Why I chose to be in Health Tech.
Patient Success Stories
I’ve talked quite a bit about my career story and my journey into product management over the past couple years. However, I’ve never quite shared the why behind making the constant choice to stay in a challenging, slow but unceasingly inspiring field of health tech.
A lot of what I share here are my personal opinions — things I’ve learned over the years from experience, engagements with patients and providers, active and passive.
Living in the heart of “tech” as we all know it in the Silicon Valley, it’s always been an interesting experience talking about what I do.
Throwing it back to my first job at a medical devices company (which was also a startup at the time), it was a strange experience explaining what the company does,
followed by what I did at the company to my friends and former classmates — most of whom worked at big tech (or “FAANG” as it’s commonly known) or other widely known consumer tech companies. I would be met with responses ranging from “oh that sounds cool” to “hmm (I thought she graduated from an ivy league university — what brought her here?!)”.
The latter was mostly from my not-so-well-meaning Desi acquaintances. More importantly, when I transitioned to a product role at the startup (which by then had gone public) working on consumer facing products like mobile apps & portals, it was all the more confusing, internally, to determine if I should continue down this path of working in digital health given some of its challenges or chase the more traditional well-known B2C product management path at some of the companies that pioneered it.
I think I’ve talked through some of the challenging aspects of health tech in other talks & articles, so instead, I’m going to focus this one on what’s great about it and what keeps me here.
Patient Success Stories
This has to be the biggest motivator that there is to being in health tech. Yes, we all know technology (when done right & ethically) has the power to change lives.
But how about actually save them? From a medical device that helped a seemingly healthy patient detect the presence of an asymptomatic arrhythmia and saving him from stroke, to a smartwatch that saved a patient from a second heart attack by motivating him to exercise everyday, technologies in healthcare directly impact lives.
And it’s a million times more rewarding when you get to hear it right from the patients themselves and it beats any 5-star review or a X-million viewership, hands down.
Never-Ending Learning Opportunities
Health tech is often at the crux of technology, industry & clinical, and this allows for immense learning opportunity within each vertical. Of course, you could argue that at least the first two may be true for most tech jobs. But I think what I find the most interesting is the clinical piece.
With all of my jobs in health tech, I’ve spent the first few weeks (at the very least) reading papers and doing research on the clinical field to understand the disease, the patient and provider journey and current interventions. Having cultivated an interest in biology from early on, I particularly look forward to having the continued opportunity to extend my learning into my work as well.
Besides clinical, there’s so much to learn about current healthcare systems, the medical reimbursement process, and while you’ll quickly understand why it’s broken, you’ll also realize there’s never-ending potential for change!
The tech world is a well connected one, but the health tech world is much smaller and more tightly knit. What makes networking in this industry great is that everyone’s connected by the same mission — to save lives, everyone’s going through similar challenges, and most importantly, people who work in healthcare are highly compassionate.
While I’m definitely not generalizing to say that all other tech companies are competitive and cut-throat, I can surely say that working in the health tech industry has been a very positive experience networking wise.
There’s a slice of the pie for everyone, there’s tremendous collaboration and learning from one another and there’s enough and more work to do for every player in this industry.
The increased relevance in this new world
Healthcare is one of those industries that is in a certain sense, indestructible. You can’t possibly imagine someone not needing access to healthcare, and if nothing else, the pandemic has proven this theory.
The pandemic has also created a paradigm shift in health tech adoption — from the surge in telehealth to virtual monitoring. Given the load on traditional healthcare methods, technology has tremendous potential to disrupt this industry and transformation is here to stay.
While there are possibly more reasons in the pro-health tech camp, I always come back to these 3 as my top reasons for working in this industry.
I’m not going to lie, I have found myself swaying back and forth and having the feeling of FOMO of what it may be like to work outside of healthcare, and despite having opportunities to do so, I’ve felt strongly wanting to stick to my ground and what motivates me best!
Keep in mind, working in health tech also absolutely means designing great quality products and services keeping users (patients, providers, payers, etc) in the forefront (Albeit some methods of product development may be new to this highly regulated industry).
But it’s the diversity of opportunities and challenges, along with the amazing people who help shape this industry, that make it worth every while!