Health Evolution | March 2, 2022
Priya Abani took the helm as chief executive of AliveCor in 2019 to lead the company’s AI-driven consumer subscription service for cardiovascular care.
Prior to joining AliveCor, Abani served as General Manager, Alexa Voice Services at Amazon, where she led production, engineering, developer experience and technical enablement of the voice-based technology. She also worked at Intel in customer enablement and solutions integration.
Health Evolution interviewed Abani about her leadership principles, how the company is expanding its digital subscription program, what existing and prospective clients should expect in the next 18-24 months, and more.
What is AliveCor’s origin story?
AliveCor was founded in 2011 by physician and inventor, Dave Albert, MD, when he devised a way to create a portable device that could pair with a smartphone and deliver an FDA-cleared, medical-grade electrocardiogram anytime, anywhere. Since becoming CEO in 2019, I have built on the strong foundation established by the AliveCor team by leading the development of new product and service offerings to advance our mission of saving lives and transforming cardiology.
What should prospective clients expect in the next 18 months? The next 2-3 years?
AliveCor is continuing its evolution toward becoming a provider of end-to-end cardiac solutions worldwide. In the near term, we are achieving this by integrating our Kardia devices and services across the health care delivery continuum in key following ways.
We are expanding the features of our digital subscription program, KardiaCare, helping patients track and manage their heart health outside the doctor’s offices. Today, almost 140,000 people use the program, which gives them access to ECG reviews by board-certified cardiologists without leaving their home.
We’re advancing disease and safety monitoring solutions through partnerships with Clinical Research Organizations (CROs) and biopharma companies to provide remote capture of real-time, medical-grade ECGs, helping to monitor the risk of potentially dangerous medical side effects.
We are leveraging our digital health capabilities to develop a new PEPM cardiac health solution for people with early or established arrhythmias and/or hypertension. Our offering, which will launch in early 2023, combines digital health solutions with virtual cardiologist coaching in an aim to improve patients’ ability to monitor their own heart health and reduce the economic burden of heart disease.
Which accomplishments are you as a CEO most proud of?
I have never worked with a more dedicated team, so there is no shortage of accomplishments to take pride in. But I am most proud of our work over the last year to significantly expand our range of heart health services for patients, providers and payers.
In 2021, two major milestones helped integrate our Kardia devices into clinicians’ workflows. First, we launched AliveCor Labs, an independent diagnostic testing facility (IDTF) which offers US healthcare providers a full suite of enhanced, reimbursed cardiac monitoring services, including access to real-time data to help inform clinical decision-making. Then, we partnered with Epic to make KardiaMobile 6L the first-ever personal ECG device available on Epic’s App Orchard Marketplace for hospitals, health systems and providers.
We also lead the industry in form factor innovations, and our most recent milestone in this area is the introduction of KardiaMobile Card, the first and only credit-card-sized personal ECG to be cleared by the FDA, which we launched earlier this month to make it even easier for patients to obtain medical-grade ECGs in real time. This innovative hardware also comes with KardiaCare, AliveCor’s heart health service that offers a suite of advanced features to help customers better manage and understand their heart health. With the launch of our Advanced Determinations last year, we offer the only personal ECGs on the market that can detect six of the most common arrhythmias.I am also thrilled that last year the FDA granted 510(k) clearance for health care professionals to use KardiaMobile 6L to calculate patients’ QTc interval. This use was permitted under an emergency use authorization during the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed HCPs to monitor QT prolongation in their patients. Now, with regulatory clearance, we are partnering with leading biopharmaceutical companies that market medicines to monitor and potentially reduce the risk of QT-prolongation side effects.
What is the most difficult challenge you have overcome on the road to success?
Leading AliveCor during the pandemic has been the greatest professional challenge. It crystallized for me not only what I needed to focus on to get AliveCor and our customers through this period, but also the most important leadership principles that would guide my tenure as CEO.
First, health tech is a dynamic market and there are always shiny new objects appearing on our radar. I need to be clear on where to dig in my heels and make longer-term plans based on what will best serve the company in years to come.
Second, as the pandemic continues, I believe that team building is more important than ever, in whatever form works for your team. And, to my earlier point, keeping our mission and vision front and center no matter the work stream or project is a great way to keep your team motivated and in lock step.
Lastly, in life, we need to set boundaries between work and our personal lives, and the same holds true at work. When I need to dedicate time to work out a problem or complete a task, I let my team know I won’t be available to them (and when I expect to resurface). I honestly expect them to do the same. It’s the only way we can win in the long run. I have found that this helps me manage expectations and reclaim my schedule.
What advice would you give to other CEOs and founders?
We all have so much to learn from each other, and I’m happy to share a few examples of what has worked for me since joining AliveCor.
CEOs who, like me, joined established companies should first start with an acknowledgement of what made the company successful in the first place. AliveCor was able to build a thriving brand in the early days of digital health by delivering the most clinically validated personal ECG solution in the world. I joined because there were significant growth opportunities to grow new services with the team, and to maximize our technology globally.
Next, you hire and develop a team that believes in your mission and shares your vision. I’m a strong believer in health equity and have been lucky to form a team to make this happen.
I am also a strong believer in giving back and in advancing not only your company, but also your industry. For me, this means helping others pursue their own successful careers in tech to help create future leaders who will continue to innovate and push the industry forward.
Lastly, I believe leaders need to be intentional about innovations and investments. We need to be clear about the specific products, partnerships and investments that will bring our vision to life, and even clearer about those projects that are distractions to the vision. Every improvement we make in the health care system requires intentionality.