Health Tech: Dr. Ronny Shalev On How Dyad Medical Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness
Spend a lot of time thinking about how you approach the market. This is a key to convincing yourself and investors alike that end-users are willing to pay for your service or product (obviously, if you can have some revenue, it is ideal to convince anyone that you are solving a real problem).
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 Dr. Ronny Shalev
Ronny Shalev, PhD, is the CEO and co-Founder of Dyad Medical Inc., a company that develops FDA-cleared software which automatically analyzes the content of cardiac and cardiovascular images using artificial intelligence. He has spent much of the past 25 years in executive positions, including VP of Sales and Marketing at Orbotech (NASDAQ: ORBK), where he managed teams of >100 people worldwide and Director of the World-wide Program Management at Marvell Semiconductor (NASDAQ: MRVL). An expert in developing new projects, medical image processing, machine learning and visualization, he has a significant amount of experience as an entrepreneur and is dedicated to using his skills to help physicians make accurate decisions to improve patient outcomes.
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?
Hello, thank you for having me be part of this interview series. I hope your readers learn something new. I started my career as a software engineer at IBM R&D in Israel, focusing on medical archiving systems and remote analysis. That experience has informed so much of what I’ve accomplished since then. I’m grateful for my education and business venture experiences. My whole life I’ve strived for excellence in whatever I was doing and wherever I was doing it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
While working at Orbotech, my responsibilities included managing sales and marketing teams from different countries including Israel, USA, Taiwan, China, and Belgium. Although I was aware of the differences between cultures and countries, it never occurred to me that the differences were so significant. At first, I found learning these cultural nuances to be overwhelming. Even a meeting that was supposed to be about a simple sales subject would take a wrong turn over disagreements stemming from cultural differences. I soon realized that to be able to handle this successfully, I would have to literally go to each of the above countries’ embassies and consulates in Israel to ask for guidance regarding business culture, what is acceptable and especially what is not acceptable.
Very quickly, I learned to enjoy and embrace these differences and the challenge. Not only have I learned a lot, but it also helped me in my work and defined many aspects of the way I do things today, at my current startup. Although nowadays the issues of inclusion, diversity, and acceptance of the different cultures has become a big political subject, for me practicing it became a second nature long time ago. I learned early on that we can accomplish great things when we see our differences as a strength, not a weakness.
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?
A successful entrepreneur must be able to pick themselves up and keep going after failure and endure many challenges and conflicts along the way. When a founder is on his/her own, there may be a breaking point that is difficult to get out of without seeking help. This is where a supporting spouse is very critical. For me, my wife is my hero. She is always right beside me, supporting me at every step of the way. For example, when I should/can make changes on-the-fly and not be locked on a fixed position even if things around you change constantly (something every entrepreneur has to deal with). Having someone to consult with, get support from and help in actual implementation is a huge plus…
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“He who dares, wins.” It does not mean that anyone who dares to do something extraordinary wins, but it definitely means that if one does not dare, he/she is sure to not win. You have to take chances and those who are willing to put up a struggle have a better chance at success.
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?
In my opinion, a successful leader needs the following: 1) a focused vision, 2) self-belief and agility, and 3) persistence. When I started my current venture founding Dyad Medical, I had a clear purpose: to develop technology that helps doctors treat patients efficiently and accurately so they can focus their expertise and energy on what matters most, which is providing quality care to patients. Having a clear and focused vision, I was able to use my expertise in machine learning, AI and imaging to actually create the solution. There have definitely been challenges along the way, but having confidence in my abilities and leaning on my support system gives me strength to plow forward. That’s where persistence becomes critical, my team and I constantly remind ourselves of our purpose and are always looking for new solutions to every challenge we face along the way.
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?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. As of 2016, an estimated 24% of Americans had some form of cardiovascular disease, and according to statistics from the American Heart Association, that number is predicted to rise to an overwhelming 44% by 2030.
In recent years we have witnessed an increased adoption rate of imaging technologies by the healthcare industry. This rapid increase is warranted as various studies linked the use of imaging examinations to improved patient outcomes. However, the subsequent demand for medical image interpretation skills emerges as a challenge, causing an enormous increase in workload for clinicians, leading to a dangerous backlog and burnout of practitioners. This time pressure can no longer be compensated for by minor improvements in the current standard of manual analysis. Furthermore, other challenges become more prevalent including disagreement among experts, diagnostic error rate, and a shortage of professionals.
How do you think your technology can address this?
To help combat these issues, the team at Dyad Medical created the Libby® platform. Libby® is a complete 3D/4D cardiology multi-modality medical image interpretation software platform. It is designed to provide visualization and analysis through a single interface for four primary cardiac image modalities (IVOCT, Echocardiogram, CMRI, CT). It is a cloud-based software that is scalable and accessible from anywhere, on any device. Analysis results are available 24/7/365, not limited by time zone or office hours. The use of AI provides a high level of accuracy and speed increases hospital efficiency. Plus, it is applicable to both research and clinical applications. Libby® is also able to detect subtle or complex patterns that are not visible to the human eye, thus making the analysis more accurate.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
My son was born with a heart defect. Immediately after his birth, a Cardiologist came to us drawing a heart on a napkin (as if new and young parents understand anything at this stressful moment) and began describing the problem by saying, “In his opinion… ” Our immediate reaction was, “What do you mean in your opinion?” From that day on, we always wanted to combine our technical expertise to come up with a solution that will improve communication with parents/patients, improve certainty in diagnosis etc.
How do you think this might change the world?
Half of the world’s population has very limited access to high-quality diagnostics. For example, a single hospital in Boston, which has about 700,000 residents, has 126 radiologists. Liberia, which has a population of around 5 million, only has 2 radiologists. Quality healthcare just isn’t accessible for everyone, so we knew something had to change.
We designed our technology to be scalable and easy to implement into existing workflows, so cardiologists don’t have to change how they operate. With its easy implementation and cloud-based software, cardiologists will be able to access this technology from anywhere in the world. This technology significantly reduces the amount of time it takes for a cardiologist to analyze images of the heart from around 6 hours to less than 5 minutes. The AI this system is built around can also help cardiologists make more accurate diagnoses.
Ultimately, the patient gets a higher level of care with less travel, more time spent with the doctor, and an accurate diagnosis all at a lower cost. This will help make quality healthcare more accessible.
Our biggest potential drawback is the loss of the human factor. To be clear, it will take an extremely long time, if at all, before a human can be removed from the treatment decision loop. Although the AI-based decision-making software is very reliable and continues to improve, it is extremely important to remain careful and avoid having a blind trust.
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.)
- To start, you must identify a real problem that requires a solution. Do not develop a solution and then look for the problem it solves.
- Study the field and be familiar with others who tried to solve the problem. Why have they failed or succeeded? Then make sure you do something different or better.
- Always keep the end-user in mind. How will the user utilize your technology? Will it be easy to implement or adopt?
- Assuming you would like to raise money from outside investors, learn the ins and outs of these potential investor organizations as if you are looking for a position in that organization. Be familiar with the way they think, what their goals are, who they are as people and how each is positioned within their organization. It will streamline the process of raising money.
- Spend a lot of time thinking about how you approach the market. This is a key to convincing yourself and investors alike that end-users are willing to pay for your service or product (obviously, if you can have some revenue, it is ideal to convince anyone that you are solving a real problem).
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?
Be bold. Don’t be afraid to seek help and learn from others. Be cautious and learn to avoid self-appointed “experts.” It’s easy to spot them after a while.
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. 🙂
Without a doubt, I’d love to have lunch with Jeff Bezos.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Our work and our product updates are posted regularly on our website, dyadmed.com. Readers can also stay up to date with our work by following us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.
Health Tech: Dr Ronny Shalev On How Dyad Medical Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellne was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.