Member Spotlight: Bettina Experton, CEO and Founder of Humetrix

Rachael Watson

Starting out as a physician in France, Bettina Experton, M.D., M.P.H. never pictured herself as a global tech entrepreneur. A trailblazer in the world of digital health, today she’s the CEO and Founder of Humetrix, where she pioneered consumer-centered mobile platforms that provide enhanced patient safety, care coordination and cost control.

As a physician, Dr. Experton saw the challenges posed by traditional health care approaches to both patients and providers and decided to use her medical and software development skills to address them. In a conversation with CTA, Experton discusses her evolution from physician to entrepreneur and shares her learnings as a leader in health care technology.

What led to your transition from physician to tech entrepreneur?

In France, I trained in a sub-specialty of internal medicine, and my thesis on the potential immunological basis of lymphoma was awarded a prize that included spending a year abroad in America. I was thrilled to spend time at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where a lot of research in my field was taking place. After that, while waiting for my residency to be licensed, I earned a master's degree in public health with classes in computer science. It really opened my mind to what technology could do, especially on a large scale.

Being in America, where you can do anything when you apply yourself, the entrepreneurial bug came to me pretty quickly. I decided to merge technology and my medical background to develop my first piece of software and form my first company. Eventually, that’s how Humetrix came about. Humetrix stands for Human Metrics – it’s software to help humans.

What challenges have you seen in the digital health space, and what are some of the trends you’ve observed?

I think the biggest challenge we face is overcoming the status quo. Bringing digital technology to health care means introducing new tools and practices. You are trying to disrupt and help, not disrupt and disturb.

The most exciting trend in this space is the ‘consumerism’ of health care, which implies the patient is an active participant in health care, not a passive actor. We’re providing access to information and tools to allow you to exercise judgement and choice.

And new regulation is building on this trend. For instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are calling for delivering interoperability via the consumer and giving patients access to their information. It’s a commonsense approach, since almost everyone now has a smartphone in their pocket that can run sophisticated software. We can provide personalized knowledge that an individual can bring to their physician, who can better manage their care.

You serve as a board member in our health and fitness technology division. Can you tell us about your participation?

CTA is a powerful organization that brings together companies developing consumer-based technology that will transform health care. As CTA members, even small, entrepreneurial companies are given a platform, a voice. For example, I had the chance to testify before Congress as a CTA member and help draft legislation that eventually became the Mobile Health Record Act.

Moreover, participating in CES year after year has been a tremendously beneficial for Humetrix to be able to showcase our technology. Stakeholders who play critical roles in the regulation of health care attend CES and it is a place for everyone to gather and transform health care through technology.

Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs just starting out in digital health?

You need to understand what it means to be a patient and how the health care system works. If you don’t have any medical experience, hire or partner with people who do. You must also understand the complex life of a patient, going from one physician to the next and managing a disease over time. When it comes to digital health, make your products user-friendly for both patients and physicians.

It's a complex environment and you have to navigate a regulated framework and be able to partner with those regulators. It’s a partnership – and that doesn’t happen overnight.