The Mix Tape: Ep. 1 — What’s Next in DTx: A Discussion on the Digital Evolution of Healthcare

Season 3 of The Mix Tape is here! As the world becomes increasingly online, the digital therapeutics industry continues to innovate. Mix Talent's Paul Sinclair catches up with two experts in the field: Andy Molnar and Owen McCarthy. Molnar is the CEO of the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, where McCarthy sits on the Board of Directors. Additionally, McCarthy is the president and cofounder of MedRhythms, a company that leverages the power of music and technology to redefine what's possible in brain health.

Transcription

Unison:

Welcome to the Mix Tape.

Valerie McCandlish:

I’m Valerie.

Natalie Taylor:

And I’m Natalie. Welcome back to season three of the Mix Tape. We are so excited to be back recording in the studio. And we have a lot of exciting things coming up.

Valerie McCandlish:

We know that you’ve just been waiting on the edge of your seat for season three to drop because you loved season two so much. I feel like we just got done recording last season yesterday.

Natalie Taylor:

I do too.

Valerie McCandlish:

But somehow, we’re already in September. So many fun updates, both personally and professionally. But first of all, we’ve got a married woman in the house, people.

Natalie Taylor:

We do. I did get married over the summer, during the break between season two and season three. And that was incredible. And Val is up next. She’ll be getting married in December, so by the next season we’ll have another big life update.

Valerie McCandlish:

I know. So exciting. And then, at Mix, we just turned four years old on August 1st. We loved celebrating that with all of our teammates. We just got a really cool recognition from a publication here in Columbus, from Columbus Business First. We were nominated as one of the regions Fast 50, fastest growing companies in Columbus, Ohio. That’s a really cool recognition for us. It’s the first year that we’re actually eligible for that and has just been a really cool way to celebrate how quickly we’ve been able to grow and be successful here. And what else is new?

Natalie Taylor:

Last season, when we last gave you guys a business update, we had just reached a hundred employees at Mix. And we’ve been continuing to grow so much over these past four months. So, we’re probably at about maybe over 120 now.

Valerie McCandlish:

I know. I feel like this time next year we’re going to be a totally different company.

Natalie Taylor:

It’s going to be crazy.

Valerie McCandlish:

Just massive.

Natalie Taylor:

But one of those teams that’s been growing rapidly is our digital therapeutic and med tech teams. And we have the leader of that team joining us today on the podcast, Paul Sinclair. He is going to be joined by Andy Molnar, who is the CEO of the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, and Owen McCarthy, who is the chair of the Board of Directors of the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, as well as the President and Co-founder of MedRhythms.

Valerie McCandlish:

Mix Talent actually just recently became a member of the Digital Therapeutics Alliance as a talent acquisition partner. And since last season, I think we can all see just how much bigger the Digital Therapeutics and MedTech space is continuing to be. So, we’re excited to learn more from these experts on this space. And with that, we’ll turn it over to Owen, Andy, and Paul.

Paul Sinclair:

All right, guys. Well, Paul Sinclair here. I am leading the Med Tech and Digital Therapeutics team at Mix Talent. I’ve got a couple guests on with me today. I’ve got Andy Molnar from the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, and Owen McCarthy from MedRhythms. How’s it going guys?

Andy Molnar:

Going great.

Owen McCarthy:

Great.

Andy Molnar:

How are you?

Paul Sinclair:

Yeah, good. Just another busy day in the world of recruitment. I know the digital therapeutics industry is pretty busy as well. You guys having a good week?

Owen McCarthy:

I’m glad to see that you’re busy, because when you’re busy that means we’re doing well as an industry, so Paul, appreciate that.

Andy Molnar:

Right.

Paul Sinclair:

Yeah. Quick intro about myself. I’ve really been, the last two years, building a team of specialist recruitment consultants that basically eat, sleep, and breathe digital therapeutics. It’s such a fast-growing, new, emerging market. Everyone’s still wrapping their heads around what digital therapeutics are. There’s some skeptics in the market, “Do these software products actually treat these therapies?” The amount of money that’s getting invested into this space is insane. I think it’s 56 billion projected market value in a couple years, which is pretty crazy.

Paul Sinclair:

It’s definitely been exciting recruiting and being involved in this space and this community. The goal for my team is really to become the sole agency to support the community of DTx companies across the world. One of the big things that I was able to do was actually get involved with the Digital Therapeutics Alliance. Andy here is running the show over there. Do you want to do a quick intro, Andy, and then maybe talk about the program and the community there?

Andy Molnar:

Sure, yeah, sounds great. Andy Molnar, CEO of Digital Therapeutics Alliance. I’ll start off by, I know I’m not supposed to interview you, Paul, but I would like to hear, at some point, it’s very interesting on how you find people for this industry, because it is so unique. If you come out of big pharma, if you come out of med device or med tech, if you come out of specialty, it’s almost like a mix of all of those things, plus it’s completely new.

Andy Molnar:

As we look for people with talent and look for people in this industry, especially leading the trade organization, I am actually really curious to hear how you go about finding that right brain and that right personality that can manage in a startup in such a unique environment.

Paul Sinclair:

Yeah. It’s definitely challenging. I’ll tell you that. It’s definitely hard but-

Andy Molnar:

All that being said, I started at Pear Therapeutics about four and a half years ago. I came in to focus on market access and payer data strategy. The first question I asked was, “How do you e-prescribe an app?” At that time, nobody really knew. There was really all these infrastructure pieces. I went to NCPDP with some of my colleagues from Achilles Interactive, and we started to figure it out with the people that manage e-prescribe. From there, we also need to kick off government affairs work, which I know we’re going to talk about later because legislation on the Hill is necessary for Medicare and Medicaid coverage.

Andy Molnar:

I realized, after a bit of time, that I really cared about the plumbing and mechanics of this industry a little bit more than one individual product. I think Owen can vouch for me on that one, because I was talking to them way before I even came in to be the CEO of the Digital Therapeutics Alliance. With the Alliance itself, we are really focused on creating that … We want people to be able to look at the clinical data of these products and make coverage determinations.

Andy Molnar:

We don’t want to get caught up in, “Well, how will this fit into us as an insurance company?” Or, “How can a doctor prescribe this?” Or, “How does it get in the hands of patients?” The Digital Therapeutics Alliance is working on breaking down all those barriers so somebody like Owen can just say, “Look, this product works. Don’t worry about the rest of it. Cover us because it’s awesome.” With that, I think I’ll hand it over to Owen for an intro.

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah, no, I will say that Andy is definitely, he is one of the world’s leaders in the plumbing of digital therapeutics, in addition to the vision from the DTA, but if you ever want to talk about e-prescribing, go to that guy. He’s the guy.

Owen McCarthy:

Owen McCarthy. I’ve got two hats here. First hat is a co-founder and president of MedRhythms. At MedRhythms, we build digital therapeutics to help people improve walking following a range of neurologic injury diseases using the neuroscience of how you can use rhythm and music to drive auditory motor changes in the brain.

Owen McCarthy:

Company spun out of Spaulding Rehab in Boston, where my co-founder was taking the science of rhythm to help people improve walking, live in a hospital, manually doing it and applying it. Was getting great results, but there was not many people like him in the world, say 250 out there and trying to make this.

Andy Molnar:

Yeah. He’s like a board certified music therapist, who’s one of 350 or something. Yeah.

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah, with a neurologic music therapy … Yeah. A neurologic music therapy focus with a fellowship on it, so there’s this narrow focus. We said, we really got into digital therapeutics around asking the question of like, “Well, how do you take Brian and reach more people? We can’t clone him,” and so we thought like, “Oh, we can build into an algorithm his clinical thinking and launch these products in-home, as prescription, with rigorous evidence, focused on individual conditions.”

Owen McCarthy:

Chronic stroke is the first one that in our pipeline and is the furthest advanced. We have a partnership in multiple sclerosis with Biogen, and we have a whole host of neuro injury disease products coming behind it. That’s a little bit about me and into MedRhythms. Then, other hat is I volunteer and spend some time at the industry level as the chair of the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, and so Andy and I spend a lot of time together there. He has really turned the industry trade group and taken it to the next level. We’ve been excited to have him there in the last year. He’s been there for a year.

Paul Sinclair:

Awesome, yeah. Thanks for the intros there, guys.

Andy Molnar:

I was going to say, Paul, technically, Owen’s my boss as well, so if I’m not doing well, give me a heads-up.

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah, I’m just texting Andy, like, “Maybe you should have phrased that differently during this podcast.” If he’s looking at his phone, it’s my fault.

Paul Sinclair:

Oh, man. Owen, how are things progressing at MedRhythms? I know you’ve been moving quite a long. We’ve helped you out a bit finding some senior talent. How is the process going? It’s difficult navigating such a new industry where there’s not necessarily a playbook, a pharmaceutical playbook that everyone goes by. This is totally different, so you’re creating a new playbook basically, right? It’s been quite challenging, right?

Owen McCarthy:

Yes and no. Obviously, on the cutting edge, and innovators, and building into a new industry there is a lot of de novo creation of things, and we actually find that fun. This is why we do it, because in the wake of that work is where you can make a real difference on patients because you can serve more unmet needs, you can do things differently, you could do medicine different than ever before, and so we get excited about that.

Owen McCarthy:

Then at MedRhythms as we think about navigating that, while there’s not a perfect playbook, there’s healthcare first principles of certain things. There is things, evidence you need to gather to get anything approved by the FDA. They have shown they’ll approve stuff where it’s a medical device and they have suggested, generated evidence strategy how you would think about a normal medical device or therapeutic, so there’s playbooks there.

Owen McCarthy:

In insurance world, there is some structural issues that we’ll talk about, but as you think about how to build a business model and your different indications, you need to walk back from like, “Well, who do you think’s going to pay? Who’s going to care? And why they’re going to care,” and all of these things to put together a plan to get here. Do we have all the details along the way? No, but we have a North Star that we’re aiming at that seems sound based on healthcare first principles, and then we just need Andy to pass this bill. No, I’m kidding. Yeah, no, there’s other ways to do it, but that seem sound, that can get us there.

Owen McCarthy:

It’s challenging, but I think that’s the fun of it. As we think about talent, bringing them in, I know we talk about that a lot, Paul. I want the people that want to be on the front of the boat, and looking at the wave, and say, “Wow, I love cutting through this wave. There’s some good things on the other side.” Because those are the people that are going to fight through the adversity, and we’re excited about that.

Paul Sinclair:

Yeah, they’ve all got to be really mission-driven, and really looking at the end goal here, which is ultimately improving patient lives. Awesome. Then Owen, MedRhythm’s just one of the members at the Digital Therapeutics Alliance. Andy, I think you’ve grown quite a lot over there. What is it, up to 90 members right now, or is that right?

Andy Molnar:

We actually just announced today that we hit, we passed 100.

Paul Sinclair:

Oh, nice. Congrats.

Andy Molnar:

Yeah, thank you.

Paul Sinclair:

And I think I also-

Owen McCarthy:

Andy, how many was it last year at this time? Sorry to jump in, but last year at this time, it was what? Like …

Andy Molnar:

45-

Owen McCarthy:

40?

Andy Molnar:

… I think. Yeah, 40. Somewhere around there.

Owen McCarthy:

Doubled.

Andy Molnar:

Yeah, doubled.

Owen McCarthy:

Doubled in a year. That’s a good growth rate.

Paul Sinclair:

You’ve seen a lot of new companies starting, new products being introduced. What are you seeing the most? The majority of the numbers are startup digital therapeutics companies working with one or two, maybe, products, right?

Andy Molnar:

Yeah, yeah, but it’s a mix. It’s a mix of pharma, who’s interested in what’s going on, people who want to follow the legislation. We are international, so we have a pretty big presence in Europe and Asia Pacific. It’s probably about, I think we announced today, like 45 to 50% U.S., but that means that we have South America, Canada, Europe, and Asia Pacific also is a really big piece of what we’re working on.

Andy Molnar:

Everybody’s struggling around the world with the same exact issues of how to get these products in front of patients, how do different governments regulate them? Because the FDA, for what it’s worth, knows how to regulate software as a medical device. Some countries are following that or still figuring it out.

Andy Molnar:

Then, of course, one of the things, I think, this is a good point that Owen brought up with the doubling in size was that one of our key pillars is community building, and so we said last year, it has to be everybody that cares about this. The industry needs to come together and the Digital Therapeutics Alliance is where that should happen, particularly, and that’s when we also started the Resource Partner program, Paul, which of course, you guys have just become a part of. I’m happy to go into that whenever you want.

Paul Sinclair:

Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, yeah. The resource partners are really there to help guide. There’s legal, there’s regulatory, there’s now HR and talent acquisition, so it’s definitely a community where everyone’s getting together and supporting each other, and to follow the mission, right?

Andy Molnar:

Right.

Paul Sinclair:

Owen, what were you saying there?

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah, no, I think an interesting thing is if you go to the DTA website and you look at the logos of the members, and you think about the question that Andy asked you in the beginning about like, where do you find talent from? Well, that’s a good question if you look at that, because you’ve got pharma, you’ve got small digital therapeutics companies, you’ve got medical device companies, and then you’ve got, I don’t know, Google, Apple. Those folks all coalesce in the memberships.

Owen McCarthy:

They all look at the industry and say, “Oh, interesting. That’s the next wave of how healthcare gets delivered. We have some background that believes we can play there some way, shape, or form,” and at that convergence is where really good’s going to be. I imagine when you think about talent, Paul, you’re looking at those intersection points to try to find people for the industry.

Paul Sinclair:

Yeah, you have to find unique backgrounds. Maybe a mixture of software as a medical device, or even combination products. It always helps to have some kind of a technical background or technical experience.

Paul Sinclair:

It really depends on the role too. Like a head of engineering is obviously going to need a lot more software engineering experience, stuff like that, product management. Those can be more broad, but if you’re looking for a regulatory affairs person, they’re going to need to know the ins and outs of different submissions, and guiding stuff through the regulatory process. That could be a mixture of pharmaceutical, med device, whatever, so it’s definitely unique.

Paul Sinclair:

You have to look at the company and the product, understand what it is that they’re trying to do, and then look at different angles, and different candidates, and say, “Well, you’ve got a mixture of this and this. Would you be able to do that?” and piece the bits together, basically. It’s challenging. Yeah, it’s challenging but it’s exciting, and people want to be involved with this digital therapeutics space. It’s new, innovative stuff, and you get the excitement levels. They’re really high when I’m talking to candidates.

Andy Molnar:

Yeah. I think probably the other thing to remember, and this is something we focus on, is we’re not just looking at FDA cleared prescription products. It could be that you need someone that knows how to sell into employers, and employer-brokers like Willis Towers Watson, we work with them quite often, are looking for something completely different than like an inpatient or outpatient hospital system or what probably most of what Owen is looking at. Completely different sales cycle, completely different background and understanding of who you need to talk to and what kind of relationships you need to build.

Paul Sinclair:

Yeah, you’ll have- [inaudible 00:15:01]

Owen McCarthy:

That’s a good lane too, Andy. Not to jump around, but the what is a digital therapeutic? I know we have experienced people probably listening to this podcast, but how do you answer that? Because I think everyone has their own preconceived notions, but you as the CEO of the DTA, what do you say when people say that?

Andy Molnar:

Yeah, so simple. Anything clinically validated to treat, manage, or prevent a disease that’s software, delivered through software, so you’re looking at-

Owen McCarthy:

How do you think about …

Andy Molnar:

Yeah, go ahead. No, go ahead.

Owen McCarthy:

Go ahead. No, how do you think about coaching? Is coaching in that bucket, or is that a murky line?

Andy Molnar:

No, so I don’t care if there’s coaching involved, but the delivery mechanism of the intervention for a digital therapeutic has to be through the software. Don’t get me wrong. I think coaching is incredibly important to the whole ecosystem of healthcare. Digital therapeutics is that piece that says, okay, well, like in your case, Brian can’t play music for every single stroke victim.

Andy Molnar:

If you had enough coaches to play music for every stroke victim, I don’t think … That would be pretty hard to find too, so now the intervention is through the software itself, and that’s really what our focus is, but I don’t want to take anything away from if you have a mental health product that lets you get in touch with someone when you need immediate help. That is absolutely necessary as far as healthcare is concerned.

Paul Sinclair:

There’s, obviously, the DTx East conference coming up here soon. I take it you both are speaking there?

Andy Molnar:

Mm-hmm.

Paul Sinclair:

Is there any topics that we can share before your panel? Or Owen, do you even know what you’re talking about yet, or are you still coming up with a few topics to speak about?

Owen McCarthy:

Still working through it, and I actually think that Brian, my co-founder, is standing in for me at this conference and speaking.

Paul Sinclair:

Nice.

Owen McCarthy:

I’m not certain what our topic will be.

Andy Molnar:

Well, I’m going to be focusing a lot on coding, reimbursement, and policy. They have a lot of great guest speakers this year. I think the opening panel is going to include Jason Parent from Point32Health, which is Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts, that when they combined, they became Point32. He’s got great insights. He’s on my panel. On the first panel, they’re going to have another payer. They’re going to have Meg Barron from the American Medical Association speaking. She’s, I think, their VP of innovation.

Andy Molnar:

Then it’s going to go on to a couple of panels. I’m going to lead one specifically on reimbursement pathways. We have a great group in that scenario. Then we’re also, we have some announcements from Digital Therapeutics Alliance. We’re putting out a launch playbook, written, done with ClearView as a resource partner. They specifically did this with digital therapeutics companies for digital therapeutics companies, so it’s probably one of the first launch playbooks out there where you can say, “This has input only from DTx companies,” and it should start to feel a lot less like pharma or med device launches. We’re going to keep working through that.

Andy Molnar:

We also have been working with Komodo to pull some claims data. We’re going to be discussing that in front of everybody, I think, on the third day now. That’s going to be really, really awesome because I think they have covered around 320, 340 million lives. We’re going to look at all the RTM … Or, sorry. Remote therapeutic monitoring and remote patient monitoring codes that have been used so far, which has been a really big piece of providers adopting digital therapeutics. I think I’m going to be on the stage the whole time, Owen, with all that.

Owen McCarthy:

The takeover. We’ll have to shut the mic off for Andy.

Andy Molnar:

Yeah.

Paul Sinclair:

Are there any new trends that you’re seeing as this industry’s growing? I think these conferences are getting bigger and bigger, the East and the West ones, with all the new companies, new products, new therapies. What do you think is the hottest trend that you’ve been seeing in the DTx world?

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah, to me, the biggest trend is they’re starting to shake out different reimbursement pathways. Like Andy mentioned, for monitoring of DTx products or other types of products, there are opportunities, in certain cases, for RTM and RPM codes. There is, state Medicaids have been rapidly thinking about adopting or being able to cover digital therapeutics, and you’ve seen some announcements from Pear along that case.

Owen McCarthy:

There’s the legislature is taking a look at it at the federal level. A lot of work by Andy and the Prescription Digital Therapeutics Coalition and others have got a bill introduced, the Access to Digital Therapeutics Act, which would create a standalone benefit category under Medicare for software products or digital therapeutics products. That, right now, is a big gap if you’re treating and thinking about Medicare patients, and so that’s good movement. There’s good movement where it being included in employers plans.

Owen McCarthy:

I think it’s the trends are everything we’ve talked about for the last three years, starting to come to fruition and starting to be like, oh, we have products that need to be covered, so patients can get their lives changed, and as much as everyone says like, “Well, is there business models? Isn’t there business models?” we’re in the middle of making the cake, so the business models are shaping out. We couldn’t make the cake because we didn’t have the ingredients before. We didn’t have products to commercialize, so we could just theoretically talk about it, but now we’re building Andy a nice birthday cake.

Andy Molnar:

If it ends up being a cookie, that’s okay too. You know?

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah, that’s right. We have to do something for dessert with your affogato, or whatever Andy drinks with …

Paul Sinclair:

Owen, you mentioned earlier your partnership with Biogen. Do you feel a lot of these smaller DTx companies utilizing these strategic partnerships with some of the larger pharmaceutical companies and the companies that have been around for quite a while, is that helping quite a lot, driving all these efforts with policy, and reimbursement, navigating the landscape?

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah. Even to step back from that question, in a new industry where there’s a lot of things you need to do well and bring together, it’s really ripe to do partnerships, because one team could bring one set of expertise. The other team could bring another set of expertise, and instead of building alone, you can go further together. If you think about different types of pharma partnerships, as long as you’re aligned on vision, on where you can go, I think you can have that bring together and go further together type of mentality.

Owen McCarthy:

With Biogen and us, this was a while coming, and a conversation we were working on for a bit, but we looked at, and they said, “Oh, interesting. Your digital therapeutic is something that fits into our mindset of a product that could stand alone. We would like to consider commercialization of that in multiple sclerosis,” which is no surprise that they created the multiple sclerosis drug category, so they know that well. Then we said, “Well, we can bring some of our clinical expertise, our technology expertise, our understanding of the interventions to complement that, and together we could overcome these hurdles,” and so we got really excited about that.

Owen McCarthy:

Others think about pharma partnerships completely differently. They look at them as either helping out with adherence with drugs, or data with drugs, or other reasons for pharma partnerships. I think the clear, the thing that’s the best to keep in mind is, don’t come in thinking you’re talking about a standalone product, when the pharma partner’s talking about they just want data, and think that’s going to work. You have to make sure, upfront, you’re aligned with why you’re doing these things. I think from there, we can go further together.

Paul Sinclair:

Mm-hmm, yeah. That all makes sense. Then, Andy, you mentioned a lot of global members in the DTA, France, and the EU being a big part. Where is there maybe the biggest group of DTx outside the U.S. that you’re seeing? Is it mainly Europe or scattered?

Andy Molnar:

Yeah, we’re seeing it flow U.S., Europe, Asia, India. I think that’s an Owen, jump in if you see something differently. Germany really started paving the way in Europe. Believe it or not, I don’t think you hear as much about it, but the UK has a way to dispense and prescribe apps in about 50 to 60% of their EMRs already. They just don’t really have those reimbursement mechanisms that Germany has put into place and that France has now … I shouldn’t say copied, but they’ve sort of modeled their reimbursement structure off of that.

Andy Molnar:

We just did a partnership with HealthWare, another one of our resource partners, focused in Europe. Our founder, Megan Coder, lives in the UK, and they’re really kicking off that project to coalesce the right people and the right decision-makers to help standardize and move everything forward across Europe. Now, it’s a lot more complex in Asia. To all of us, we’re probably like, “Yeah, no duh.”

Andy Molnar:

For people that aren’t in the healthcare industry and might be listening to this, Europe, they like to follow a pattern with each other and make sense of that. In Asia, it’s very much like each country wants to do their own thing, and so building the relationships over there, we really rely a lot on our members to tell us, okay, who are the big health systems? Who are the players? Who are the decision-makers, key stakeholders, et cetera?

Andy Molnar:

It’s been interesting and keeps it really fun for all of us in the Alliance as we move around different places in the world and figure out how to get these products into the hands of patients. The good news is smartphones are everywhere, so we can still hit different areas, but it’s very complex when you talk about the different healthcare systems in different countries.

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah, and maybe just to jump on there. There is not maybe a day that goes by where I’m talking with someone else in the industry where they’re not asking about like “What’s your German strategy? Are you thinking about this? The DiGA program is interesting. It’s clear ways to get reimbursement. How are you thinking about that?” That is happening a lot, and actually, this is a plug for the DTA, but they’ve done a good job of bringing together some resources, and even some town halls and things around what to expect from DiGA, and I think there’s a lot of … Those type of things in the DTA are at the cutting edge.

Owen McCarthy:

People have been there and we’re at a point in the industry where people still share things. It’s not like top secret, hide it under the rug, like we’re super competitive. It’s like we’re building this together. We’re still sharing things. DiGA in Germany with this temporary and then automatic reimbursement is interesting. France, Fast Track has come up with a lot lately. I don’t know. I mean, it’s live. I’m not sure if it’s operational, so we’ll have to see by the time the podcast comes out if someone’s been through it yet because I know it’s law, but I don’t know if they’ve got it fully set up yet.

Owen McCarthy:

Then, I don’t know. Anecdotally, Andy, I talk to at least a lot of med tech and pharma companies from Japan that are super interested in this space, and so there’s a larger Asia interest, but there seems to be something about the Japanese market that there is some strong interest there. You probably, you know more than I do, Andy, about Asia Pacific.

Andy Molnar:

Well, no, I think that’s fair. I think that you made a great point, which is the fact that we’re all a community right now. Probably in 10, 15 years, people will be competing with each other and it might be a little bit harder, but right now, it’s such a great place to be, to be part of this movement and we all go through it together.

Andy Molnar:

When I was at Pear, I worked with Achilles. I would almost walk over there to their building every other day to work on something together. Nothing top secret. I didn’t know what their product looked like or anything, but when we were talking about e-prescribe, and coding, and reimbursement, we were all hanging out at each other’s workspaces. It was great.

Owen McCarthy:

Everything comes back to e-prescribe, Paul. That’s what you’ve got to understand first.

Paul Sinclair:

Yeah, that’s right.

Andy Molnar:

The other thing I just want to throw out there is the pharma companies too. It’s we’re at this point, we’ve seen pharma have their heyday in really the ’90s, but those point solutions for blockbuster drugs, there’s just not as many of them. A lot of the major issues have been solved, or at least have some sort of solution. What we look at is, you have this rare disease feeling, where if you get diagnosed with cancer, “Well, I don’t just have a drug for cancer. I want something to manage depression,” like Valentis might have, yeah, that whole-person care.

Andy Molnar:

Pharma companies are realizing that they’re getting better results from their drugs if people maintain their weight, if people are in a good mental health state. The interest from pharma, I think, is to really start wrapping around the pill and making it so that the patient has a really nice patient journey for as awful is whatever they just got diagnosed with may be.

Paul Sinclair:

Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yeah, and then going back to talent. The DTx space, it really does closely mirror the traditional life sciences, everything from the R&D, to the product development, regulatory, to quality and commercialization stuff. I’ve definitely seen, it’s all of that, but then there’s more on the tech side as well, software engineers, product managers, data scientists, app developers, all that.

Paul Sinclair:

Owen, your product at MedRhythms is pretty unique because it’s a hardware and software component, so there’s a lot of different moving parts, which means you need a lot of different types of engineers and product people. Obviously, hardware’s different than software. Have you found that been quite challenging, navigating through all the different types of people that you need, rather than just the typical life science process?

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah, a couple of comments there. Just as context for the audience, our product has sensors that go in the shoe. We measure in real time how someone’s walking quality and their cadence and other parameters are. We feed that into a handheld device. We analyze all that data. We prescreen music to understand where the rhythm is and what qualities it has, and then in real time, we use how the rhythm can sync in the brain with the auditory and motor system, and get someone to change their walking. Speed them up, slow them down, add cues and accents for quality, and so in real time, someone’s walking with this loop going on. They may feel like they’re listening to music, but it’s putting them on this real time treatment plan. That’s, as backdrop for the question.

Owen McCarthy:

I am resigned to the fact that when I come up with a wish list of what I would want in a candidate for every role, I’m going to have to cross half of it off because of all these interdisciplinary points. The perfect candidate doesn’t exist for anything, however, there is … You need to find the gene of someone that’s willing to learn and try new things in there. They need to meet our cultural pillars. If we’re going to do regulatory medical device, they probably ought to have some experience there. There’s some nonnegotiables, and that’s how we think about putting it together.

Owen McCarthy:

It is challenging, and I’m resigned to the fact the perfect candidate, on paper, doesn’t exist. However, you put together a team like puzzle pieces, and you shoot a North Star. A lot of people can do some amazing things, even outside of what their resume said they did.

Paul Sinclair:

Yeah, and I’ve definitely noticed that too, working with not just yourself but a handful of other DTx clients. I sometimes recommend like, “Look, you’ve got 10 boxes here. You’re not going to find that.” If you could find someone with seven or eight of the boxes being ticked, and they have the ability to either develop skills to tick the other boxes or someone else on the team can make up and fill in those two spots, it’s really, it’s all about guiding and pair-matching with the team’s strengths and weaknesses. You’re right. With the right people, with the right skillsets, and the right vision, you can get through pretty much anything.

Owen McCarthy:

The interesting thing, this is related but different, but the other day, I realized this is a showcase of how interdisciplinary this is. We have like eight or nine different lawyers we use for different reasons. There’s a whole lineup of people we pull out.

Owen McCarthy:

It’s like, “Oh, the HIPAA privacy lawyer. Oh, by the way, we did a deal with Universal Music Group, so we need a music licensing lawyer.” Or there’s like three different licenses you have to get. You have the regulatory lawyer, the corporate … I could go down, and it’s like kind of ridiculous, but to do something really well that causes no harm, that treats patients in healthcare, that uses technology in a certain way, it’s just what you have to do. You do what you have to do to reach the patients.

Andy Molnar:

I just want to add one thing too, which I’m sure you’ve experienced, Owen, is finding those people that, first of all, you need a lot of self-awareness, but understanding change management and that transition. Because you can go from wearing 15 hats in a five-person company, to having to wear two hats in a 40 or 50-person company in a year. Some people are Series A people. They wear 10 hats and once they have to wear one, they have to leave. It’s just not the right place for them.

Andy Molnar:

Getting those people that understand, “Okay, I’m here for the next year, and when you hit 40 people, I’m gone because I just can’t survive in that type of environment,” and then bringing in more specialized people that can do very specific tasks. I’ve seen culture struggle across the board in the companies as they grow. Some people handle it better than others, but Owen has obviously handled it with aplomb.

Owen McCarthy:

I texted him that. That was one of the things, “Please throw this in.”

Andy Molnar:

It’s not easy. That growing, that constant change is, I think, very complex.

Paul Sinclair:

Yeah, keeping the culture-

Andy Molnar:

I’ll just throw that one out there.

Paul Sinclair:

… going from that strappy, startup environment, to much medium-size organization, remaining the same values and cultures is key to retaining your staff. Mix Talent actually does a really good job in cultural assessments. We have a whole team of PhDs that do workforce psychology, and they build custom assessments based on … Owen, I think Chad did one with you. He asked you about a thousand questions based on what you’re looking for and who you want to be on the team.

Owen McCarthy:

There’s a lot of questions, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Paul Sinclair:

Making sure that everyone’s on the same page from a values standpoint, and background, and everything. It makes a huge difference when you’re growing fast and hiring a ton of people if they’re all on the same level when it comes to cultural assessment.

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah, and to double-click on that, Paul, we have, at MedRhythms, we have three cultural pillars. We actually did an exercise where everyone talked about their lived experience at the company, and what was good and what was bad, distilled the most defining moments into like, okay, this is how you operate as an employee. Then when we’re hiring, we look against the cultural pillars, assess against it, but day one, Brian and I hired everyone.

Owen McCarthy:

Now, as you scale, you have other people that are doing a lot of the heavy lifting. They’re not evaluating against that. It’s sort of like the way in is a lot easier to fix than during the organization because that can get painful, so you’re right. You guys do a good job with your psychology assessments there, and it’s a good thing to focus on. It’s important. This is not a digital therapeutics question. This is a how do you build organizations question, over time.

Andy Molnar:

Mm-hmm. Well, I’m glad you didn’t do a psychology assessment on me, Owen, when you guys brought me in.

Owen McCarthy:

Oh, yeah. I did. This was … Yeah, no, I’m kidding. Yeah, yeah. It’s in your confidential file, Andy, that you’re never going to see. He always is the best dressed guy in the room was part of the assessment.

Paul Sinclair:

Then also, location these days is a big difference over the last couple of years. Especially with COVID, everyone going remote, you’re finding new hubs of tech. Owen, you guys are in Portland. There’s the smaller cities that are getting these hubs of technology and innovation, and Portland’s one of them. Austin, where I am, has obviously blown up over the last couple of years. Have you guys seen a certain area where maybe there’s more DTx in these tech hubs, or is it still scattered?

Owen McCarthy:

My unofficial, unsophisticated analysis is Boston, New England, is where there’s a lot of DTx, but Andy’s throwing his hand up. He’s like, “You’re not thinking about China. You’re not thinking of Japan. What about Germany?” I don’t know if it’s like … The community is remote like companies are remote, so it’s hard to pick up, I think.

Andy Molnar:

I think so too. You see San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Boston is where a lot that emerged in the U.S., but a lot of them are also rolling out of major colleges, and universities, IDNs, things like research hospitals, things like that, so you end up finding that talent all over.

Andy Molnar:

That’s the only reason I put my hand up, Owen, because it’s like, yeah, Boston probably because Harvard, MIT, and a lot of great schools, Boston U are all right there. Silicon Valley because you have all the engineers flock over there because of the major tech hub. I’ve met people from all across the U.S. that are phenomenal, and since we are virtual … Digital Therapeutics Alliance is 100% virtual. I think we have maybe two people that live within 10 miles of each other. Otherwise, we’re across the U.S. and in Europe.

Paul Sinclair:

Yeah.

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Even our team’s half remote, or half largely remote. They’re hybrid.

Paul Sinclair:

Yeah, it’s interesting because typically speaking, you’d normally go for talent, and you look for the hubs in Boston, San Francisco, but now it’s like you find a fantastic candidate in Tennessee, or Utah, or something, totally random. It’s been interesting.

Andy Molnar:

Yeah. We had somebody who wanted us to pay to relocate them and I laughed. Not on purpose. I was just like, “No, you can work from where you’re …” I think they were in Utah or something. I said, “That’s fine. Work from there.” They’re like, “Well, I really wanted to relocate to D.C.,” and I said, “No, no, no, not going to happen.”

Paul Sinclair:

That’s a personal choice.

Andy Molnar:

Yeah. Right, right, exactly, exactly.

Owen McCarthy:

“I want to move to Montana. Will you pay for that?”

Andy Molnar:

Right, yeah. “I need a $10 million chalet in Switzerland, if you don’t mind.”

Paul Sinclair:

Owen, it’s been pretty … I know with a couple of roles we worked with for your searches, being close to Mass, Boston, has been great because you know you can find people that are out of those big hubs, but it’s only what, a couple hour drive up to where you’re located, if you find people north of Boston, right?

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah. Portland, man, A, is the greatest small city in the U.S., so I’ll make that statement right now, so that’s one. Why wouldn’t someone want to come here? Two, if you’re North Shore, it’s an hour and a half to the office. Now with the Orange Line shut down in Boston, it’s worse to get into Boston, so you might as well work in Portland, is basically the two things we say if you’re in the North Shore at least.

Paul Sinclair:

Okay, guys. It looks like we’re going to wrap up here. A few things we wanted to ask our interviewers or interviewees are, what is your favorite song? What’s your favorite interview question to ask candidates or that a candidate has asked you? Owen, I’ll start with you.

Owen McCarthy:

Yeah, so my favorite song, which is verified via Spotify last year and driven by my son, actually, it’s his favorite song right now also is Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen. I think I listen to it like two or three times a night, mostly because of how happy it makes him is why it’s my favorite song, but that’s the favorite song. You can check Spotify later if you need to verify this.

Owen McCarthy:

The favorite interview question is boring, but I find the most substance when I ask why someone left each position that they’ve left. I feel like it’s really telling after a pattern of those.

Paul Sinclair:

That’s actually a really good question. When I’m screening candidates, I always try to figure out their story. It’s like, “Okay. Well, why did you leave there? What skills did you develop here? What made you go here? Did you use those skills to develop new skills in that role?” Then tell the story of how they got in front of you now for this opportunity. That’s a great-

Owen McCarthy:

Exactly, right. That’s the narrative that I’m looking for too, Paul. It’s like, “Give me the journey. Why did you leave?” I won’t tell you what I’m looking for because then they’ll have a bunch of parrots show up at these interviews, so I’m going to leave it there, but that’s my favorite question.

Paul Sinclair:

If they have an amazing question then it’s like it’s great. If it’s wishy-washy, it’s, “Well, all right. Well, we got to look into this.” Andy, how about you, man, favorite song?

Andy Molnar:

I like really, really slow music, and most people that I play music with tell me that they can’t figure out how I don’t fall asleep while I’m driving, and things like that. My all-time favorite song is Mahlar’s Resurrection Symphony. That’s Symphony No. 2, and it just puts me in a very peaceful place. If anyone hasn’t listened to it, it’s phenomenal, if you can stand classical music. If you can’t, don’t even try.

Andy Molnar:

My favorite interview question that I ask everybody is … Because I like to hear stories, and I like to hear stories when times are, potentially, not perfect. I ask people to tell me a specific time where they made a mistake and how they worked through that mistake to either fix it or deal with the situation. I like that there’s been plenty of times you hear somebody say something like, “Well, it was really this other person’s fault, so I just blamed them.” Then I go, “You’re not getting the job.”

Andy Molnar:

You also hear, you get into people’s psyche a little bit to understand how they would work through an issue, and it’s never something that I look at as a trick question. It’s really just more of a cultural thing because in this industry, everybody’s going to mess up.

Paul Sinclair:

Just understanding their thought process on what happened and how you worked around it. That definitely helps better understand what they would do if they made a mistake if they joined your team, right?

Andy Molnar:

Exactly.

Paul Sinclair:

Amazing. Oh, is that the Symphony?

Owen McCarthy:

Is this it, Andy?

Andy Molnar:

Yeah, yeah.

Owen McCarthy:

This is good. It’s really … I would sleep to this.

Andy Molnar:

Yes, yes. Most people would. I work to it.

Paul Sinclair:

Yeah, I could probably work to that.

Owen McCarthy:

Too bad we don’t have the rights to it. We could put it at the beginning of the podcast. We could enter the podcast with Mahler’s if we had the rights to it.

Andy Molnar:

That’s right.

Paul Sinclair:

All right, guys. Well, so we’ll see you at DTx East. I believe Mix Talent’s going to be there with a little meet and greet happy hour near the conference. We’ll send out a couple invites here shortly. We’re looking forward to continuing supporting the DTx community, and the DTA, and all of our clients, and helping them with all the challenges whenever it comes to talent acquisition and HR consulting.

Andy Molnar:

Great.

Paul Sinclair:

Thank you for joining.

Andy Molnar:

Yeah. Thanks for having us.

Speaker 4:

What a pleasure it was to have Paul, Owen, and Andy with us here on the Mix Tape today, and just dropping some knowledge on digital therapeutics and med tech. I just loved everything that they had to say. I think Andy and Owen were so fun.

Speaker 5:

Mm-hmm.

Speaker 4:

I think we definitely need to have them back because I can listen to them talk forever. I thought it was really cool that they were mentioning Brian a little bit, which Brian is Brian Harris, who is the other co-founder of MedRhythms. We had the opportunity to spend some time with him. He was educating the Mix Talent team on what MedRhythms therapies were and the technology. Just in general, it’s really nice to hear how much care there is for the patients and creating some really life-changing therapies for them.

Speaker 5:

Mm-hmm, yeah. Brian joined us virtually for one of our retreats, and just listening to his presentation, everything clicked for me of what digital therapeutics can do for patients and their families. That was remarkable. The before and after videos he showed, it was so cool. I think this episode is really neat to explain that and then tie in the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, and then how Mix adds into that system as well. I think it’s an interesting episode to see how that all mixes together.

Speaker 4:

By the time that this episode airs, it’ll be the DTx East conference, so that’ll be really exciting to have Owen, and Paul, and Andy all there. We’ve got some really cool insights to be heard from Owen and Andy, and in particular that launch playbook. I’m excited to hear what’s to come from that and see all the hard work that was put into it.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. I’m really excited to hear how the conference goes and there’s a lot of exciting things happening with Owen and Andy, so really looking forward to seeing how everything progresses on their end.

Speaker 4:

In true Mix Tape fashion, we have two new songs to add to the Mix Tape podcast playlist and that is Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, a classic and-

Speaker 5:

A literal classic.

Speaker 4:

… adding Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Resurrection to the playlist, and I checked. That is, in fact, on Spotify so-

Speaker 5:

Awesome.

Speaker 4:

… it will be added for everyone’s listening pleasure.

Speaker 5:

Love it.

Speaker 4:

Thank you for being in the mix. We are so excited to be back for season three and we’ll see you next week.

 

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