Health Tech: Adnan Asar On How Lucid Lane’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall…

Posted on

Health Tech: Adnan Asar On How Lucid Lane’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness

Figure out reimbursement — Regardless of the type of product or go to market strategy, you have to address monetization of the product. Someone will have to pay for the product that you’re offering. So figure it out early. It will impact your product and how it is designed. Healthcare reimbursement is hard. Patients don’t want to pay for services considered medical or clinical. So definitely spend time on figuring out the monetization flow as part of your product.

In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adnan Asar, Co-Founder and CEO of Lucid Lane.

Adnan Asar, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lucid Lane, has extensive experience and success in building fast-growing digital health, e-commerce, consumer and enterprise services at companies such as Yahoo!, Shutterfly/Tiny Prints, Livongo Health, among others. Adnan has built $100 million + companies in the consumer and digital health spaces that went public or were successfully acquired, and that were backed by investors from Kleiner Perkins, TCV and General Catalyst. He was the founding Chief Technology Officer at Livongo Health, where he was responsible for product and technology solutions for diabetes management. Adnan was previously Global Head of Technology at Shutterfly Inc., which under his leadership reached $1 billion in revenues, and was head of technology at Tiny Prints, which was acquired by Shutterfly. He was also the first engineer hired at Keynote Systems (now Dynatrace), which went public in the late 1990s.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?

I grew up in Pakistan and came to the U.S. in 1987 after high school to go to college at UC Berkeley. I was fortunate to grow up in a family that had the means to provide for my education and a stable childhood. My parents also allowed me to make my decisions and promote a competitive yet flexible mindset. Being humble and low-ego was strongly stressed. I was a nerd spending time reading Scientific American and learning about artificial intelligence. At Berkeley I had the privilege of learning from, and getting to know, Professor Lofti Zadeh, an early pioneer in AI, who I read about growing up in Scientific American. This was a dream come true for a young adult growing up in Pakistan.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One of the more interesting, memorable and funny stories is when, at Livongo, we were pitching to the legendary investor John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins. I was doing a demo of our blood glucose monitoring device and was about to prick my finger to draw actual blood to check blood glucose levels. John was peering over my shoulder, I was stressed of course to have someone of his reputation watching over me and I was expecting him to ask a challenging, product-related question. However, to my surprise, he asked, “Does it hurt?” which really helped to lower my stress and make light of the situation. I never thanked him for making it easy for me but if he is reading this, thank you!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am who I am because of my parents. All the values that I practice and preach come from them. Hard work, teamwork, ambition, low ego, not giving up, picking yourself up after a failure and keeping going, showing up and being there, having a flexible mindset, being fair, taking risks, always learning and growing are all values that have helped me get to where I am today.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Perfect speed, my friend, is being there” -Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It starts with showing up, being responsive, and being available whether that is for your family, friends, community, customers, employees, etc. You have to show up. That is what I tell my kids. That is the foundation of trust, friendship, service to the community and showing that you care.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Taking risks — taking risks in life is important to explore and grow. I came to the U.S. and stepped away from everything I knew: culture, community support, family, and friends to come to a new, very different country where I knew very few people. My entire career I’ve been taking risks with startups and moving across different industries, from enterprise to consumer to digital health.
  2. Flexible mindset — when you live in a highly diverse world full of people from different cultures, religions, ethnic backgrounds, languages, life choices, etc., it is important that we learn to live together, understand each other and find ways to collaborate and communicate. That is only possible if you can take the other person’s point of view and understand where they are coming from. Solving hard problems, whether people-related, process-related, or solution-related, requires a flexible mindset to be able to find an optimal and unique solution.
  3. Not giving up. Lucid Lane is a great example of not giving up. There were several instances when we were told by experts and investors that this would not go anywhere. But we have been persistent in our mission and passion to create a unique market and solution that has never existed before to address a huge societal challenge that we face. It was our strong belief and conviction in the need for this solution that kept us focused on making sure that we keep going forward when there was very little visibility. As an entrepreneur, you have to have a strong conviction in your passion that you then have to package into a sound business model and keep working hard at it.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?

At Lucid Lane, we are addressing a substance use/medication dependence problem (which is a $50B Total Accessible Market for Lucid Lane) that over 50 million Americans face annually, costing the economy over $700 billion in healthcare costs in addition to causing irreparable harm and loss of life. Millions of people are becoming dependent on prescribed medications like opioids, benzodiazepines and amphetamines after an illness. Lucid Lane is the only company building a highly unique data-driven digital telehealth solution to prevent, and reverse, reliance on prescribed addictive medications, while improving their pain and mental health to help them live a better, healthier life. This not only improves patient outcomes but also reduces significant costs for the healthcare system and saves lives.

How do you think your technology can address this?

The status quo is broken, fragmented, ad-hoc with long delays. There is no comprehensive and scientifically and clinically sound solution to address this need. Our comprehensive, data-driven digital AI system delivers medication taper management and teletherapy for pain management and mental health via mobile and web. We utilize gold-standard techniques, primarily cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as remote patient monitoring to personalize treatment plans and 24/7 on-call support. We meet patients where they are, delivering care that they need without delay.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

My wife is a cancer survivor and a benzo survivor. Six years ago our lives changed when she was diagnosed with cancer. She had to go through months of chemotherapy and radiation during which she was prescribed benzodiazepine for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other chemo related symptoms. That resulted in medication dependence that was very debilitating for her and the family when she wanted to stop taking them.

Status quo medical care failed to help my wife with her mental health and medication tapering needs. We built our own private team to help her taper safely. It took nine months of continuous care, therapy, and medication taper management for her to fully taper from the meds. This is why we started Lucid Lane, to empower millions of people to prevent and end reliance on prescribed addictive medications and live better healthier lives.

How do you think this might change the world?

There are several ways that Lucid Lane will change the world. First, it reduces the number of individuals vulnerable to medication dependence by reversing the course for those who are persistently using addictive medications while also preventing the problem from the outset for individuals who are prescribed addictive medications by a physician. Second, it supports physicians and their ability to provide the highest standard of care. Our ambition is to actually change the standard of care to one where Lucid Lane is packaged with every prescription written for addictive medications. Narcan is prescribed in several states with every opioid. If Lucid Lane is prescribed with every opioid, Narcan would not be needed as a last resort. Finally, we can reduce the societal cost of healthcare by reducing the overall system problem of medication dependence and the slippery slope that leads to addiction. This benefits everyone from the end user of medication to the payers and self-insured employers who often pay for a portion of benefits.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

I don’t see how preventing and ending reliance on addictive medications can have potential drawbacks.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)

  1. Think out of the box — Market research has its place to understand the status quo, customer needs, wants, and gaps. But to re-imagine a revolutionary product and solution and a radically different customer experience and product features, you have to think out of the box. That is how Apple iPhone, iPod and other awesome Apple products were designed.
  2. Customers are not always right — Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had a counter to the popular phrase, “The customer is always right.” He said: “Some people say give the customers what they want, but that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, ‘If I’d ask customers what they wanted, they would’ve told me a faster horse.’ People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”
  3. Reimagine how things work & solve real-life problems — In order to break through the status quo, you need to rethink how things work and what your goals are. That is exactly what we’re doing at Lucid Lane. How to treat and improve the whole experience for providers and patients to drive tapering at scale is something we are re-imagining with our own expertise, intuition and ability to think out of the box. This has never been done before and I am sure that asking a patient what they wanted would not have yielded the product that we’re building.
  4. Find the door handle — Every product or service needs a door handle for the consumer / patient / member to start using your product. This may not always be what is the long term intent or intended outcome of the product but may be the initial hook that gets the user to start using your product. There has to be a strong enough need, strong enough call to action, strong enough pain point for the user to start using your product in the first place. Identify and define what that initial entry point is. That is the door handle to your product. For example, at Lucid Lane, the long term goal is to prevent and reduce use of addictive medications. However, the door handle for patients to start using Lucid Lane may be to get pain coaching for reducing their acute pain after surgery.
  5. Figure out reimbursement — Regardless of the type of product or go to market strategy, you have to address monetization of the product. Someone will have to pay for the product that you’re offering. So figure it out early. It will impact your product and how it is designed. Healthcare reimbursement is hard. Patients don’t want to pay for services considered medical or clinical. So definitely spend time on figuring out the monetization flow as part of your product.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

That is how we leave a better world and planet behind for the next generation. That is how we, as humans, make progress and impact change. That is how you want to feel fulfilled that you have spent your time well on earth helping and empowering people to live a better life.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have breakfast or lunch with Steph Curry of the Warriors NBA team. I admire him for his hard work and grit to be the best at basketball. He continues to improve his game and his physical strength every year. He is ambitious with low ego. He believes in hard work, teamwork and strength in numbers. He is a great team player and team leader. I admire these qualities.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Lucid Lane’s mission and work are primarily shown on our website, We also love to share our story with anyone who is interested, which is why we post regularly on social media via our LinkedIn and Twitter pages. I also periodically contribute thought leadership to Forbes and Lucid Lane has an active presence on Medium.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.

Health Tech: Adnan Asar On How Lucid Lane’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.