Health Innovators
Health Innovators

Episode · 2 years ago

Overcoming Innovation Hurdles & High Failure Rate w/Stacie Ruth


For many healthcare innovators, one of the biggest challenges is managing everything that’s required in the commercialization process. There are so many factors competing for priority. it can be extremely daunting and distracting. How do we develop an innovation to solve a problem the right way? What kind of structures and methodologies need to be put in place? What are the most important things to focus on?

In this episode, Aire Health CEO Stacie Ruth shares her transition from commercializing innovations in the corporate world to leading a healthcare startup. She shares insights into how innovators can increase the chances of market success.


3 Things We Learned 

The problem we’re solving is key to successful commercialization

One of the challenges innovators face is getting caught up in solving the problem without really considering if that problem is something the care community is seeking to solve. If the problem is not a priority for your target market, it can be a huge stumbling block even if we have a great solution. 

Successful commercialization is about product
and execution 

Health innovators can’t solely focus on the product and expect to succeed. Commercial success is more strategy development and execution and less about the product. We have to focus on developing clarity around the problem we’re solving, the identity of our brand, the implementation team executing the commercialization, and stakeholder buy-in.

Invest in opportunities for exposure and stakeholder interactions 

It’s important to take time to get involved in innovations and events that increase exposure for our innovations. If we have a clear vision of our ideal business, and we can articulate that vision with a story, we need to start sharing that story. We’ll start getting enough feedback to iterate our strategy and better understand how we can solve the problems in healthcare.

Successful commercialization starts with identifying the problem we’re solving and prioritizing the allocation of resources and capabilities. We can’t try to do everything. Once we have the problem clearly identified and we validate market fit, it’s about building the right implementation team and executing well. We have to align goals, people, resources and the greater market in which we’re playing. To hear more on Stacie Ruth’s perspective on successful commercialization, check out the podcast episode on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or get the full interview video on our website!

Welcome to Coiq, and first ofits kind video program about health innovators, earlier doctors and influencers, and theirstories about writing the roller coaster of healthcare innovation. I'm your host, DrRoxy, founder of Legacy DNA marketing group, and it's time to raise our COIQ. Welcome back to the show, CIQ listeners. On today's episode,I have the pleasure of speaking to Stacy Ruth. She is the CO founderand CEO for air health and I am really excited to have this conversation withher today. For you that are other health innovators in the trenches, Ithink that she's going to have a lot of wisdom and just her experience aboutcommercializing innovation, I think she's going to have a lot of wisdom to sharewith us today. So thank you for joining us, Stacy. Thank youfor having me, Dr Roxy. So you know, what I like todo is just start off, for the people who don't know who you are, just to chair a little bit about your background and what you're doing.So I am so excited. I have never shared my background so much.I have to tell you, I love it. Right you can to puttwenty years into a little sound bite. And I like that. My backgroundbefore starting your health this year was in med device and I have been bothon the commercialization side. I actually carried a bag myself. So the firstjob that I had in healthcare was to sell capital equipment and I did thatin the Tennessee, the Carolinas and Georgia. From there I moved more into leadershiprolls with a sales organization. Then really switch sides and and became moreof a business leader and as a business leader and my time was spent atPhilip's healthcare and as a business leader there I had the opportunity to move allthe way from the ice idea stage of products really in the Med device connectedhell digital propositions all the way through the product development cycle and then responsible forcommercializing those in a profitable way. So that's how I spent my last tenyears. Launched Adventure in Boston, was one of the biggest accomplishments of thelast few years and I'm excited now to be in Orlando with their health.That's great. So I imagine that you had seen the world of healthcare technologyevolved quite a bit over the last ten years. It has evolved quite quicklyand actually it was that that evolution. If you look at tell a healthwhat tell a health a thirty year journey and if feel to people like it'snew, right, and it's because they're seeing now the fruits of all ofthat Labor and the commercialization process, you know, come to fruition. Sure, sure, how I would say that? Of course it's evolved. It's evolvessince one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine when I started reading and withackered you know, in medical sales. But the the reality of it isis that it's a slow noticing of that...

...evolution and then a very fast,you know, way to observe it once it's been commercialized. So I seea lot. Yep. So so let's share a little bit with our audienceabout, you know what, what are you experiencing or what is it likewriting this roller coaster of healthcare invation, because I say it's like the wildwild west. It's just crazy out there. So you know, what is itlike for you? Yes, so you're calling it a roller coaster andcertainly the startup life. It's up, it's down every day and sometimes twicebefore lunch, right. Yeah, yeah, but I always looked at it aslike an ocean and the set of waves that are coming in and whatI always looked to do when we were scoping out the market place, lookingfor what some would call white space or looking for just that little sliver ofmarket opportunity where you could solve a problem that wasn't being solved very well.I tend to watch the ocean come in and I like to see things whenthey're coming up on their crest. Now, so what it like for me atour health is we're really looking at taking a digital technology, if that'snot so digital today, but it's very well established medical technology that has reachedthat crest of maturity and then literally ride the way then with the digital healththeme. That's exciting. It is exciting. That's really exciting. It's like you'resurfing right. Yeah, not a great surfer, I have tried ridingthe wave. So, you know, one of the things that I thinkis so interesting about your story and what you're doing is you know your backgroundin corporate America. You met mentioned HP, you mentioned Phillips, and and soyou know what you're doing is really different. So you know how howis it different for you commercializing technology, innovation within a corporation versus, youknow, being the leader of a emergent startup. Yes, so I liketo think that you're doing the same exact work. Resources available to you arevery different, and I so I'm sort of refusing to take off right thoseyears of business experience. I'm not going to take that out of out ofmy way of working. Sure, I'm not going to take that out ofmy tool kit to understand, you know, what is it like to put processin place? What is it like to follow a methodology? Sure,you know. What is it like to understand if this business can even beprofitable before you spend the first dollar of your investment? No, it's aboutkind of following the rules, if you will, and doing it in sucha way that you know you have all this opportunity ahead and you're applying thelogic and the rules of a bigger business.

So so I think that that's definitelyan advantage that you have maybe two other entrepreneurs that didn't come from sucha maybe more structured background with systems, processes and methodology and kind of thinkingabout that from from the very beginning. Yes, that's great. Yeah,so what are some of the challenges that you think that health innovators face todaywhen they're trying to commercialize and innovation. Well, I think that it's seeingthe problem with literal you have to see the problem literally right and you haveto accept that if a problem is there but it's not recognized by the carecommunity, it's not a problem that you're going to be able to solve veryeasily. And I think one of the challenges is that we get wrapped upin we can solve a problem. Look at this problem, look at howwe solve it. But if the problem is not seen as impactful enough tosolve, that can be a huge stumbling block, even with the most fantasticcommercialization plan ever, or you won't get adoption right. Right, yeah,absolutely. You know, I have that conversation with so many health innovators likeyourself, who really spend years doing a lot of armed twisting. Right,it's like you know I'm going. You have a problem. Don't you seeit? Don't you see it? I see it. You have a problem. Let's solve it and exactly, and either it's just maybe it's not,as it's not a priority for them. It's not it's not expensive enough,it's not causing a big enough pain, you know, kind of like you'retouching on or you know, these organizations can just only focus on so manythings and it's just not one of their top port priorities for the next threeto five years. HMM, you're exactly right, and I would even addto that. So, so my background in corporate America, it is nodifferent on the industry side. Yeah, right, the initiatives come and go. Yep, the commitment to maybe a very well laid plan, maybe yourun out of runway on that plan. Yeah, and so it's very,very similar industry and then the healthcare delivery side. So so I totally respectthat. Yeah, they might be the flavor of the day for a whileagain, the thirty year journey on tell a health, but now we actuallywant that thirty first flavor from you know, we actually want to take a bite. So I do think it is about shifting sand, shifting priorities andunderstanding that you have to have to also shift your value proposition a bit tofollow that problem all the way through. Yeah, yeah, so I talkeda lot about, you know, this failure rate, the the just incrediblehurdle that health innovators have to overcome. You know, statistically right and kindof beat the odds of success and failure.

You know from your perspective, whydo you think some health innovators fail while some succeed? What's going onthere? So I do think that it is a little more about the methodand a little less about, you know, how how wonderful the product might be, and I think that in and in health innovation, I think theteam and the process that team uses to commercialize is as important as what you'recommercializing. So again, once you have that big problem identified and you andyou have a match to that problem, you've confirmed that match, it isreally about the team that's executing it. So the ability to raise enough moneyto get it to market, sure to actually engage with healthcare providers in sucha way that they have credibility and that a healthcare provider doesn't push that downthe priority list. And it's about being able to deliver on the promises thatyou're making consistently to all of your stakeholders. And I think that's a lot toget lined up for a small business. Yeah, yeah, absolutely, it'sa lot. Yeah, it's definitely a lot of alignment between people andgoals. Yeah, absolutely. So. So what advice do you have actually, you know what, what are some keys to success? You know,when we kind of talk about these challenges that innovators face and why some succeedand why some fail, what do you think are some keys of success?So I think that will first of all, innovation can be defined in so manydifferent ways and I think that the way that you define your problem,answering that problem can be defined in many different ways, and the keys tosuccess are to understand, have extreme clarity again, around the problem statement andthe alternatives to solving that problem. HMM. The next thing that I believe in, whether you're running a big business, a small business, you're innovating inhealthcare or even beyond, it's to prioritize. Right. Prioritize really justsimply means make choices. Yeah, and you have to have a really,really strong foundation to how you make those choices and how you implement the choicesthat you've made. So, I know it sounds very simple. It isnot kind of a magic one or fairy ust that you can put on thesituation, but it's really about having some level of commitment to the problem you'resolving and to do that by prioritizing, not to try to do everything.So you know that's so true, stacy, because it's so easy to get distractedby, like you said, the flavor of the day, right,or, you know, this additional problem that we could solve or, youknow, having a pilot company come up...

...with other ideas of things that youcould solve for them, right, or how you can solve it differently.And there's so many things that are competing for your attention as the you know, as the Innovator, and you've got, Gosh, you know, a longlist, right. So how many things are on your list to getdone? Absolutely, and it's really about determining what you aren't, MMM,and and not focusing so much on what you are. Yeah. So atair help, we know we're respiratory care company, right, that's the bigwhat we are, but then we start carving out what we aren't, morewhat we aren't right now. Yeah, and even though it might get youthat first customer more quickly to focus on something that you aren't, in thelong run, again prioritizing and lining up all of those steps in your innovationprocess, then in your commercialization process you'll be much better off for determining whatyou aren't and taking it off the table for people. Yep, so whatare what are some of the decisions that you've made that that you've already kindof started to see some of the fruits of that Labor? So we madea decision pretty early on and we used a very I'll call it a businessschool process, where we did some very fast business case building around respiratory care. M said drug delivery in respiratory care. What are our options? What canwe do pairing this problem and this technology? M We actually came upwith fifteen unique business propositions and put the Warton hat on and we calculated itand we make general determinations and we landed on the top three. We coulddo this, we could be this, we could do this. Okay,and with that that was the very first set of decisions that we made ofthese top three founders, advisors, early team. Which one are we goingto be? Yeah, and what are we not going to be? Andthose were the first decisions. And then from that we engaged people and agencysuch as yours to actually say to us, okay, fantastic, you've chosen thelane that you're going to be in. Now, let's determine if the innovationdoes in fact, you know, lead us to the right problem.Yeah, right solution, the right product market fit. And then how wouldyou commercialize this business plan that you have? So it's really about it's just takingit one step at a time and a little bit of background and,you know, having the experience that I have, I understand sort of whatcomes first, what comes second, what comes third? Yeah, and forinnovators that don't know those steps or don't feel like they have full command ofthose steps, grab an advisor, someone like me out in the market place, I was extremely willing to offer that...

...type of help and assistant and andI'm still doing so here locally for a couple of companies in the healthcare space. You know, I knew what lane I wanted to be in. Yeah, but you know, if you don't know how to do it, gofind someone who does and bring them into your team. Yeah, absolutely.So, you know, because me, because we've been you know, we'veknown each other for a while now, I'm familiar with a lot of theexciting things that's been happening with you and air health. So just share someof those successes. Right, let's celebrate those wins that you had. Right, let's just talk about it. And then also, I want to know, you know, how important do you think in it applying and how importantdo you think those types of initiatives are to your commercialization process? Yes,so I was scared to death to pitch my business. All right, sothis is the February time frame. We know what we want to be.We have a beautiful deck. Yeah, some people that are beautiful. Somepeople thought it wasn't. Go pitch it right, right, right. SoI just said, you know, I'm never going to know unless I startto get feedback on this. I'm going to pick one. The very firstone I picked was one of the largest accelerator programs in the United States andand I was asked to come out to California and present at Ucla, topthirty in the pool, and it was. It was game changing for me.For first of all, it didn't go very well the first presentation.Maybe big. Could could say that maybe don't go that big the first time, but I write that I took an advisor with me. She watched meright, she gave feedback to me, she watched the other people, shewent to the reception after and ask questions about. What did you see withstacy? What did you see with air health help make this better? HMM. Once we had that feedback, I just started applying like crazy. That'senable. Exactly two events that would have me right. Second Opportunity Locally,Rawlins venture competition with Rawlins College and the Crummer School of business. One Anaward there. That was at the first money in the bank that didn't comefrom US others world and actic feeling. And then we went went on inthe next couple of six weeks to win Steve Case's revolution honor, which iscalled rise of the rest. So we were the first winner in the twothousand and nineteen bus tour. That happened and they you know, we wanta hundred thousand dollars. I mean it was fantastic. Didn't the first TV, did my first MPR radio. It was really a lot of first andall I can tell you is, if you know what you want your businessto be and you have a decent way to articulate that with a story,get out there and start telling the story...

...and you will get more than enoughfeedback to move from where you are into true innovation and solving the problem that'sthat is incredible. I don't know if health innovators invest enough time in thoseinitiatives. I think that sometimes their focus on building the business and in just, you know, because those things, you know, those applications aren't,you know, five minutes to submit right. I can give you a little trick, though. Okay, so what you do is you you build acontent file right the and it'll evolved. But the way that you want topresent yourself in these programs. They ask it all kinds of different ways andwhat all kinds of different formatting. But if you will create what is myelevator pitch? What is my business proposition? What is my market opportunity? Allthe way down the line, after you've done one, two or threeof those and you seek all the way they're going to ask you, keepit in a file and cut and paste it. I can get through oneof those applications now in ten minutes. That's fantastic. That's a great tip. Yes, so, so what other advice do you have for fellow innovatorsand entrepreneurs that are in the trenches right now that are, you know,some struggling, some having some success, some maybe really discouraged with have really, you know, stuck in pilot purgatory or just having little adoption. Youknow what? What are some of the advice and encouragement that you would havefor folks? Yes, so I'll blended together because I we are not yetin the piloting mode. We do have an opportunity to start a pilot inthe fall and we are well on our way to ensuring, through the appropriateMaster Services Agreement's, the appropriate statements of work, to really focus on beingsure that the pilot, if you will, is a success, because we've laidit out from the beginning with purpose point. So we're ahead of that. So I don't have a lot of advice to say as a small company. I'm in the middle of that and know what to tell you. Yeah, I can tell you is the the last thing that I did while Iwas at Phillips was to launch a wearable's venture and that that wearable's venture wasa digital health proposition. We partnered with a company out of Silicon Valley andwith that we set about on an eighteen month piloting program and that I learneda lot from. So what I can tell you the big names aren't alwaysthe best names. Okay. So if you can find a good fit forthe type of personality that you have as a business and as a leader,and the personality and the fit of the leadership and the mission of the healthsystem, doctor, provider, payer, whatever it is that you're going afterwith your innovation, match the people first.

Personalities First, so important. Findso much more success. Save the big names, save them for alittle bit later, save them for the big, bigger companies, because they'veearned that reward of having those bigger headaches. Honestly. Okay, so, sothey get the bigger business, they get the bigger personalities. So so, I mean no disrespect to the big brands. Will get there one day. But even as a big company, we chose our pilots a little morespecifically around fit for purpose, been for personality, not necessarily how we goingto get the biggest bang for our marketing buck by talking about this pilot.Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I think that that's some true wisdom that everyonecould heed for sure. So they so, if people want to get ahold ofyou, what's the best way for them to connect with you? SoI will give you my email address directly and please send me a mail.I'm I am still on that corporate mindset of before I get out of bedin the morning I've already planned to answer everyone, so that still stuck around. So it is my first name and my last name. So Stacy,Stacie Dot Ruth, are you thh and that is at are a, IRAdot health. So Stacy Ruth at Air DOT health. Please reach out tome, and our website is simply are dot health, spelled the same way, and you can reach me directly from there as well and learn a littlebit more about the company and our progress. What's the difference between launching and commercializinga healthcare in avation? Many people will launch a new product, fewwill commercialize it. To learn the difference between launch and commercialization and to watchpast episodes of the show, head to our video show page at Dr Roxycom. Thanks so much for watching and listening to the show. You can subscribeto the latest episodes on your favorite podcast APP like apple podcasts and spotify,or subscribe to the video episodes on our youtube channel. No matter the platform, just search coiq with Dr Roxy. Until next time, LET'S RAISE OURCOIQ.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (111)