to be patient and remain resilient in the face of resistance. They require the skills to hold productive conversations, using data, to generate more interest and openness over time.”
– Agility: King, Kamal, and Ainscow all commented on the importance for adaptability and quick learning and how individuals should be able to demonstrate continuous success in achieving milestones and refining the product or service based on new data. Ainscow reiterated the importance of “how fast we can learn, and then how fast we can pivot.”
– The Power of Remote/Hybrid: Ainscow discussed the benefits and implications of building hybrid and remote teams and how talent must be able to create energy and connectivity between staff: “it gives you a much broader ability to obtain the right talent and not be limited by geography, but at the same time you have to make extra efforts to ensure the team can work effectively in that way.”
Kamal gave advice for MedTech companies facing extreme competition for talent and emphasizes using the “value prop of healthcare” to attract talent. MedTech companies cannot compete on speed of operations as they are heavily regulated businesses and offer the best they can in terms of compensation, but where they really have an edge is in “the mission of what you are trying to do.”
Hiring talent from outside the healthcare industry
The leaders discussed the regulatory burden associated with hiring people from non-regulated industries, while commenting on the competitive edge that can result from hiring from other heavily regulated industries outside of healthcare. Ainscow gave the example of recruiting people from the Financial Services and Oil & Gas industries, noting that:
“Where there is a desire to engage more with patients and make things easier for the patient, as well… it really helps to have folks with consumer backgrounds and think about consumer interfaces that we work with every day… when you go to your Fidelity or your Schwab app, the simplicity of that experience, those are things that you don’t get if you are focused purely on the clinical or medical side.”
Another example she provided was Oil & Gas, and how these companies effectively look at patterns to determine where they should drill and how that skillset can be converted into a MedTech context to create a new best practice that simply doesn’t exist within competitors who only have leaders from the healthcare industry.
Kamal discussed data privacy, security, and other key software-specific topics. He explained that having leaders with significant experience in these areas brings great value by embedding best practices relating to these topics into strategy and process from the outset.
King commented on the benefits of mapping out the key capabilities you need in certain roles and targeting the right industries where these skills are typically very strong. For example: “Pharma is much more advanced on pipeline innovation and evidence generation because of how that industry is driven, so it goes back to what skills you need and what the success formula is, and understanding which industries best cultivate those skills.”
Advice for hiring managers
There are many mistakes and misconceptions hiring managers have experienced when hiring talent within this space, so we asked our leaders what they should look out for. Kamal contends that you need to ensure leaders are “open to learning and taking in new opinions and advice, and really listen to people.” Learning agility is crucial and cannot be understated as a skill because Digital Health is an emerging domain and is constantly evolving.
King emphasized that hiring managers shouldn’t be swayed by the buzzwords and list of previous companies someone has worked for. She explained the importance of having someone on your interview panel who can pressure-test their depth of knowledge and evaluate the culture and ways of working they are accustomed to and whether that aligns them for success in the position they are interviewing for.
Ainscow noted that it is important to “hire someone who’s open-minded to keeping up with the trends but is not someone who’s so quick to jump on every trend that they never achieve stability… so, I think having a balance of old and new.” It’s key that Digital Health leaders are open to experimenting but aren’t so focused on “what’s new” that they impact productivity by pivoting too often.