PODCAST #16. Behind the Scenes of Healthcare: How Does Product Management Drive Change?

Today’s Careminds series features a special conversation with Russell Taff, the former head of product at Ready. Russell, with his wide range of experience and in-depth understanding, shared his perspectives on the healthtech industry. We had discussions spanning from the granular details to broader insights, as we tracked his journey from being a software developer to ascending to the role of VP of product. The narrative is rich with pointers that could help new engineers pave their path to success. Let’s dive right in.

Choosing Product Development: The Story Behind the Decision

From his formative years at General Assembly in New York, Russell first cut his teeth on web development. His initial technical background was broadened significantly during an apprenticeship at an early-stage EdTech startup, where Russell learned valuable lessons about product management, including the importance of clear communication, vision, and capacity planning.

Russell’s career took a decisive turn when he transitioned into roles as a support engineer and solutions architect at a Series B startup. He found himself at the forefront of the company’s relationship with its user base, effectively translating complex technical concepts into business cases. His experiences there amplified his growing interest in product management.

His first significant role as a product manager was at Rocket Wagon, an IoT consulting firm. A mentor, Alex Casts, provided him with invaluable guidance on incorporating data at the core of their operations. Casts also introduced Russell to powerful project management principles that have since become part of his professional toolkit.

When Russell eventually joined health tech firm Ready, as Director of Product Operations, his key focus was to enhance the product’s scalability and make product feedback more effective. Following a promotion to Vice President of Product at Ready, Russell faced the challenge of steering the company in a new direction as COVID-related demands began to recede. He needed to have both a grand vision for the company’s future and a clear plan for how to get there, requiring precise financial management, astute risk assessment, and a high degree of focused execution.

Transitioning into Product Management: What Qualities Do You Need?

Firstly, having a sense of compassion is key. Having had firsthand experience at the frontline, I’ve developed empathy for users. It’s essential to understand the reasons behind users’ requests for new features or bug fixes. Don’t just see these as new tasks; delve into the core of why these requests are being made. Trust me, this understanding will build trust and create a powerful dialogue with users.

Always be open to learning. Learn from everyone – those above you, those below you. Never shy away from saying, “I don’t quite understand this, could you explain further?” Embrace every teachable moment that comes your way.

Keep your hands dirty. It’s vital to be involved in every step of product development. Before using a new template or an existing one in a new project, test it out yourself. Ensure it’s the right fit. Don’t just try to make things work; ensure they’re the right tools for the job.

Don’t forget to include visual representations of your ideas. It’s not just about words on paper; your ideas need to come to life visually. This approach fosters collaboration and opens up opportunities for feedback.

How Software Engineers Can Get Better at Business Documentation

Trust-building is a must in any work relationship. Be clear about why you’re questioning anything to prevent any misunderstanding about your intentions. It’s all too easy for stakeholders to feel their ideas are being dismissed when they hear “no,” even when the real issue is limited resources.

Communicating with stakeholders to understand their perspective is vital. Gathering insights and helping justify requests ensures a shared understanding.

Cultivate trust by clearly articulating your reasoning, explaining the “whys” and “why nots,” and showing how an idea might work now or in the future. Displaying vulnerability and a readiness to learn can also help create a collaborative environment where everyone feels comfortable admitting when they don’t understand something.

As a leader, it’s vital to create a space where vulnerability is welcome. This kind of open communication can strengthen teams by fostering mutual respect and encouraging learning from each other. Conversely, if communication isn’t transparent, teams can start to fragment.

Product managers need to also demonstrate active listening and meaningful engagement with people’s ideas. Always question and understand the reasoning behind all actions – big or small. This strategy drives progress and helps prevent the team from losing sight of the collective goal.

Consumer Preferences Matter: Why Some Products Win and Others Don’t

In the dynamics of an organization, there can often be misconceptions about the technical or product teams. Particularly among stakeholders, both internal and external, the word “no” is heard frequently. This occurrence is not due to any mistrust or disbelief in the merit of an idea but often arises from the constraints of finite resources and decision-making capacity.

So, it still boils down to trust. Explain why you’re challenging something, so people understand it’s not a distrust in their ideas, but rather a consideration of priorities. Being upfront about your “whys” or “why nots” can help build this trust and foster a collaborative environment.

There needs to be a space where people feel safe to express their doubts, fostering an atmosphere of learning. It’s when communication breaks down and feelings are kept hidden that teams start to falter.

More importantly, you should listen. Understand the essence of people’s ideas, continually questioning why we’re doing what we’re doing. This mindset keeps us focused on our collective goals.

An interesting example from the healthcare sector illustrates how behavioral economics influence consumer decisions. The ‘left digit bias’ concept, where even a slight price difference, like choosing between gas priced at 4.99 and 5.01, impacts choices.

Pre-pandemic, healthcare choices were frequently based on value and accessibility rather than exhaustive comparisons. However, in the post-pandemic world, factors like convenience, safety, and trust in service providers have become paramount. By understanding what elicits positive or negative experiences, we can craft solutions that resonate more effectively with users.

Adding or Improving: When Is the Right Time to Shift Focus in Product Development?

We frequently see companies rush to release new features or products without putting enough thought into tracking their performance or visibility. This common shortcoming can lead to missed signals that are critical to various stakeholders within the organization. It’s crucial to align on the data with all parties involved, ensuring the agreed-upon success metrics are clearly defined and measurable for each project.

Moreover, understanding your audience also helps, whether that’s internal users navigating workflows or external customers engaging with your product. Each product or feature released should cater to a specific cohort and encourage them to perform a well-defined action. This could vary from clicking a sign-up button to entering their insurance information into a workflow. The key is to clearly define these aspects, understand them, and engage in targeted personalization and segmentation to encourage action.

Having a clear vision and articulating it effectively is crucial. Each feature we’re working on must contribute to the meaningful future of the company.

While the idea of testing might conjure images of lengthy processes with numerous steps, the reality is much simpler. By having a defined cohort and a clear action, you can execute simple tests even at the point of release. Changes to words or colors, A/B testing in production, and other modifications can yield insightful data about how to move your target audience over the action line effectively.

This understanding of growth and goal-setting is crucial. Good product management also requires keeping an eye on environmental factors such as economic conditions and current events, which may affect your product or its marketing strategy. For instance, in the healthcare sector, the news cycle can greatly influence public perception. By aligning your message with the current sentiment, you can tap into these fluctuations and use them to your advantage.

Additionally, timing should align with communication, especially in value-based care workflows. The comprehension of environmental factors and patient lifestyles contributes to more meaningful communication. 

The 80/20 principle advises focusing 80% of your time on the most crucial 20% of the work. This strategy guides prioritization and ensures that important tasks get the attention they need.

If you understand your patients or users’ routines, you can communicate effectively at the most opportune times. While it’s essential to grasp the difference between correlation and causation, hypothesizing about potential correlations and reducing noise as much as possible can help you master your data rather than always playing catch-up.

What Are the Essentials of Building a Successful Product Development Team?

The concept of collective ownership is something product managers should be passionate about and strive to bring to each project. Rusell believes that including everyone in the team, from ideation through to solution, cultivates a greater sense of ownership and responsibility. This shared ownership fosters team unity, enhances motivation, and ultimately results in a product that everyone is more emotionally invested in.

For every new project, it’s essential to include everyone in the team from the initial ideation phase through to solution. This approach fosters a sense of collective ownership.

The impact of this approach is significant because teams that feel a sense of ownership, rather than just contribution, are more likely to be driven by empathy for the end-user. This empathy can lead to more user-centric solutions, as team members feel more compelled to question and improve upon aspects of the product that may not provide an optimal user experience, even if they adhere to the original specifications.

Further, incorporating input from stakeholders at all levels and across different teams can strengthen the overall solution. For instance, involving customer service in brainstorming sessions can provide valuable insights from a unique perspective. Such inclusive collaboration not only drives motivation but also ensures a richer understanding of the problem and the proposed solution.

Taking the concept of collective ownership a step further, it’s important to consider the positive habits and associations we want to foster with what we’re building. Using BJ Fogg’s behavior model, which posits that behavior is a product of motivation, ability, and a prompt, we can create solutions that users will find genuinely beneficial and become habitual users of.

A practical application of this model can be seen in the telehealth space, where functionality has been transformative, particularly for those with limited access to healthcare services, such as individuals in rural areas. These tools are especially vital for mental health services, which might be scarce in these regions.

However, while these advancements are promising, caution must be exercised to avoid pitfalls such as overprescribing. In this regard, technology can provide a solution by utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze comprehensive patient data. Such insights can lead to personalized treatment plans, thereby reducing the risk of unnecessary prescriptions.

Wrapping Up

In our engaging podcast with Russell Taff, we gleaned vital insights for burgeoning engineers and product managers. Here are three distilled points:

  • Product Management Transition: Embrace user empathy, effective communication, and continuous learning when shifting from software development to product management.
  • Engineering-Business Documentation: Foster trust and collaboration with clear, concise communication that encourages openness among stakeholders.
  • Consumer-Centric Product Development: Understand consumer behavior and needs, incorporate data-driven strategies, and establish clear success metrics for impactful product development.
  • Collective Ownership in Teams: Create a sense of shared responsibility to enhance motivation and create more user-centric solutions.
  • Behavioral Economics in Healthcare: Consider behavioral economics and adapt to shifting consumer preferences, particularly in light of significant industry changes, such as those induced by the pandemic.








The APP Solutions launched a podcast, CareMinds, where you can hear from respected experts in healthcare and Health Tech.

Who is a successful product manager in the healthcare domain? Which skills and qualities are crucial? How important is this role in moving a successful business to new achievements? Responsibilities and KPIs?

Please find out about all this and more in our podcast. Stay tuned for updates and subscribe to channels.

Listen to our podcast to get some useful tips on your next startup.

Article podcast YouTube

PODCAST #17. Charting a Course in Health Tech: From Student Entrepreneurship to Advanced Product Management

In our CareMinds series, we’re all about showcasing the many paths to success in health tech product development. Today, we have the pleasure of sharing Laura Furman’s unique story. Laura, currently a senior product manager at Oura, kicked off her leadership journey with Students Agencies.

Laura opens up about her everyday work. She emphasizes the importance of AI and machine learning tools in her role, particularly during the product discovery phase, contributing significantly to the product’s development.

We hope you find Laura’s story as captivating as we did. Happy reading!

Is Product Development a Bold Claim or a Logical Step?

“The student agency’s experience is something that keeps coming back and keeps coming up as something that was really unique and an interesting foundation.”

Laura Furman – Senior Product Manager at Oura

Conventional wisdom may suggest that early experiences become less relevant as a professional journey progresses. However, Laura finds that her involvement with Student Agencies continually resurfaces as an integral part of her career. Student Agencies is a non-profit educational institution that provided Laura with first-hand business management experience during her college years. It comprised several diverse, student-run businesses, offering services from real estate property management to tutoring, marketing, and even a full-service moving company.

In this unique setting, Laura served as the general manager of one business for a year before stepping up to become the corporation’s president. Although not directly related to product management, this entrepreneurial experience provided Laura with an invaluable perspective on running a business from top to bottom, including direct customer interaction and budgeting.

In her role as president of Student Agencies, she created the first CTO role, utilizing the skills of the engineering students to enhance business performance. Despite the annual turnover inherent to the student-run structure, Laura credits an experienced CEO’s guidance for the continuity of the businesses. This end-to-end entrepreneurship experience, she believes, is a great asset for anyone entering product management, as it provides a comprehensive understanding of business strategy.

Transitioning to Product Management: A Personal Account

“I think a lot of people when they’re transitioning have a hard time, sort of filling the gap between where they are now and the skills they need to have as a product manager.”

Laura Furman – Senior Product Manager at Oura

Laura embarked on her career journey with uncertainty, opting for the retail industry as her starting point. She joined Gap’s management rotational program, and was tasked with e-commerce merchandising. Her role entailed strategizing the customer experience on Gap’s website, from product discovery to checkout.

As she delved deeper into her role, Laura identified a problem within one of the categories she was managing. This challenge provided an opportunity for her to explore business analytics extensively. She carefully examined every SKU, tracked trends across the assortment, and used this data to analyze the state of the business.

The most significant shift in her career occurred when she led a design sprint to rectify the problem in her managed category. This experience lit up her path towards product management, leading her to investigate job descriptions and key skills required for a product manager role. With several skills already under her belt and a drive to fill the gaps in her resume through projects and side assignments, she was ready to transition into product management.

The Evolving Role of a Product Manager

“My belief is we will produce the best ideas if we collaborate, I don’t think the PM should be coming up with all the solutions themselves, the solution should arise out of collaboration with the team”

Laura Furman – Senior Product Manager at Oura

The core of a product manager’s role is being the voice of the customer. It’s about understanding their needs, not just through face-to-face discussions but also through data analysis. As you step into it, remember that it’s not only about the customer’s desires, but also about striking the right balance with the business’s expectations.

When you craft your strategy, your ability to bring people onboard will be invaluable. Drawing from Laura’s experiences and skills in debate and negotiation, you’ll find that seeing multiple perspectives and effectively persuading others to join your journey can be a game changer. Additionally, remember that growing to be a product manager involves constant learning and iteration. You’d have to negate lengthy product road maps and promote a culture of continual testing and analysis.

Tools and Resources for Aspiring Product Managers

Taking the reins on your professional growth can be an empowering experience. One effective strategy to foster continuous learning is to dedicate each quarter to a specific focus area. This could start with understanding data analytics, mastering SQL, and becoming adept with tools such as Google BigQuery and Looker. This disciplined approach provides an opportunity to delve deeper into each field, enhancing your overall skillset.

Secondly, the value of mentorship in your journey cannot be overstated. A supportive and knowledgeable mentor can accelerate your growth, guide you through uncharted territory, and provide you with essential industry insights. Building connections within your organization is a beneficial way to learn from others and gain diverse perspectives.

Lastly, don’t let the fear of appearing unknowledgeable hold you back from asking questions. It’s a common misconception that asking basic questions exposes a lack of knowledge. In reality, it often leads to constructive conversations and enhances understanding. It’s essential to comprehend the bigger picture, particularly in understanding the system architecture. Spending time with engineers to grasp how different components of the system interconnect can provide invaluable insights. This broader understanding will be key in interpreting project estimates accurately.

How AI and Machine Learning Are Impacting Product Development

“The AI and machine learning tools that you use in your day to day…it provides an uncanny ability to tap into a problem, a domain that you don’t necessarily know a lot about. And it could quickly kind of guide you towards some potential solutions that could be applied to a certain identified problem if you don’t have a deep enough context to it.”

Laura Furman – Senior Product Manager at Oura

Mercari, a popular Japanese peer-to-peer marketplace akin to eBay, has an intriguing blend of challenges and experiences. The platform accommodates a broad array of categories, including clothing, technology, home goods, and handmade crafts. With this vast spectrum of products, one interesting challenge is managing User Generated Content (UGC). The diversity in UGC listings and searches can lead to discrepancies and inconsistencies due to differences in syntax, which in turn could reduce the visibility of items in search results, thereby affecting sales.

One notable project tackled at Mercari was enhancing the search and listing experience based on the brand and category of an item. The goal was to pre-populate custom attribute fields specific to the item type being listed. For instance, if a user is listing an iPhone, they could specify the model and size, allowing potential buyers to filter down their searches effectively. This approach was particularly useful in more subjective categories like clothing, where the search could be as specific as ‘straight leg jeans.’

To add another layer of sophistication, machine learning was brought into the mix. This technology helped predict necessary custom attribute fields based on the brand and category. It also fed these attributes into Mercari’s search taxonomy to optimize search results. Towards the end, the project began to utilize computer vision to guess the category and subcategory of clothing based on the photo. While this presented new challenges due to the variety of user-submitted photos, it also offered a fascinating direction for further enhancing user experience on the platform.

Sure AI and ML Complement Product Development, But How Can Managers Put Them to Effective Use?

First, from a day-to-day operational perspective, AI could serve as a sounding board, albeit it may not replace the nuanced understanding and context that comes from someone deeply familiar with the product. The idea here is that AI tools might not fully grasp the complexity of the product and its dynamics like a human member of the team who is immersed in the project.

The second application is more exciting: using AI tools to create prototypes. This could be especially beneficial for non-technical PMs who don’t have coding skills. They could potentially leverage AI to write code and thus develop prototypes, enhancing their ability to demonstrate their ideas beyond mere words. While there’s skepticism that AI could generate a feature-ready piece of code given the uniqueness and standards of any given codebase, using AI to create initial prototypes could be an innovative approach that empowers PMs to delve more into the technical side.

It is also believed that AI could streamline the process of creating a prototype, saving valuable time. This makes AI an attractive tool in the product management space, not just for its potential to enhance the overall workflow, but also to empower product managers with new capabilities.

From Novelty to Necessity: Does a Fresh Perspective Matter When Companies Hire?

Laura’s journey to AA three years prior was primarily driven by a long-standing personal passion for health and wellness. After reading “Why We Sleep” by Matt Walker, she developed an interest in the importance of sleep for mental performance and overall wellbeing. Tracking sleep with an “Oura” ring and studying the data became an obsession, eventually leading her to a position within the company. Her shared vision with the company’s CEO, who viewed sleep as the foundational pillar of health much like personal training, created a strong connection.

Her career transition strategy involved balancing industry experience and role skills as two vital variables. Initially, she drew upon her retail industry experience while developing necessary product skills. In the next move to AA, she utilized these newly acquired skills despite not having prior industry experience. Laura believed that possessing either industry experience or role-specific skills could facilitate a successful transition.

Laura’s perspective emphasizes seeing personal strengths as valuable contributions to her role and not being discouraged by perceived shortcomings. This outlook, particularly essential in product management, is about leveraging unique experiences and skills to meet new challenges in different industries. She also understands the importance of this mindset in successfully navigating work within a remote team, such as the Finnish-based company AA.

Understanding and Improving Predictable Delivery

Working across different time zones and geographies is challenging. While Laura has experience in this from her time at Merri, dealing with a 10-hour time difference at her current company has brought new challenges. She has realized the importance of well-prepared and efficient meetings, especially given that her early morning is the end of the workday for her colleagues in Finland. A critical success factor in such settings is robust asynchronous communication, making sure everyone is fully prepared and discussions are fruitful. In addition, they have implemented a system of reviewing and improving their workflow at the end of every cycle, accepting the reality of time differences but striving to make it better with each iteration.

One key learning Laura shared is the downside of over-relying on Slack for communication. It can create confusion, lead to critical information being missed, and ultimately decrease overall happiness within the team. Instead, they have focused on making communication more structured and traceable, using tools like Sigma, Jira, and Confluence to comment directly on project documents, ensuring a clear source of truth. If there is an excessive use of Slack, it’s often a sign that the project is experiencing chaos and needs attention.

When it comes to product improvement, Laura’s approach is guided by lessons from her mentor from Google. Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) should be ambitious, and achieving 70% of an OKR is a commendable feat. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are used more at the feature level, measuring specific outcomes. She emphasizes the importance of treating the development of a feature as a hypothesis – if they do X, they should see Y outcome in the data. This approach then allows them to review and learn from the outcome, guiding the development of future features.


Here are the most important points from our conversation with Laura Furman: 

  • Early experiences matter

Laura’s involvement with Student Agencies during her college years, a non-profit educational institution that provided first-hand business management experience, played a crucial role in shaping her professional journey.

  • Transitioning is possible with the right skills and drive

Despite starting in a seemingly unrelated field (retail industry), Laura managed to transition to product management by building on the skills she had and bridging gaps through projects and side assignments.

  • Adaptability and continual learning are key in product management

The product manager’s role is not stagnant; it evolves with customer needs and business expectations. It also involves continuous learning, testing, and analyzing to stay ahead.

  • AI and ML are powerful tools in product development

These technologies not only assist in operational efficiency but also empower product managers, especially those with limited technical skills, to visualize and prototype their ideas.

  • Personal strengths and unique perspectives are valuable asset

Even if you lack industry experience, personal strengths, skills, and a fresh perspective can be instrumental in succeeding in new roles and different industries. 








The APP Solutions launched a podcast, CareMinds, where you can hear from respected experts in healthcare and Health Tech.

Who is a successful product manager in the healthcare domain? Which skills and qualities are crucial? How important is this role in moving a successful business to new achievements? Responsibilities and KPIs?

Please find out about all this and more in our podcast. Stay tuned for updates and subscribe to channels.

Listen to our podcast to get some useful tips on your next startup.

Article podcast YouTube

PODCAST #22. EMR Interoperability and Data Standardization Issues Amid AI Adoption in Healthcare

Welcome to another CareMinds podcast episode featuring Sameer Desai, Senior Director of Engineering and Product Management at Verona Health. In this two-part episode, Sameer Desai shares his invaluable insights into the limitations of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) in addressing interoperability challenges comprehensively.

Sameer Desai’s expertise allows us to delve into the specific hurdles smaller and niche healthcare practices face in achieving interoperability. With over 12 years of experience in software development and HL7 C certification, Sameer Desai has extensive knowledge of EHR systems and their intricacies. 

Throughout the episode, he sheds light on slower adoption of the FHIR standard and the cumbersome process of custom integrations they must endure to overcome interoperability challenges.

Let’s dive right in!

The Role of AI in Healthcare and Addressing Data Standardization Challenges

“I think we have heard about everybody transitioning to FHIR. Now, especially in the space I work in, we are going across 50 different EHRs. When you look at the FHIR standard, the maturity of FHIR APIs across EHRs varies a lot.”

Sameer Desai – Senior Director of Engineering & Product Management at Verana Health

According to Mr. Sameer Desai, the problem of lack of standardization has persisted over time. While there are standards in place, most healthcare providers consider them guidelines rather than strict requirements, leading to issues.

He mentions the transition to the FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standard, which many in the industry adopt. However, the maturity of FHIR varies significantly across different EHR systems. For example, one EHR may populate all the required fields correctly, while another may not adhere to the same structure or location for data population.

Mr. Sameer Desai also highlights the challenges faced in specialty areas like ophthalmology, where specific EHR systems may lack the resources or capabilities to implement the FHIR standard. Thus, some EHR systems can communicate effectively using standard formats, while others lack the capabilities or resources to do so. This presents a dilemma for building an inclusive AI program that accommodates all EHR systems, regardless of their size or resources.

He emphasizes the importance of enabling participation in AI advancements for all healthcare providers, not just those who can afford or have implemented systems like Epic. However, the customization of workflows within EHR implementations adds another layer of complexity to the FHIR framework. This is because even two Epic implementations may differ in appearance and data organization. Critical information may be stored in notes rather than standardized fields in certain fields like neurology, further complicating data extraction for algorithm development.

Mr. Sameer Desai acknowledges that such diverse data formats pose a challenge, despite recognizing that healthcare data is valuable, akin to oil. Still, it is not uniformly accessible or structured across all EHR systems. He underscores the need to address these issues and achieve standardized data formats to facilitate the development of accurate algorithms, predictions, and improvements in care quality and drug development.

Exploring the Relationship Between the Adoption of FHIR Standard and EMR/EHR Efficiency”

Mr. Sameer Desai expresses his perspective on adopting the FHIR standard and its limitations. He mentions that FHIR is still in its early stages of development and does not address all types of problems in healthcare data interoperability.

He provides an example of their current focus on helping providers submit MIPS reports, which involves administrative aspects of data. Specifically, he mentions the challenge of reconciling medications when patients visit healthcare providers. This type of specific information may not have an exact place within the FHIR standards, as FHIR is primarily evaluated as a clinical data standard. However, he notes that FHIR is also evolving to encompass financial and initiative spaces.

“So I think in the newer world, we expect, like now, we’re going to do something with images; we’re also going to do something with genomic data, which will always result in different formats.” 

Sameer Desai – Senior Director of Engineering & Product Management at Verana Health

Mr. Sameer Desai emphasizes that healthcare data goes beyond just clinical information. The data requirements become more extensive as the industry shifts from transactional to value-based healthcare. They must consider factors beyond diagnosis and disease treatment, such as socioeconomic factors. The scope of data expands to include non-healthcare-related information. Progress must be made toward achieving standard formats.

Looking ahead, Mr. Sameer Desai mentions integrating images and genomic data, which will introduce further variations in data formats. However, he highlights that the challenges extend to the core clinical data, which is not yet standardized. He believes that the pace of FHIR standard adoption will help address these issues, noting that larger DH organizations have already taken the leap, and he expects others to follow suit.

Challenges in Data Plumbing: Addressing Development Obstacles for Integrating Diverse EHR Systems

“So at some point, you have to take a hit to convert that to a common model where you can apply these algorithms at scale and move forward.”

Sameer Desai – Senior Director of Engineering & Product Management at Verana Health

Mr. Sameer Desai expresses his opinion on the challenges and significance of working on healthcare data interoperability. He believes that although this job may not appear shiny or exciting to most engineers, it is crucial for the healthcare industry. Waiting for everyone to adopt the same standards is not feasible; therefore, immediate action is necessary to solve the problems at hand and make progress. He emphasized the need to address the challenges faced in the healthcare space today.

According to Mr. Sameer Desai, the challenges in this field start with technical problems such as establishing connections and sharing data, which can be solved through APIs or direct database connections. However, the real challenge arises once the data is in the environment and needs to be understood. This requires collaboration with EHR vendor partners, who may have different priorities and may be hesitant to cooperate, especially when dealing with startups that lack the leverage of larger organizations. Convincing EHR vendors to work together and establish a common data model becomes crucial, particularly when working across multiple entities.

Another obstacle is the operational aspect, where people become more dependent due to the complexity involved. Working with multiple EHR systems (30 to 50 in this case) requires finding a common data model to apply machine learning and analytical algorithms at scale. Operational challenges also arise from capturing data within EHRs, as different systems may have varied data entry and organization approaches.

He provided an example of the complexity involved in medication reconciliation, where different EHRs use diverse methods such as procedure codes, flags, reverse flags, or note templates. Human involvement becomes essential in resolving such discrepancies, leading to a greater need for larger teams to handle multiple EHR systems effectively.

“It’s also about figuring out these operational things – where does it make sense to invest in automating, and where does it make sense to actually just have people do it?”

Sameer Desai – Senior Director of Engineering & Product Management at Verana Health

Additionally, Mr. Sameer Desai mentioned the complexity at the practice level, where non-standard EHRs allow unstructured notes, and each provider or nurse practitioner may have a way of documenting information. These technological and operational challenges require balancing automation and human intervention, depending on the specific situation and the value derived from solving the problem.

He concludes by emphasizing that all startups encounter these challenges, and the key lies in finding a happy balance or a happy medium. This balance involves determining the value of solving problems and deciding whether automation or human effort is the most suitable approach. Mr. Sameer Desai considers achieving this balance to be an art or science in itself.

Unveiling Verana Health’s Strategies for Tackling Standardization Challenges in Healthcare”

Mr. Sameer Desai shares his perspective on Verana Health’s unique position and approach to solving healthcare data challenges. He believes that Verana Health has a distinct advantage in working with societies and specialties, enabling them to leverage their influence with HR vendors. By collaborating with these societies, Verana Health can request additional support in terms of data mapping and establishing connections with HR vendors.

Mr. Sameer Desai emphasizes that Verana Health’s primary focus is to provide the best customer satisfaction for its registry members. To achieve this, they meet their customers where they are. For practices using Epic, Verana Health has an FHIR injection API that allows them to easily ingest the data. This minimizes the burden on hospitals or practices. However, for practices using smaller, specialized HR systems that may not have similar integration capabilities, Verana Health is responsible for directly obtaining data from their databases.

They then work closely with the HR vendors to understand data mappings and ensure compatibility. Alternatively, if the HR systems have standardized data extracts, Verana Health works with those extracts and maps them to their common data model. This approach provides multiple options to customers, allowing them to participate in the registry and benefit from insights into the quality of care while receiving suggestions for improvement.

Additionally, Mr. Sameer Desai highlights that Verana Health considers patients’ well-being. They offer practice opportunities to participate in clinical trials, ultimately benefiting patients. While certain regions may have limited access to breakthrough treatments and trial participation, Verana Health strives to solve data-related problems for them. They facilitate connectivity to platforms and ensure that these regions are included, enabling them to be part of the larger healthcare ecosystem.

Furthermore, Verana Health leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to go beyond structured data. They analyze unstructured data such as notes and employ AI models to identify additional information. Verana Health excels not only in identification but also in converting this unstructured data into a structured format. By doing so, they can provide valuable structured data to research organizations and clinical trials, aiding in research advancements.

Achieving Effective Problem Solving and Execution in Product Development: Verana Health’s Collaborative Model and Success Stories

“I build the platform, I get the data, and then my outbound product managers are building experiences based on which customer they are serving.” 

Sameer Desai – Senior Director of Engineering & Product Management at Verana Health

Mr. Sameer Desai discusses the collaborative structure and roles within Verana Health’s product management team. He explains that the structure resembles a common model seen in Silicon Valley, known as inbound or outbound product managers or technical product managers versus traditional product managers. Regardless of the terminology, Mr. Sameer Desai’s focus at Verana Health is on building the platform.

“So I am more technically oriented in terms of setting up the platform and looking at how we can scale this.” 

Sameer Desai – Senior Director of Engineering & Product Management at Verana Health

As a technical product manager, Mr. Sameer Desai is primarily responsible for platform development and scalability. He considers the developers and individuals who will create additional applications on top of the platform as his customers. He focuses on the technical aspects of platform setup and operational scalability rather than direct customer interaction.

On the other hand, the outbound product managers work with the data and insights generated by the platform. They use this information to create tailored experiences for different customer segments. Verana Health serves various customer bases, including societies, doctors/providers, and clinical trial sponsors. Each customer base has specific needs, and the outbound product managers build experiences and applications to address those needs.

Mr. Sameer Desai emphasizes that the platform he develops remains agnostic to the specific customer bases. He acts as a layer between the data insights and the engineers, ensuring they clearly understand how the data is used without burdening them with customer-specific details. This structure allows for effective collaboration and streamlines the product development process.

Verana Health’s Resourceful Approach to Ensuring Smooth and Efficient Scaling

According to Mr. Sameer Desai, operational scaling at Verana Health involves several key aspects. Firstly, connecting with different electronic health record (EHR) systems is challenging, some of which are cloud-hosted while others are on-premises. With over 1,500 connections to individual practices, the goal is to make the setup process as easy as possible, particularly for small practices with limited IT resources. Verana Health focuses on building user-friendly and remotely manageable solutions to alleviate the burden on these practices. 

In addition to the operational challenges, there is a focus on reducing data latency. In contrast to the traditional approach of working with claims data that may have a lag of 90 days, their goal is to shorten the lag to weeks. Maintaining connections and ensuring stability is crucial in achieving this objective. The company takes responsibility for ensuring the smooth running and uptime of these connections, focusing on maintaining low latency for data refreshes.

Another aspect of scaling involves the staggered implementation of different EHRs. Each EHR system may be adopted by practices at different times, which requires careful planning and program management. Resources on their side and the EHR partners’ side are limited, so efficient planning is necessary to make the implementation process feasible. Verana Health has dedicated mapping and clinical data transformation resources available for this purpose.

Once the data is received, another scaling layer comes into play, addressing data curation and organization for specific disease areas. Verana Health focuses on understanding market needs and the requirements of research organizations to effectively curate and transform the data for analysis and research purposes.

While these aspects are important, Mr. Sameer Desai emphasizes that the first two aspects, which are external-facing and involve operational scaling, hold greater significance. Meeting their partners’ needs is a priority, and achieving it requires a combination of art and induction in the planning process. It is not solely a scientific endeavor but also involves carefully considering various factors to ensure successful scaling and operational efficiency.

The Future of Interoperability: Navigating Integrations and Data Streams for Smaller Startups and Niche Practices

“We are moving towards data set marketplaces, where startups can leverage pre-cleaned data sets and build experiences that other competitors are not focused on.” 

Sameer Desai – Senior Director of Engineering & Product Management at Verana Health

According to Mr. Sameer Desai, the healthcare industry lags behind other sectors in effectively leveraging data. He acknowledges that there are reasons for this discrepancy, noting that healthcare cannot acquire data in the same way as consumer industries.

However, Mr. Sameer Desai points out an emerging trend in the overall data landscape: the rise of data set marketplaces. He cites AWS as an example of a company that has recently introduced its marketplace, and he believes that other vendors are pursuing similar initiatives. This development will make the data space more interesting as organizations undertake the initial groundwork. They’ll be responsible for the data cleaning and preparation processes, making curated data sets available in these marketplaces.

Mr. Sameer Desai highlights the potential benefits for startups in this evolving landscape. By leveraging these curated data sets, startups can explore developing new AI models to address challenges that other industries and competitors may not be focusing on. Alternatively, they can utilize the data to build unique experiences that competitors have not yet explored or may not be interested in pursuing.

He emphasizes exhaustively exploring these options before resorting to expensive data acquisition methods. Mr. Sameer Desai acknowledges that establishing numerous connections and acquiring data through traditional means can be a capital-intensive process.

Let’s Sum it Up

Here are five key takeaways from our discussion with Mr. Sameer Desai:

  • Data standardization challenges persist in healthcare, hindering interoperability and AI’s full potential.
  • Although still in its early stages, adopting the FHIR standard is essential for achieving data interoperability in healthcare. 
  • Technical and operational obstacles must be addressed, including reconciling different data entry methods and addressing variations in data organization across different systems.
  • Verana Health employs unique strategies to tackle data standardization challenges. They also offer multiple options for practices of different sizes and capabilities to participate and benefit from insights into care quality.
  • Operational scaling, reducing data latency, and effective data curation are crucial for successful healthcare data management.








The APP Solutions launched a podcast, CareMinds, where you can hear from respected experts in healthcare and Health Tech.

Who is a successful product manager in the healthcare domain? Which skills and qualities are crucial? How important is this role in moving a successful business to new achievements? Responsibilities and KPIs?

Please find out about all this and more in our podcast. Stay tuned for updates and subscribe to channels.

Listen to our podcast to get some useful tips on your next startup.

Article podcast YouTube

PODCAST #6. How to Create Products People Want: The Secret of Success

Our new episode features Lindsay Dornfeld, MBA, Sr. Manager Veradigm – Bachelor’s in Rehabilitation Psychology, Masters in Business Administration, and she’s also a certified health information technology specialist. It’s hard to find a more appropriate education for what she’s doing now. Lindsay began her journey in medicine, working with children with autism. Even though her work is no longer directly related to patients, their happiness with the product is always at the forefront of her mind.

Lindsay Dornfeld’s Journey in Healthcare Management

One of her first jobs as a manager rather than a therapist was involved in leading platform migration training for end users for the climate education process. Here Dornfeld not only taught but also learned how to listen to users and try to consider their wishes and further improve the results.

When you know what you’re doing or why or how you are doing it, but to be able to explain it to someone else is a really invaluable skill.

In her next position, Lindsay is already managing program KPIs, better performance, patient progress metrics, and client portals: “Driving greater transparency starts with everyone agreeing that it’s okay to have roadblocks, it’s okay to refine the data if you’re working on project management, but you’re stuck in thinking it has to be a certain way.”

To account for KPIs, Lindsay uses the colors of a traffic light, where green means all is well, yellow means you may be at risk and red means you are already at risk (of deadlines, budgets, etc.) And green all year round doesn’t mean that by the end of the year, red won’t suddenly show up somewhere, so it’s better to use yellow as a safety net, and you don’t end up in the red zone. After all, always being on your guard is justified for work and your personal life.

Breaking Barriers for Team Success

Lindsay stresses the importance of communicating with end users to clearly understand their work: “If I’m talking to someone in a nursing home, I might want to speak to a charge nurse. I wasn’t even aware of that detail that would impact her workflow, so looking for that strategic partner and getting the whole team’s buy-in and responsiveness will be beneficial for the whole team needed.”

If you say: “I need this signature by the end of the month because it is 2-5 million dollars,” and it’s critical to the success of our product, that’s a little bit easier to say: “I need this now, I need this right now” all the time.

If I can’t explain why it’s important and urgent, then it probably is something that can wait until tomorrow.

Lindsay shared how she selects people for her team, what a stopgap is, and why. She also shared her vision for her role: “My team is smarter than me. So I’m here as a manager and a leader to break down those barriers for them to get the roadblocks out of the way so that they can come through and do their job, and they do it the best.”

NPS and the User Experience

Our guest also explained why she considers NPS (not profit or margin) the main indicator of success. You can’t think you’re doing well if people don’t recommend your product to people they know.

I want to be able to make a doctor’s appointment in less than one minute, and that’s my measure of success.

This means paying attention to the critical errors that get in the way of making a doctor’s appointment in one minute. At the same time, don’t focus on the flaws that don’t affect the inconvenience of the appointment in any way. In this way, the 20 root causes eliminate 80 percent of errors. Involve people, talk, ask questions, and interrogate. So you end up with a car that can go from point A to point B, and whether it has heated seats and a sunroof is secondary.

I keep the business lens, and I see the dollars and the numbers, but I also see the people and the families. The joy, the pain, the reason you know why we do what we do.






The APP Solutions launched a podcast, CareMinds, where you can hear from respected experts in healthcare and Health Tech.

Who is a successful product manager in the healthcare domain? Which skills and qualities are crucial? How important is this role in moving a successful business to new achievements? Responsibilities and KPIs?

Please find out about all this and more in our podcast. Stay tuned for updates and subscribe to channels –

Spotify: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/abvcQJFW3tb

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@careminds4634/ 

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PODCAST #7. Exposing the Unrevealed Product Success: What Connections Are Key?

Today our guest is Estee Goldschmidt, VP of Product Management at Parsley Health. Her experience varies from launching a startup and fundraising and understanding everything about that culture to managing multi-international product development teams. Estee came to the US at 17 and immediately got involved in the student community, holding responsible positions.


Interestingly, Estee’s first job was a position in the marketing department of a cosmetics company… Estee Lauder. Such concurrencies sometimes happen! One of her most important decisions involved a strategy for distributing free product samples. Instead of making everyone go through the headache of planning samples twice a year, Estee offered to match this with an actual sales pipeline, and it resulted in huge savings for the company.


Even if you’re sort of one person out of thousands, there’s still a way to have an impact and improve things.

Not all of Estee’s decisions were winnable. But she was not discouraged; on the contrary, she made more effort. In particular, she was fired up by the idea of creating a startup. Estee spent a summer in Israel at a startup gas pedal, watching other founders do it. Instead of writing business plans, founding companies, assembling teams, pitching contests, and trying to find funding, they just started creating a product and offering it to customers. And when they got customers, they started saying, how do I make something official out of this? How do I get funding to launch this idea?

Getting people to pay for a product that’s essentially free is brilliant.

Esti then went back to the US and got 4,000 active users within two months-that was the result of creating a sales map, where people open it and see what events are happening near you. Esty shares the experience of reaching goals, “We didn’t have millions of meetings where we were trying to make a lot of different parts of the group happy, it was like whether or not we were doing it, and if we were, we all agreed, and we were working on it.”

The ability to move fast is something that has to be maintained.

In a fast-moving company, there’s a powerful alignment of mission and what needs to be done. In big companies, most of the work that needs to be done is already completed, everything is stable, the processes work, you know it’s a well-oiled machine, so if you bring in a new person or someone comes in, first of all, there are a lot of cases where there’s no work to justify team X, so many teams start working to understand what their purpose is, and that kind of white space can provide opportunities to discover new areas or what can be done better, but it can also lead to places where another big.

You could have the smartest people in the room, the most educated people, the most experienced people, but if everyone’s focused on their own thing or rowing against each other, it’s very hard to accomplish anything.

About the experience at Cerebral: I was working on what needed to be fixed, so in the beginning, I just made sure that our offering was relevant and that everything worked as it was meant to, and that was the first step and the second step was to strategize the following steps, what we offer, how to make what we offer better and stronger by listening to our customers and understanding where their pain points are, what we can fix, what we can take away, so the customer experience is better. The product manager doesn’t have to tell team members how to work, the developers and designers are professionals in their field, and they know better.

When it comes to making product decisions, it seems to me that the answer should always be: what’s best for the customer?

If you follow that path and use that as a guiding star, you’ll have a good strategy. There’s a precise balance in management between “get away from me with your micromanagement” and “I care about feeling your support”-the key is establishing trust.

The last thing you want as a manager is for your team to be afraid of you.

And if something goes wrong and you don’t know about it and then things blow up in your face, you want them to feel safe and be able to say, hey, this is going wrong, and then I’ll help them solve it, because I end up hiring people for work that I don’t want to do for them.

You have the financiers, you have the marketers, you have the doctors, but who represents the customer, and everything is done for the customer, so the job of products is to sit at the table and be that customer, be that voice of the customer.

Three examples of these qualities the most talented professional product managers have been. The most important is an obsession with customers as a guiding star. Another quality is the ability to execute. A third is an ability to step back when necessary and let your associates do their job.

I have a work style and an idea of how to impact things, and ultimately, I want to be in a place that “wants” those skills and recognition instead of hiding and trying to conform to something I am not. You can be great at one place and wrong at another.







The APP Solutions launched a podcast, CareMinds, where you can hear from respected experts in healthcare and Health Tech.

Who is a successful product manager in the healthcare domain? Which skills and qualities are crucial? How important is this role in moving a successful business to new achievements? Responsibilities and KPIs?

Please find out about all this and more in our podcast. Stay tuned for updates and subscribe to channels:

Listen to our podcast to get some useful tips on your next startup.
Article podcast YouTube      Article podcast Spotify

PODCAST #13. The Psychology of Product Management: Unlocking Human Insights

In this latest episode of CareMind’s podcast, we delve into the fascinating intersection of psychology and product management. We had the privilege of interviewing Shane Blackman, the Director of Growth at Noom, who brings a unique perspective to the field thanks to his Ph.D. in psychology and social policy. 

Shane’s background allows him to provide deeper insights into human relationships in product development and management. Join us as we uncover valuable tips and actionable advice that you can apply to your own career, and learn how understanding the human element can lead to more successful products.

From Psychology to Product Management: Shane Blackman’s Unique Journey

Shane’s path into product management began unexpectedly after getting his Ph.D. in 2014. A colleague from grad school introduced him to the world of user research at Priceline.com, where he eventually started running experiments on the website using his psychology background. Working with designers and developers, Shane found his passion for product management, despite not knowing much about it initially.

Every product manager has a unique story, emphasizing that there is no one-size-fits-all path into the field. Shane’s experience in investigating people’s perception of objectivity, beliefs, opinions, and decision-making within social groups aligns well with the day-to-day responsibilities of a product manager. By chance, during his time at Priceline.com, Shane transitioned from a product manager to the head of product analytics, leveraging his expertise in analytics.

The Importance of Growth Opportunities in Product Management

According to Shane, he began working on opaque hotel booking products, focusing on the front-end user experience. He ran experiments to improve the booking process and achieved success in this area. Shane attributes his accomplishments to his background in statistics and experiment methodology, which allowed him to understand the components of a good experiment and how to interpret the data.

I believe there’s a big opportunity for product managers to apply psychological concepts to their organizational practices, including recruitment, structure, feedback methods, leadership representation, and more.

Shane admits that by embracing opportunities and leveraging his expertise in his passionate area, he discovered the challenges and limitations of the A/B testing infrastructure. This piqued his interest in addressing the problem of determining what was actually good or bad when testing, and how much data was enough to make quick decisions. An opportunity arose to rebuild the core A/B testing infrastructure, which led to collaboration with Booking.com and learning from their advanced experimentation approach.

As more data-oriented opportunities emerged, Shane found his path eventually led to the role of Head of Product Analytics. In this position, he oversaw the A/B testing program, system, and a team of analysts generating insights from product data. He believes the core themes of his journey include curiosity, willingness to leverage strengths, and openness to new opportunities.

Shane emphasizes the importance of amplifying one’s own strengths within the organization and saying yes to opportunities, which allowed for diversified experiences and growth within the product management field. He admits that his focus on data analysis provided valuable insights for decision-making and overall success.

Is Data Necessary for Balancing Objectivity and Ambiguity in Product Management? 

Determining good data for a particular outcome involves following the scientific method, starting with a clear hypothesis and then designing experiments to test that hypothesis rigorously. 

Good data is data that helps you make a decision and understand whether your hypothesis is true or not.

Avoiding confirmation bias is crucial; be open-minded and willing to change your hypotheses based on the data. Collaboration with stakeholders such as engineers, designers, and data scientists is essential for collecting the right data and interpreting it accurately.

Having a clear and specific core hypothesis protects against inferential muddiness or noisiness that can occur when looking at a set of data. If results outside the core hypothesis emerge, consider discounting, replicating, or generalizing them in new situations.

The key to using data effectively is to establish protections, guardrails, and norms when examining data for the first time and deciding what actions to take based on that data. This approach ensures a more holistic understanding of the problem and better decision-making.

The Product Manager’s Role in Clarifying Hypotheses

It’s important to have a very clear hypothesis and to be clear about what you’re trying to learn from the data, and then to design your experiments, design your tests in a way that will give you the data that you need to make that decision.

Product managers, often seen as the CEOs of their products, are ultimately responsible for various aspects of the product, including setting hypotheses and driving experimentation processes. However, this responsibility doesn’t mean they should work alone. Collaboration with teammates in user research, design, and data science can help refine hypotheses and improve the overall approach.

One of the hardest things to do in product management is identifying the fundamental assumption in a product that must be tested.

To maximize the product’s success, product managers  must be open to iterating and learning as they go. Creating a culture of experimentation and learning within the team is also vital. Product managers should facilitate discussions, encourage team members to contribute ideas, and develop ways to test these ideas systematically and rigorously.

Understanding the user’s emotional journey and the psychology behind their experience can significantly improve product development. For instance, when asking for sensitive information from customers, product managers must ensure they can provide an emotional outlet that reassures users about the security and necessity of the information. Additionally, dividing the process into smaller, manageable steps, starting with the easiest, can help build user comfort and commitment.

During a period of rapid growth, product managers may also need to scale agile teams to handle increased workloads and maintain efficiency. By leveraging their skills and working closely with their teams, product managers can effectively navigate the challenges and opportunities that arise in product development.

How Can Product Managers Help Scale Agile Teams? 

Scaling a team at high velocity can be a challenging yet exciting time in one’s career. To ensure a successful transformation, you should have clear counterparts in engineering and design, and to empower these team leaders to make decisions independently. Also establishing strong communication and collaboration between team members can help temas grow.

Another thing is maintaining sprint retrospectives even under deadline pressure so that emerging issues can be timely spotted, ensuring that the team continues learning and adapting. Quarterly meetings, such as “persevere versus pivot” sessions, can help teams evaluate their performance, goals, and strategies, and decide whether to continue, pivot, or spin down a team.

The collective experience of team members is invaluable in making informed decisions about the direction and opportunities available to a team. In the context of a health-focused company like Noom, leveraging behavioral science can empower people to take control of their health and manage conditions like stress, anxiety, diabetes, and hypertension through weight management programs.

Managing Team Perspectives During Product Development

Shane’s research suggests that people are predisposed to attribute bias to others who disagree with them, even in subjective domains. This holds true in product management organizations as well. When presenting experiment results and interpreting data, it’s important to be aware of our own biases and how they might affect our reactions to conflicting hypotheses. To counteract this, organizations should cultivate a culture that encourages open discussion, acknowledges biases, and fosters an understanding of how biases can influence decision-making.

Final Thoughts

Integrating psychology and product management can lead to a deeper understanding of human behavior and collaboration, ultimately resulting in more effective and successful products. Key takeaways for product managers include:

  • Embracing growth opportunities and leveraging one’s strengths in areas of passion allows for diversified experiences and career growth within the product management field.
  • Good data is crucial for product managers to balance objectivity and ambiguity; collaboration with stakeholders ensures accurate data collection and interpretation.
  • Product managers must be open to iterating and learning, fostering a culture of experimentation and collaboration within their teams to maximize product success.
  • During periods of rapid growth, product managers should focus on clear communication, collaboration, and decision-making processes to effectively scale agile teams and manage challenges








The APP Solutions launched a podcast, CareMinds, where you can hear from respected experts in healthcare and Health Tech.

Who is a successful product manager in the healthcare domain? Which skills and qualities are crucial? How important is this role in moving a successful business to new achievements? Responsibilities and KPIs?

Please find out about all this and more in our podcast. Stay tuned for updates and subscribe to channels.

Listen to our podcast to get some useful tips on your next startup.

Article podcast YouTube