The Bowdoin Group's CEO Dave Melville Featured in "Ultimate Guide to Hiring" Chief Medical Officers

Posted by The Bowdoin Group on January 26th, 2021


Great chief medical officers are the real unicorns

January 26, 2021 — The Bowdoin Group’s CEO and Founder, Dave Melville, was featured in an op-ed titled “Your Ultimate Guide to Hiring Doctors into Digital Health,” published in Second Opinion, a bi-monthly deep dive into the latest health-tech news and trends. In the article, Dave discusses his experience hiring Chief Medical Officers and the phenotype you’ll see with a sales-focused CMO.

Ms. Farr is a San Francisco-based health-tech investor with a background in journalism and is currently a principal at OMERS Ventures based in the Bay Area. Previously, she was a writer and frequent on-air contributor for CNBC, Fast Company and Reuters News, among other publications.

Read the entire article from Ms. Farr on “Your Ultimate Guide to Hiring Doctors into Digital Health,” or check out the below excerpt:

One of the most challenging hires any digital health company can make is a chief medical officer (CMO). Founders tell me that finding the right person for the role can truly be a ‘make or break’ moment for their business. CMOs are the true unicorns.

In light of that, I’ve been spending the past month digging into this topic. I’ve been asking questions to founders, recruiters and other experts about the optimal background of a CMO, and how they can work with other teams within the organization. And of course, I talked to plenty of CMOs (note: for the sake of clarity, I’m not talking about chief marketing officers).

Here’s a summary of what I learned:

1. Not all CMO jobs are the same

So let’s break it down. There are lots of different flavors of CMOs. Some are driving product development and might have a background in tech. Others are more focused on clinical operations or sales.

Some CMOs report to the CEO; others to the chief product officer, COO or head of sales. There’s a wide variety out there. Some CMOs will tell you it’s extremely important to define the reporting structure. Others say it doesn’t matter as long as they have the ear of all of the key opinion leaders. Overall, the preference of most of the CMOs I talked to is to report to the CEO.

According to Accolade’s CMO Dr. Shantanu Nundy, these are the four major types of CMO roles he tends to see in digital health:

  • CMO Product
  • CMO Sales
  • CMO Clinical Operations
  • CMO Optics

I’ve been told the rarest type is a clinical leader who can also drive product development. And that presents a problem in digital health because a lot of start-ups want to hire them, so there’s a big competition for talent.

Some notable examples of ‘CMO Product’ in our industry: Dr. Connie Chen at Lyra runs product. Likewise, Accolade’s Dr. Nundy spends most of his time on product and strategy – and he reports to the head of product. Livongo’s longtime CMO and president Dr. Jenny Schneider is another product powerhouse.

‘CMO Sales’ is more common. But if the product is regulated, exec search firm Bowdoin Group founder Dave Melville says it’s highly unlikely or advisable that you’d see clinicians embedded into sales.

You might be wondering about the last of the four – ‘CMO Optics.’ These folks, according to Nundy, are often trotted out to conferences or to give presentations to make the organization look good. They typically have amazing credentials and aren’t usually as involved in the day-to-day operations.

Of course, you’ll also find examples where clinicians sit entirely separately from the business team. That’s very common within telemedicine companies. Sometimes, at these start-ups, the medical care will be outsourced to a third-party firm that contracts with providers.

You might also find CMOs who are involved with a mix of all of the above! But most will lean to spending more time with one team or another.

Read the full story on “Your Ultimate Guide to Hiring Doctors into Digital Health” here.

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