Q&A with Dan Vahdat Founder and CEO of Huma
Dan Vahdat is the Founder and CEO of Huma, the award-winning digital health company that helps people live longer and fuller lives.
Huma uses digital biomarkers, machine learning, and real-world data from remote patient monitoring to create ‘hospitals at home’ and power decentralized clinical trials. Huma’s award-winning disease-agnostic technology has helped double clinical capacity and reduce readmission rates for COVID-19 across the UK and Germany while transforming healthcare and research.
Last year, Huma raised $130 million with the support of Bayer and Hitachi venture arms and partnered with AstraZeneca to accelerate their technology. Huma has an impact across a network of 27 million patients and supports more than 3,000 hospitals and clinics with over 1.8 million active users.
Dan is an award-winning innovator in the fields of science and technology, having pursued a PhD in Bioengineering at Johns Hopkins (US) and Oxford University (UK) before leaving to focus on Huma’s mission to help people live longer, fuller lives.
Before our digital roundtable with Dan on Wednesday, 22 June, we held a short Q&A to give you a snippet of his extraordinary journey.
Can you describe a work situation where you persisted and succeeded despite major challenges?
At the start of the pandemic, we recognised the crucial role technology could play in helping healthcare systems manage and care for the rapidly growing number of patients with Covid-19. We had to think fast and pivot quickly, adapting our existing technology to meet the needs of the crisis. The UK government tasked us with developing and deploying our Covid-19 virtual wards platform within about two weeks, a challenging but necessary timeline. Our team pulled together and succeeded, building a non-profit platform that would help save lives and take some pressure off clinical teams. Our platform was shown to almost double clinical capacity and reduce hospital readmissions by 36%.
We had to think fast and pivot quickly, adapting our existing technology to meet the needs of the crisis.
How have you managed the tensions between financial pressure, patient experience/quality and safety?
Patients have always been and always will be our priority. They are at the centre of everything we do. We are fortunate to have investors that believe in our mission and support us so that we have the freedom to focus on making our technologies as intuitive and enjoyable to use as possible. We can build the best system in the world, but if patients don’t want to use it, there’s no point. We’re incredibly proud of the high adherence, participation and retention rates we have recorded and we were honoured to be selected as a finalist in The Most Important Healthcare Design of 2021 by FastCompany.
You are a big advocate for collaboration in healthtech and the positive impact it can have on populations’ wellbeing. What do you look for in a successful partnership?
Our mission to help people live longer, fuller lives depends on global collaboration, not competition, and we’re committed to sharing the knowledge and evidence we gain with others to support more proactive, personalised patient care on a global scale. We look for innovative partners who share this approach and who are also aligned with our purpose of harnessing technology to create a world in which everyone can live their life to the fullest and receive the best possible care and treatments. Our partnerships with AstraZeneca, 20+ NHS trusts, Bayer, Smith+Nephew and many others are allowing us to impact a network of 27 million patients and everyone we work with believes in the power of technology to transform healthcare and research for the better.
Our mission to help people live longer, fuller lives depends on global collaboration, not competition.
What are your learnings from raising funds in different stages of your business? And how do you think entrepreneurs could prepare best for their upcoming fundraising rounds?
Fundraising is challenging and takes a huge amount of work. You need to have a great team around you, believe in what you’re doing and be clear about why you’re doing it. Investors will see that belief and passion and those who are truly the right fit for your organisation will support you. Be prepared to showcase what you and your team have achieved so far and your vision for where you want to go.
Stay focused on your purpose and mission and the right investors will join you.
What are you most proud of as a leader, and why?
I am most proud of the team of passionate, purpose-driven people we have built here at Huma. Everyone works incredibly hard to continuously scale and develop our technology so that it can truly make a difference to patients and clinical teams around the world. This was particularly evident when we were pivoting during the pandemic to create our not-for-profit virtual ward platform. I am so proud of the team for the work they put in to make that happen.
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