Pivoting and Launching a New Product During a Crisis
Dr. Femida Gwadry-Sridhar shares how she pivoted her company during the pandemic and launched a new product.
I am a pharmacist, epidemiologist and methodologist with over 25 years of experience in clinical trials, health analytics, clinical disease outcomes, and registries. To say that data fascinates me is an understatement. But it was also data that led me to embark on my entrepreneurial journey.
Through my research, I noticed that insufficient data meant people living with rare forms of cancers and rare diseases would not get access to effective treatments or cures. Because people living with these illnesses and conditions are so dispersed around the world yet so rare in their own countries, collecting the data needed for trials was difficult at best. That’s why I founded Pulse Infoframe, a company that specializes in medical registries for cancer and rare diseases.
But COVID-19 pointed me to another lack of data. Out of necessity, research focused on the virus itself. But what about the growing mental health crisis that accompanied the COVID-19 crisis? Not only could my company’s solution help governments and organizations measure the impact of COVID-19 on mental health, it could also be integrated into existing registries to help assess its effect on the communities we’ve been trying to help from day one.
- Innovate on Existing Products
As lockdown issues were ordered and global economic conditions shifted dramatically, I understood the impact these factors would have on stress and anxiety levels. But with the speed COVID-19 was spreading throughout the world, we didn’t have time to start from scratch.
Instead, my team and I challenged ourselves to innovate on our existing products to create a tool to help measure the impact of the pandemic on mental health. I’m happy to report that we were successful. We wouldn’t have been had we started fresh.
However, you do not need a world crisis to take this lesson to heart: nothing starts from nothing, so do not be afraid to innovate on existing products.
2. Revisit Existing Business Relationships
Earlier in the year, we had entered into a partnership with a company that specialized in collecting and analyzing patient data from the real world (as opposed to scheduled clinical settings) through mobile apps and wearable devices. Our goal was to work together to focus on keeping at-risk patients safe, while capturing the day-to-day medical information that can help advance therapies for people living with rare disease.
However, the pandemic opened new doors for us: the workplace, outside of medical trials and disease research.
When it became clear that many employees would feel nervous coming to work each day, we worked with our partner to develop a tool that would allow employees to use their mobile devices to anonymously inform their employer not only of how they were feeling emotionally, but also if they were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. This data will help employers themselves pivot as needed so that they can empower their employees to work in a way that reduces anxiety related to the pandemic.
Had we not revisited that partnership, we would not have been in a position to reach even more people.
3. Transform Operations to Meet New Business Needs
Do not be afraid of change. Similar to many organizations, we temporarily transitioned to a fully virtual work model. We’ve now modified this model to support in-person product development and strategy meetings, new project management practices and tools, and extend our reach to subject matter experts in communications, business development and data science.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has tested our creativity, agility and fortitude, we have ultimately come out stronger by pivoting and launching a new product.
I created Pulse Infoframe out of a fascination with data and a desire to help others. I let that steer me and consequently my company as the COVID-19 pandemic swept around the globe. However, I also gave myself permission to pivot — to find new solutions — so that my company could continue to grow and I could continue to help others.
Dr. Femida Gwadry-Sridhar is the founder and chief executive officer of Pulse Infoframe. She is a pharmacist, epidemiologist and methodologist with over 25 years of experience in clinical trials, health analytics, clinical disease outcomes and registries. Dr. Gwadry-Sridhar was awarded a career scientist award in 2006 from the Canadian Institute of Health Research and through her work founded the first knowledge translation health informatics lab in North America. She is a founding member of the special interest group in medical adherence at the International Society of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Measurement. Dr. Gwadry-Sridhar has received over $10 million in peer-reviewed funding and actively continues her professional interests in enabling technologies for better provider workflow and patient engagement. She holds a Ph.D. in research methodology and health economics from McMaster University.
Deployed globally and focused on cancer, rare disease, and chronic conditions, Pulse Infoframe is a health informatics and analytics company based in the science of real-world evidence. Our clients and collaborators include pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medtech companies, governments, payers and academia. We have team members in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.