The rise of virtual healthcare: Interview with BioSerenity’s Chief Medical Officer

Interview by Lauren Harris, Director of X4 Life Sciences

Bruce Lavin is Chief Medical Officer at BioSerenity, one of the leading global providers of remote diagnostic solutions whose aspiration is “to use technology to ensure that every patient on this planet has access to the care that they deserve.”

From the rise of AI and the future of remote-based monitoring in the healthcare industry, to the biggest challenges competing for top talent in the highly competitive medical device sector, Bruce sheds a light on the exciting advancements in virtual healthcare.

What projects are you most passionate about right now at BioSerenity?

I am passionate about building our remote diagnostic technology for the establishment of virtual diagnostic centres, so even the most rural areas or developing parts of the world have access to healthcare practitioners. We’re looking at integrating our remote wireless technology to set up virtual clinics, with the aspiration of using technology to ensure that every patient on the planet has access to the care they deserve.

Another project is medical research, focussing on real-world data related to diseases and building a virtual model so we can perform clinical research and studies in patients’ homes. It brings together the whole concept of virtual healthcare and connectivity with patients, allowing for a more diverse patient population.

What would you say are your biggest challenges when competing for top talent in the medical device industry?

Over the past couple of years, we have evolved to a paperless and more virtual environment, with a greater need for the understanding of computer sciences and software. With a younger workforce, it’s about knowing how to be adaptable when it comes to technology, with the pendulum shifting towards the harder skillsets which are becoming more difficult to find.

It’s a competitive market, especially within our business where we look for specialists in neuro-engineering – it’s inevitably a finite group of individuals lots of companies are fighting for. On the other hand, we are optimistic as geographical location is less of an issue with the dramatic shift to remote working.

What are the biggest challenges in a high growth business in the current market climate?

The remote and virtual work environment brings many positives as it allows for flexibility of geographical location and benefits the work-life balance. On the flip side, you lose the connectivity and spontaneity you often have in the office, being able to problem-solve without the need for a two-hour meeting that has been booked in advance. Within a rapidly growing company, it has been problematic as it is important to ensure alignment in vision, talking points and synergy in roles and responsibilities. I try to communicate with the team and set aside time to have a ‘virtual open door’ where it enables live dialogue.

With changes such as the new EU AI Regulation coming into force, how do you plan for uncertainty without that hampering innovation?

It takes a lot of discipline in terms of doing your due diligence, but for each medical device, we have the appropriate global input and ensure we have our finger on the pulse in anticipation. You can never predict what will happen, but you must build a medical device that can be adaptable and anticipate market needs. Although I doubt there will be huge differences from a regulatory standpoint for the USA, UK and EU markets, as a global company you have to keep informed of the changes in the market.

What is the future of remote-based monitoring in the healthcare industry?

There has been a steep upwards trajectory of growth in telemedicine and remote diagnostics, where before COVID-19 there were approximately 350 telemedicine companies, and now there are over 750 companies. Once you offer something that adds benefit or convenience, it becomes very difficult to take it away – so moving forward we will see a greater embrace of remote wireless technology, with the growth of AI leading to the use of predictive analytics in decision making for those who are at most risk of disease.

What has been your biggest learning curve as a leader over the last 12 months?

Over the past year, I have learnt the importance of being able to communicate, set an example and not asking others to do tasks that wouldn’t appeal to you. As a leader, you have to be able to demonstrate that you are not holding yourself at any higher level than anyone else and ensuring everyone has an equal voice. I have also learnt the ability to understand what people are going through and help them to be more productive and cope with the challenges they face.

Has your leadership style or structure changed over the last 12 months?

I come from a military background, so I have always tried to lead by example and believe that respect is something that should be earned. I’ve embraced these values to make sure that the needs of my team are more important than my own needs. The past year we have been disconnected so I’ve learnt to be more available and transparent with my team – I want to see that continue!

How did you navigate your career moves?

I wish there was a magic answer – it was a matter of timing and opportunity! One thing I’ve learnt is you can never fully anticipate or predict an outcome, but can only prepare, adapt and respond.

Many doors will be open in front of you, but they cannot pull you in, you alone have to make the conscientious choice of walking through a door, it has to be a leap of faith. You have to constantly improve and learn with every role and take the greatest opportunity from what you are doing today.

As a leader, how do you stay focused on the vision and make sure your people are engaged in what you are trying to achieve?

I do my best not to force a vision as it’s important for individuals to voice their understanding of it. Nothing is fixed, so if the vision is not flexible and the team can’t readily align with it, then it’s not an issue with the team, rather the vision itself. There has to be a degree of open-mindedness and willingness to take the plunge and recognize that nothing is forever, and this leads to growth.

What’s one thing you think more people should know?

Nothing is ever certain so you should not expend the majority of your effort on things you cannot control. We only have a certain amount of time, so change direction, and use the energy to find ways that you can adapt or evolve and keep moving forward.

What are you most optimistic about right now?

I have a huge amount of faith in humanity and our ability to collectively put our minds together and come up with a solution to a challenge. Look what we’ve done within a relatively short period of time with regards to vaccines and how we’ve taken medical science to the point where we are able to fight a disease that we’d never heard of a year and a half ago. If we find ways to avoid obstacles and put our minds together, we have the ingenuity and pioneering spirit to accomplish anything.

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