Renee Ryan has had quite a career in the world of healthcare. Having worked in investment banking and at Johnson & Johnson's Ventures group, Ryan has become the CEO of Cala Health, a bioelectronic medicine company transforming the standard of care for chronic disease.
Ryan began her journey to the CEO role by attending school on the East Coast. She studied economics and landed her first job in healthcare soon after graduation. She found herself drawn to the industry by the idea of contributing to developing something to help patients struggling with complex illnesses.
With a focus on investment banking, Ryan had a successful career. She was even part of the initial public offering of a company that had developed the first implantable cardiac defibrillator.
When asked what led her to Cala, Ryan answered that she was the first investor in the company and discovered the technology it offers through its Biodesign program fellowship at Stanford. The company develops a wearable neuromodulation therapy to help reduce hand tremors in patients with Parkinson's or essential tremors.
Since joining Cala as an investor, Ryan has continued to rise through the ranks until she eventually became CEO. With her experience in healthcare, financial acumen, and understanding of the technology-driven healthcare industry, Ryan had the credentials to help take Cala to the next level.
Before the pandemic, Ryan was in the middle of building the company. This meant navigating the lengthy regulatory approvals often necessary in the medical industry. She noted that Cala could go from start to finish, from initial pilot studies to FDA approval for its wearable device, in just four years—startlingly fast compared to drugs, which usually take up to 15 years from start to finish.
The pandemic was an additional challenge for Ryan and the rest of the company, which had to quickly figure out how to continue running the business while abiding by all COVID-19 safety regulations. Fortunately, the pivot to telemedicine enabled by the pandemic has opened up new opportunities for Cala. Now, physicians can virtually fit patients for the device and provide instructions on how to use it.
The response from patients to the life-changing technology the company offers is why Ryan loves her job. She shared the story of one woman who regained her dignity after many years of living with severe hand tremors to the point that she could not feed herself or dress. Now, she has been using the Cala device to improve her quality of life.
Ryan also highlighted the impact of recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning on Cala Health. The company's device, the Cala Trio, utilizes motion sensors and an algorithm to match the waveform of the tremor of patients receiving nerve stimulation therapy. Cala has also successfully leveraged robotics process automation and machine learning tools to speed up the claims and medical necessity process.
When asked to speculate on healthcare's future, Ryan responded enthusiastically. She gave a glimpse into the future of the operating theater, which she believes will become extremely data-driven and advanced with AI and robotics. She also highlighted the need for more preventative healthcare, citing the recent interest in primary care and solutions to global health issues like obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Through her exciting and successful healthcare journey, Ryan has become an example for leaders, seeing the potential of technology-driven healthcare and its impact on the industry, patients, and the world.
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