ET-049: A conversation with Ms. Bethany Corbin
ET-049: A conversation with Ms. Bethany Corbin
with your host Wayne Brown on May 30, 2023
with your host Wayne Brown on May 30, 2023
Episode notes: A conversation with Ms. Bethany Corbin
Hello, I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as team ET.
Today, we’re off to the East Coast of the USA, stopping off to visit our guest in Charlotte, North Carolina. We’re very happy to be welcoming Ms. Bethany Corbin to our show.
Ms. Corbin is a healthcare innovation Femtech attorney, who’s on a mission to help thought-leading companies revolutionize the global women’s healthcare sector.
Bethany is the founder of FemInnovation, which helps founders, clinicians, politicians, and advocates transform and disrupt standard care delivery for women’s health through specially tailored legal and educational programs, thought leadership, and advocacy.
In this month May 2023, Bethany was named,
“Champion in Healthcare by the Global HEAL Awards”
Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…
“… And my career actually started very differently than where I’m at now. I was one of those attorneys that everybody probably hated because I was in the litigation in the financial services field when I first started out, and so we were doing things like helping the big banks foreclose on mortgages, and it was something that I just absolutely hated because I didn’t feel like I was able to make a difference.
It can be difficult to feel like you can make a difference with such a big corporation. And so I really got to thinking, “Where is my passion? What do I wanna do? Because clearly it is not this and is this all it means to be an attorney and to be in one of those professionally hated fields?…”
Today’s Guest: MS. BETHANY CORBIN
Not only is Bethany recognized as a leader at the intersection of women’s health, law, and technology, she was also named a Top 200 trailblazing leader in women’s health in Femtech, but her strategic insights have been featured in many of the top news outlets.
As you know Team ET, I get the opportunity to meet with and have conversations with a lot of very interesting people through my business, and in particular during the past 12 months on this podcast.
One thing that always jumps out very clearly and very early in the first meeting is the level of authenticity and the depth of knowledge the person has that I’m meeting with for their field of expertise. And I’m excited to say that on both counts, I consider Bethany to be a 10.
Seriously, I know who I’m gonna be calling should I need any corporate legal advice in the future or even just want to obtain some guidance around current or future digital healthcare options.
When you listen to the conversation, I feel quietly confident that you’re gonna understand why I’m making those statements. It really became increasingly clear during our conversation why so many services call on Bethany for legal support.
Final words from Bethany:
“One of the things that I would absolutely, say is, we have to keep innovating and we have to keep being open to the new solutions that come on the market regardless of the past and painful experiences that we’ve had with other digital health technologies because we’re constantly evolving.
And so what the market looks like today, even though certain digital health fields may look saturated, they’re only saturated at the level because we haven’t thought harder about how to innovate better in those areas.
And so I fully believe that there are better technological solutions out there that we haven’t thought of yet, and being open to including those in your platform and taking a broad look at what your employees need, especially at the different stages of their lives, that’s gonna be crucial to making sure that you stay competitive in the long term with employee retention.
So I’m really excited about where the future of digital health goes from here. There’s been a lot of kind of doom and gloom talk, we’re seeing a downturn in digital health funding right now, but I think the more that we as consumers and as corporations continue to demand innovative solutions, the more our voices will be heard and we will actually see higher levels of innovation than we’re seeing right now…”
0:00:03.0 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m your host Wayne Brown and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, who we are affectionately referring to as Team ET. Today, we’re off to the East Coast of the USA, stopping off to visit our guest in Charlotte, North Carolina. We’re very happy to be welcoming Ms. Bethany Corbin on our show. Ms. Corbin is a health care innovation Femtech attorney, who’s on a mission to help thought-leading companies revolutionize the global women’s health care sector. Bethany is the founder of FemInnovation, which helps founders, clinicians, politicians and advocates transform and disrupt standard care delivery for women’s health through specially tailored legal and educational programs, thought leadership and advocacy. Not only is Bethany recognized as a leader at the intersection of women’s health, law and technology, she was also named a Top 200 trailblazing leader in women’s health in Femtech, but her strategic insights have been featured in many of the top news outlets.
0:01:07.6 WB: As you know Team ET, I get the opportunity to meet with and have conversations with a lot of very interesting people through my business, and in particular during the past 12 months on this podcast. One thing that always jumps out very clearly and very early in the first meeting is the level of authenticity and the depth of knowledge the person has that I’m meeting with for their field of expertise. And I’m excited to say that on both counts, I consider Bethany to be a 10. Seriously, I know who I’m gonna be calling should I need any corporate legal advice in the future or even just want to obtain some guidance around current or future digital health care options. When you listen to the conversation, I feel quietly confident that you’re gonna understand why I’m making those statements. It really became increasingly clear during our conversation why so many services call on Bethany for legal support. So with that Team ET, please ready yourself now to capture the insight shared by Ms. Bethany Corbin in this episode titled A Meeting at the Crossroads of Law, Healthcare and Technology.
0:02:16.5 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.
0:02:33.6 WB: Alright, welcome back, Team ET. Great to have you here for yet another week and we’re just talking with our guest about how quickly this week is going, it’s just phenomenal. Today is a really interesting topic, and I probably say that all the time, but it is. It’s about healthcare, it’s about healthcare within the corporation, and it’s about how technology is now starting to play a role within that healthcare scene and some of the dynamics that are playing out as a result. Our guest, Bethany Corbin, welcome to the ET Project, Bethany, first. We’ll say hello and then we’ll get into some questions. You’re welcome.
0:03:13.4 Bethany Corbin: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here for this discussion.
0:03:17.9 WB: You will have heard me say in the intro about Bethany being an attorney, not my favourite profession, so sorry, Bethany.
0:03:27.5 BC: It’s nobody’s favorite profession. We do not get a lot of love.
0:03:31.8 WB: You have a really interesting dynamic or an intersection, as you call it, between law, healthcare and technology, and I think it’s a perfect setup for the direction that the world is heading at the moment, to be honest. We all hear so much hype, well, it’s probably not hype, it’s probably reality, but it feels like hype around this healthcare space and the challenges that we’re facing within healthcare, spurred on of course by the pandemic, which has probably been great from a media perspective and also great from a health perspective, but not necessarily the reason only behind why everything seems to be moving fast, where I believe it’s been on this trajectory for some time now, where we see health care really starting to ramp up and make some significant inroads towards many areas of the medical profession.
0:04:28.1 WB: So I wanna bring you into the conversation and I’m gonna begin with that, just to frame it, when we first spoke a few weeks ago, I was talking about a book that I was reading called Life Force. It was written by Tony Robbins, released back in 2022, I think, by Tony Robbins, Peter Diamandis and Robert Hariri. Really fascinating book. And when we got to meet, it was so aligned and so much in parallel and you focus on so many of the things that they talk about in that book, so I’m really excited to see how we can massage this conversation in that direction. I love to start with all the guests talking a little bit about your backstory, a bit of history about what brought you to the career that you’re in. So if maybe you can start there.
0:05:20.5 BC: Absolutely, I’m happy to. And my career actually started very differently than where I’m at now. I was one of those attorneys that everybody probably hated because I was in the litigation in the financial services field when I first started out, and so we were doing things like helping the big banks foreclose on mortgages, and it was something that I just absolutely hated because I didn’t feel like I was able to make a difference. It can be difficult to feel like you can make a difference with such a big corporation. And so I really got to thinking, “Where is my passion? What do I wanna do? Because clearly it is not this and is this all it means to be an attorney and to be in one of those professionally hated fields?”
0:06:00.6 BC: And so the more that I thought about it, I realized that I had a really deep connection with healthcare, because my mom has been involved in the healthcare system since I was a small child, and she had one of those illnesses that really took seven years to diagnose, so we went through all the different permutations of the health care system, all the gaslighting that can occur, really having no access to digital health tools and having to physically go to all these different hospitals across the world, Mayo Clinic, all of that without the digital technology and the convenience that we have today. So I thought about that and thought that healthcare seemed really interesting. “I wonder what that would look like for a healthcare lawyer.”
0:06:41.9 BC: I ended up doing a healthcare LLM, went into a big law firm at Washington DC, where I worked in healthcare for a while, and then I ended up actually going to be a professor of law at Wake Forest University. And it was there that I was doing some just general health law research for my scholarship, and I came across this term Femtech. And for those who aren’t familiar, because it is a very recently coined term in 2016, Femtech referred to female health technology, so technological solutions that were really focused on helping women’s health care. And I thought that was really interesting. I did some more research in it, and I realized that nobody in the legal field was talking about it, and that was around 2018, 2019.
0:07:23.0 BC: After that, I had my own very unexpected women’s health issue that was diagnosed at just a regular physical exam, and so that really thrust me into having to do my own research to see what treatment options were out there for this illness. And I learned that the treatment options were so few, they were still very invasive, yet this was a condition that up to 80% of women could have. And that really transformed my career trajectory because I thought, “I wanna help start-ups. I really wanna help that digital health startup field, especially those who are looking to bring and revolutionize women’s health care products to the market and really help drive innovation.” So I’ve now started my own firm called FemInnovation that really helps to support digital health founders and those in the women’s health community.
0:08:10.6 WB: Great story. And hopefully the health issue is under control or resolved?
0:08:17.0 BC: Yeah, it’s under control for right now, so fingers crossed.
0:08:19.9 WB: Okay.
0:08:20.9 BC: We need more innovation for the women who come behind me.
0:08:24.8 WB: Yeah, well, like I said, with that book that I was reading, it certainly provides a lot of prompts, what lies ahead. And I know within the tech area of health, you do some work around wearables. And I was gonna talk about that later, but I’m just thinking now, is there a particular style that you’re focused on with wearable technology?
0:08:49.0 BC: Yeah, it’s a great question. So we work with companies that do all types of wearables, obviously the ones that people are most familiar with, are gonna be those fitness trackers or the health trackers, like the Fitbit, the Apple Watch, those types of things coming onto the market, Belab for women. There’s other types though of “wearables” that we see. Those can be things like necklaces that have sensor trackers in them, they can be more bracelets or rings, Oura is one that’s really come on to the market, having some women’s health partnerships, cardiac monitors, those types of things. And then we also see very frequently things like the apps, where you’re inputting user data, that’s not necessarily a wearable, but it is more of the direct to-consumer products, similar to a wearable that’s out there. Really, really see a lot of proliferation in apps right now.
0:09:38.8 BC: There’s also, when we think about wearables, things that are coming on to the market that are being used more for remote patient monitoring, like the blood pressure cuffs, and there’s some new sleep technology actually that can monitor your sleep cycles and see if you potentially have sleep apnea or things like that that are coming on to the market as well. So I kinda put those into the medical device wearable category just because they technically go on your body.
0:10:05.5 WB: Yeah, it’s probably the best category of, anyway. Let’s start with a really broad question and then we’ll zoom in a little bit. You can tell by my black hair that I’m so young, but if I look back over my career and look at the journey with health and healthcare, and it appears that as a global society, we’re making progress in the right direction when it comes to health care. Is that a fair statement?
0:10:33.9 BC: Yes, I absolutely think that’s a fair statement. I think a lot of that has been driven by the COVID pandemic. But as you mentioned earlier, some of those building blocks were getting in place, it was just accelerated.
0:10:44.9 WB: Right. That being the case, and of course, that’s a generalized thing, there will be countries that are more advanced than other countries, but as a generalization, we seem to be living longer, gradually, progressively, therefore we can imagine that health care is improving. I’m looking at corporations and I’m wondering, has that general global trend transpired across industries that drive the economy? Is the health care transferring inside corporations improving?
0:11:20.9 BC: Yeah, fantastic question. I think we’ve definitely seen on a global perspective, innovations and enhancements in the types of health care that we’re seeing across corporations and their emphasis on health care within the workplace. I think that’s something that’s really been driven in the last two to three years, where we’ve seen a focus on employee well-being, and more and more corporations really starting to offer different digital solutions to their employee base. Things like subscriptions to Headspace or Calm or other type of meditation apps. We’ve seen some employers really take a focus on employee mental health, and by doing so adding to their benefits package virtual online therapy sessions, so things like that, we’ve really started to see.
0:12:04.9 BC: It doesn’t necessarily mean that we have created an environment where individuals feel comfortable talking about their health conditions within the workplace yet, it doesn’t mean that we still don’t have significant barriers whenever we think about corporations and the health care they’re providing. A lot of health care still is dominated and determined by the type of corporation that you work for, and that can, depending on the type of job that you have and the income that you’re making, can result in health disparities at a lot of different levels. So we’re getting there, we’re definitely making progress in the right direction, especially with the digital health tools that are being offered, but there’s still quite a bit of ways to go there.
0:12:45.5 WB: Yeah, if we wound the clock back a decade, what sort of progress have we seen in this last 10 years for corporations? Has it been significant or is it just that continuum that you would expect to see anyway.
0:13:00.4 BC: Yeah, so we have seen significant progress, when you think about corporations and the digital health landscape, just in general. A lot of the solutions that corporations had employed before, we’re gonna be kind of your standard health care packages where you see a primary care physician, you have a health plan that reimburses you, that type of thing was pretty standard. Now with the proliferation of digital health technology, especially in the last three years with the COVID pandemic, we’re seeing more and more of those corporations really flocking to those digital health solutions, not just for employees, but because they can actually be revenue-saving for the employers and the corporations themselves.
0:13:39.6 BC: There’s been, there’re studies that show that if you enhance access to digital health care, then you’re going to end up saving money as a corporation because the burden of illnesses across the globe for the workforce can be billions and billions of dollars. So if you’re enhancing access, you’re enhancing the ability for individuals to get, whether it’s physical or mental health conditions treated, and you’re therefore improving the productivity of your workforce. And so that’s something that we’ve really started to see happen over the last couple of years. I find that very encouraging.
0:14:13.5 BC: And I also… So that kinda gives it a return on investment per se for the employers in order to provide those solutions to the employees. The other thing I would think that we’re seeing globally too, is just over the 2019, 2020, 2021, we saw a massive amount of new digital health solutions come to the market, and a lot of these corporations, as part of their health plan, they’re incorporating those different products, and it might be things that we haven’t seen before, like fertility apps and fertility treatments are coming on for women’s health care. We talked a bit briefly about mental health solutions. It could be things that are more focused on preventive care, because you have that ability, at a relatively low cost, to provide access to those solutions.
0:15:00.3 BC: When we look at 2021 in general, we saw there was significant funding for the digital health industry, and there was more than about $30 billion in deals being done across the globe. So we had a lot of companies getting a $100 million plus funding rounds, and that has also really driven innovation for corporations because they are looking to partner with corporations, with employers, that’s one of their key consumer bases that they wanna partner with.
0:15:30.4 WB: So that sounds very promising. I was thinking if I’m a CEO sitting in a startup, and it could all seem a little bit overwhelming, where do I start? Maybe we can look at a couple of scenarios if you don’t mind and I won’t play devil’s advocate, but I’m happy to see that we’re making progress, but I’m also curious, is it really everywhere? And I can imagine it’s not. If we’re a startup, what sort of advice would you offer to the board of the startup to help them understand where do they look, what is the awareness they need to have, and how do they stay current with everything that’s happening?
0:16:10.9 BC: Yeah, fantastic question. And you’re absolutely right. The kind of proliferation of digital tools, their adoption by employers, it’s not happening across the industries, across the globe at the same levels. Obviously, those corporations that hire more people, the well-known ones, Amazon, etcetera, they’re gonna have much higher benefit packages, much broader and robust benefit packages than somebody who is per se, a startup company.
0:16:39.7 BC: So if you are a start-up, what do you think about? What do you do? The first thing to know is if the relevant laws about what you are required to do as an employer or a corporation that’s starting up. Some laws may not apply until you have a certain number of employees, and then they might require a certain minimum number of benefits, healthcare offerings, that type of thing. So just making sure that you’re acquainted with the legal framework and the regulatory framework. And then also really thinking about who are your employees? Are they all men? Are there women interspersed? What is their age demographic? Where are they located? Do they have access easily to healthcare in-person versus needing these digital health solutions?
0:17:23.3 BC: And I think that that’s something that a lot of employers don’t necessarily take into consideration at the very early stages of company formation. It can be very easy to say, “You know what, we’re gonna pick the cheapest solution that we can right now, because we’re obviously in start-up funding mode, we need money, and that’s something that we can afford to be a little cheaper on.” But if you really think about what your employees need in terms of their health care conditions, where they’re located, do they have that access, that can help you determine which health solutions you should be offering them, because it’s not just gonna be a one-size-fits-all across all corporations.
0:18:01.9 BC: So if you are, for instance, more heavily female-dominated employee base, what that might mean is that, you’re gonna think about things like adding infertility solutions or having maternal health leave, those types of things, where if you’re primarily, you’re predominantly a male-employee base, you’re not thinking… Maybe those aren’t solutions that you need to be investing in right now. And the other thing to think about too is, how can digital health solutions help to save you money?
0:18:31.3 BC: So we’ve seen a transition, definitely in the US, but starting in other parts of the world as well, to more of the kind of virtual-first or virtual-only health care system, which can relieve burden on providers, etcetera, ’cause we do already have provider shortages across the globe, and that can really spur and enhance the adoption of digital technologies where you’re only going to actually physically see a provider if there’s a reason to, but you can get a quality care through that digital technology.
0:19:03.6 BC: The other thing to think about is, are you in a demographic or a jurisdiction that has the broadband capabilities or the digital infrastructure to support the digital health solutions, because if not, that’s not gonna be something that you necessarily wanna offer to your employees or invest in. So really understanding your employee base, where they’re located and what they need, and that’s not only gonna help you choose the cost efficient solutions for that base, but it’ll also enhance your employee satisfaction, because they’re gonna be thinking, “Yeah, you understand me, I’m not gonna need to look for another job elsewhere to get these critical health care services that I need, because you’ve invested in me.
0:19:46.8 WB: There are so many questions, just came to my mind listening to your answer there, but one area that I was thinking about is from a legal ramifications perspective, we can all identify, I guess, the minimum requirements in some countries, I believe, there’s even legal ramifications there for cooperations that they have to take accountable and responsibility measures to ensure that they’re taking mental health, etcetera, into consideration. How would I find that now? So where would I go to understand that. Do I go to the labor law section. Is there a specific health care section where I have to look at or what?
0:20:33.1 BC: Yeah, so you go to your least favorite person, the attorney. If you’re a corporation that really, maybe you’re on the border line between what you think you might need some more guidance on this, absolutely recommend consulting an attorney who is familiar with employment and labor laws and just health insurance in general, that really they can help you understand those labor laws and what’s gonna apply for the benefits, but there’s a lot of information that you can obtain yourself without going to the least favorite attorney, and the way that you could do that, right? Is Google. You can really Google or otherwise search on the internet and say healthcare laws or healthcare insurance requirements for startup company in XYZ jurisdiction, and that will start to filter the results down for you.
0:21:24.4 BC: And when you’re looking at those results, the best thing is really to look at those reputable sources, so look for things that might be put out by your government agencies, because that’s gonna have the latest and most up-to-date information for you, oftentimes it’s gonna be an agency that’s related to employment labor laws or health insurance, those are gonna be the three agencies to really look for in whatever jurisdiction you’re in.
0:21:50.7 BC: If you have an HR person in your corporation, they should be pretty familiar with the benefits that are needed to be offered there, and then make sure too… Depending on what jurisdiction you’re in. For example, the United States, we not only have a huge federal legal system, but we also have individual state legal systems, and so the requirements for things that you have to do from a healthcare perspective for employees can differ state by state, and that can be a bit challenging, whenever you think about, oh, I have employees that are located in 10 different states. Even though my company might be located in New York, my employees are remote, they’re in California and Illinois, in Texas, understanding that labyrinth of laws, that’s when I would pull in somebody who is experienced in that legal field and really ask them and make sure… So that really comes into play more with the remote corporations or corporations that are so large, they’re operating in multiple jurisdictions.
0:22:47.7 BC: And same principle applies if you’re a corporation, like let’s say you’re a Corporation located in India, but you’re working with employees who might be located in Europe, or the United States, really understanding this cross-jurisdictional requirements that I would recommend legal advice for. If you’re just a startup company, you’re really looking to see what’s the minimum that I have to do? I don’t wanna be out of compliance, I wanna be in compliance, really look at those kind of government organizations in your jurisdiction.
0:23:16.9 WB: And as a general rule, or is there a general rule of thumb that says you should be monitoring this every three months or every six months for legislative change is there any guidance like that?
0:23:30.9 BC: Yeah, so the thing about legislation is it moves slowly, which is both a positive and a negative. And so usually people are updating or looking for new updates about once a year, just as kind of a general rule of thumb or whenever they get notified, usually you’ll find it in mainstream news, I always set up alerts for news that comes out on a specific topic, you can set up those alerts and just get notified to make sure you’re keeping abreast of when new legislation might go into effect, but it moves pretty slowly and in the US, for example, we have a lengthy administrative law process.
0:24:10.0 BC: So there might instances where a proposed rule comes down and, okay, it’s not final yet, but maybe I as a corporation, wanna be notified about that and understand that because I have a chance to submit comments and get my voice heard, if there’s something in that proposed law that I don’t like or that I don’t think is gonna work for my corporation, so I like to be notified just kind of things that are on the horizon.
0:24:31.8 BC: But not only because I can comment, I can kinda get an early sense of what that might look like, but also because I can start planning, if I know that we’re gonna see a shift now in requirements and I am nowhere near ready, I can at least start to build the foundation that I need, rather than waiting for the law to get passed and say, “Oh, I gotta put that entire infrastructure in place in 60 days.” So I recommend the email notifications and really doing a more in-depth search, at least once a year, I have some companies that I work with who just kind of have a lawyer on retainer, and if there’s any updates in the law, they say lawyer, that’s your responsibility, you notify me, and so they can kind of outsource that as well.
0:25:14.7 WB: Yeah, great advice. But you mentioned also about age demographics a little bit earlier. I just wanna circle back to that. Is there a real distinction between expectations between the different age brackets when it comes to health care provision or expectation?
0:25:34.4 BC: There is. And we’ve really started to see this with the Gen Z population, to be honest, there’s much more of a push for healthcare services that they think they’re entitled to per se. And so they have different mental health needs than somebody who might be a Baby Boomer or an elderly population. And so there are different healthcare services that need to be provided depending on the age of the workforce, what we’re seeing now across the globe is that the workforce is increasing in age, and that means that we need to now pivot to solutions like longevity care or more chronic care conditions and providing resources and health assistance for that, because our population is aging.
0:26:21.8 BC: At the same time, we have Gen Z, and I don’t know what the one after Gen Z is called. But they’re coming on to the workforce sometimes with a bit more self-entitlement to the provisions that they want, there’s been research that shows they think they’re entitled to things like promotions faster. They’ve also grown up in a world that has social media and that technology, so they’re much more adept to kind of these digital health solutions, and I think much more receptive to using those digital health solutions as a first line in healthcare, whereas per se, the ageing population didn’t grow up with Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram.
0:27:02.1 BC: And so it can be a bit more difficult for them to use or want to trust those digital health solutions as a first line of defense. So I think that’s something that could be a bit tricky, and especially as your workforce is growing, but you have different age groups and different needs within those age groups, it’s definitely something that larger corporations need to be thinking about to give the employee workforce the right solutions.
0:27:26.8 WB: I’m curious, what’s the potential exposure for a company who embraces a new digital health technology that somehow doesn’t work or provides inaccurate information or guidance, or even direction, how do we protect against that?
0:27:46.8 BC: Phenomenal question, and I think it’s one that is very relevant today. Because depending on where you’re located and the laws surrounding the digital health technology and what they have to prove in terms of safety or accuracy, we have a wide range of devices on the market today that vary substantially in accuracy and safety and usability. For instance, we had Cerebral in the US, which was a digital Mental Health startup, and they boomed to a unicorn status, meaning over a billion dollar valuation, so quickly they were conducting with patients, very, very popular mental health solution. Come to find out, they’ve got three separate federal government investigations going on right now, their prescribing practices are coming under fire because they weren’t really taking into account patients’ prior histories, they were over-prescribing medications, things like that.
0:28:42.0 BC: And now we have a problem, and that’s not unique to the United States, or that’s not unique to Cerebral, I am not picking on them. But those are the inherent risks that we have in all of these digital health solutions. And as an employer in a corporation, how do you know? How do you know that this particular app or digital solution that you wanna use for your employee base has been vetted, that it’s accurate, that it’s gonna safeguard patient data, because that’s another huge issue across the globe.
0:29:10.5 BC: That can be very hard, especially because we live in a world where the algorithmic predictions and the different algorithms and coding for the devices are considered proprietary. So you can’t really get in and see, oh yeah, you know what, that one’s using some inaccurate data to make these algorithmic predictions that’s not gonna be good for my employee base. The recommendations that I have are, do research before you add a digital health solution to your health plan as a corporation, study it, vet it, see what clinicians are saying about it.
0:29:45.6 BC: There’s often times a big gap between clinicians and tech founders, and a lot of people don’t understand that a lot of these digital health devices have come on the market without any backing or medical literature or support from the scientific and medical communities. So make sure that you are choosing an app or a solution that has that backing, it’s got a medical board or it has some really deep, substantial involvement by a clinician.
0:30:15.8 BC: In addition to that, I would say, really make sure that you’re looking at their privacy policies or their privacy practices, because that’s where a lot of apps are getting into trouble right now, a lot of digital solutions are selling data downstream that can make patients and your employee base feel like they’ve had a violation of their trust. See what other corporations out there are using, how that has worked for them in the past, if they’ve had any issues, ultimately the responsibility for the accuracy of the device and the data that’s being held by that device, resides with that device’s founding team, that company, but it can, even though you might not be legally liable, let’s say as a corporation, if one of your solutions doesn’t pan out, it can still impact employee trust and you as an employer for the solutions that you’ve selected for your employee base, so doing that upfront research, see if you can find medical literature supporting at least the underlying basis or calculations that the app is making and really really kind of vet and compare.
0:31:16.3 BC: What we’re starting to see too is think tanks and organizations doing some of that work for us, thankfully. So there have been surveys, Surfshark for instance, has done quite a few where they’re comparing the top 20 apps in XYZ field or which apps are most data hungry. So take a look at those. I anticipate we’re gonna see some increased surveys and studies like that in the future too.
0:31:42.3 WB: That leads on to another question though that I was thinking through, was I can imagine with the speed of change and the rapid developments in technology within the healthcare industry, there must be a bottleneck somewhere in getting that technology to work. Now, based on what you just said, that’s possibly a good thing because it means longer to vet and to really ensure that what’s being released is of the right quality, but on the other side, if you’re somebody who is suffering with chronic or whatever form of illness and you know that there’s a technology or a health product medicine coming, the frustration must be incredible with any regulation delay. So I’m just wondering how much of an issue do you see that being with the regulations?
0:32:34.3 BC: Yeah, there are absolutely bottlenecks, and as you mentioned, a lot of that happens at the regulatory level because of the restrictions and the requirements that a lot of governments have put into place to bring these new products to market, now obviously that’s gonna depend which jurisdiction you’re in? How heavy-handed are those regulations, but for instance, in the US, what you will see is things like your wearables or your apps, those slide through pretty quickly, because they have a level of enforcement discretion because they’re not gonna be something that’s implanted into your body or anything that’s being used to provide a life-saving medical care.
0:33:13.5 BC: So they’re “low risk”, and so they’re able to slide by without significant regulatory oversight. Now, the downside to that is that we get devices that have been proven inaccurate, we have huge inaccuracy problems, they’re not really helping women or you know, consumers who are using these products, and there’s no way for consumers to really tell or vet that. On the other end though, and this is particularly true when we think about those devices that we do actually have a substantial need for, something that’s not just, “Oh yeah, I’m inputting my data, or I am accessing educational information.”
0:33:48.7 BC: These could be things like life-saving drugs, medical devices that could really help improve your life, your well-being, those typically get bottlenecked because they have to show that they’re safe or they’re effective or they’re gonna work as they are intended, and because of that, bringing that product to life, you have that huge research and development phase, which I’ll come back to… But once you’ve got that product, you’ve gotta test it, you’ve gotta test it in multiple different ways, times, people, animals, all of that to prove that it’s safe and effective, that can take years, and that’s kind of a slow-down, not only in terms of time, but in money, because it costs a lot of money to go through that regulatory approval process, and if you’re a company who wants to offer that product in multiple jurisdictions across the world, okay, that’s great, you just got it approved in the US, but what’s the approval process in China or India to get those products to life there? Oh, it’s different.
0:35:00.4 BC: Okay, now I gotta go and do this separate approval process, so regulatory hurdles can absolutely be a bottleneck, money can be a bottleneck, and then even before that, there’s gotta be a business case for bringing that product to life, and that I think is where we don’t see innovation in places, it should be. Women’s health is one great example because what is the business case for Women’s Health Research and Women’s Health Innovation? That’s something that a lot of companies don’t understand yet, and so they’re not willing to put the upfront research and development money into bringing those products to life, and that’s even before you get to the regulatory hurdles in that pathway.
0:35:32.3 BC: So I think showing a return on investment showing that it’s worthwhile putting millions of dollars into bringing this product to life, that’s kind of the first hurdle, then you have the regulatory pathways that is the second hurdle, then you have kind of the expansion and scalability as kind of that third hurdle.
0:35:49.4 WB: It’s such a huge topic. Fascinating topic. I read somewhere on your site that you are about to release a new legal platform. Is that correct.
0:36:00.7 BC: That’s right, yes. We’re actually launching in June, it’ll be the FemInnovation platform, and it’s really designed with four prongs, right? The first is having that legal and business consulting for those start-up companies who do wanna enter this space and revolutionize digital health. The second is, and we haven’t talked a lot about this, but the kind of political advocacy and thought leadership and pushing to change the regulatory landscape so that maybe we could get some products through faster as an example, third is kind of bridging that tech-clinician gap I was talking about, and getting more clinicians in medical research involved with the tech founders so that physicians can actually use the data that comes out of these digital solutions that are proliferating across the world, and then the fourth is just kind of general public education, because health care isn’t something we necessarily talk openly about, especially when you think about women’s healthcare that has really been relegated to the private spaces for so long, and so we’re trying to change that by doing advocacy and educational campaigns.
0:37:06.6 WB: When does that become available?
0:37:08.9 BC: It starts on June 1st, so it’s very close… Very excited for it.
0:37:13.1 WB: How do people find out about it or where do they find it?
0:37:18.0 BC: So they can go to www.fem F-E-M innovation.com. That’s where our platform will live, and then there’ll be information there about getting more involved, whether you’re a founder, whether you’re just somebody who’s interested in digital health or women’s health, we’ll have a community that you can join and really get access to educational materials, webinars, coaching sessions, that type of thing as well.
0:37:41.3 BC: We also offer a “Femtech” or digital health school, both for companies interested in women’s health and then companies that are just digital health in general. How do you build your products legally? How do you scale them? What does it look like if you want to enter the US market from India or from Europe? So we walk you through all of that. I myself, I’m very active on LinkedIn, so you can find me on linkedIn.com/in/bethanycorbin, and then like a savvy tech grandma, I am also getting into Instagram, very slowly, very painfully. But you can find me @femtechlawyer.
0:38:19.5 WB: Fantastic, you’re nowhere near as much a grandma as I am a grandpa.
0:38:27.2 BC: Given that I grew up with these social medias, you would think I’d be a little bit better, but getting there.
0:38:31.8 WB: That’s fantastic. And I look forward to seeing the release of that and I’m sure I will find my way to that site and have a look around, and I’ll probably send you some questions.
0:38:46.5 BC: I love it.
0:38:46.7 WB: I hope it’s extremely successful. I always like to ask our guests to share a parting wisdom in relation to your area of expertise, so is there anything you would say to our listener base, executive talents, leaders by another name in this field, like what should we be thinking about right at the moment?
0:39:06.1 BC: One of the things that I would absolutely, say is, we have to keep innovating and we have to keep being open to the new solutions that come on the market regardless of the past and painful experiences that we’ve had with other digital health technologies because we’re constantly evolving. And so what the market looks like today, even though certain digital health fields may look saturated, they’re only saturated at the level because we haven’t thought harder about how to innovate better in those areas. And so I fully believe that there are better technological solutions out there that we haven’t thought of yet, and being open to including those in your platform and taking a broad look at what your employees need, especially at the different stages of their lives, that’s gonna be crucial to making sure that you stay competitive in the long term with employee retention.
0:39:58.0 BC: So I’m really excited for where the future of digital health goes from here. There’s been a lot of kind of doom and gloom talk, we’re seeing a downturn in digital health funding right now, but I think the more that we as consumers and as corporations continue to demand innovative solutions, the more our voices will be heard and we will actually see higher levels of innovation than we’re seeing right now.
0:40:24.2 WB: Bethany Corbin you’re a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the area of health in general, but the legal aspects of it, as well as the digital technology and it’s a really interesting conversation. And it’s fantastic to connect with you, and I’m sure our listener base will have got a lot from our conversation. So please, if you’re listening to this and you have any inquiries, please reach out to Bethany, and I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to address any of your questions. Bethany thank you for being on the ET Project. Wonderful to…
0:40:58.6 BC: Thank you so much for having me.
0:41:05.4 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, e-books, webinars and blogs at coachingforcompanies.com.