Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Nóra Radó is the Editor in Chief at The Medical Futurist magazine, the online publication about current and future trends in digital health & technologies. She loves going after stories in every spectrum of digital health, raising questions and listening to people. She is working with Dr. Bertalan Meskó, The Medical Futurist to help fulfill their vision to make the lives of patients and medical professionals better with the help of digital technologies. She’s a meticulous and idea-driven freelance editor as well as a scrupulous and driven translator working with marketing, business, international politics, media, history and art texts, and the English, German, French and Hungarian languages. She received an MA both from Central European University and Corvinus University of Budapest.
Nora, what does your current job role entail?
As Editor-in-Chief, I’m responsible for the entire content flow of The Medical Futurist magazine and beyond – from the titles through the illustrations until the last comma. We have a small editorial team, so that also means I’m a journalist, an editor, a content strategist, as well as a researcher. I’m working closely together with other writers, graphic designers, IT specialists and of course the core team, Dr. Meskó and Rozina, our marketing guru. I love the fact that every member of the team has to work in many different functions at the same time so we truly gain a broad knowledge across fields and various genres. Moreover, every member of the team has a different background and way of thinking, so everyone can bring in many aspects.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
For every quarter, the team determines the most significant project to work on while every team member has their own pet project. This quarter, our most important project is the Ask Me About Digital campaign. Throughout our research with The Medical Futurist Institute we found that many patients are Googling their symptoms, use health apps, sensors, and wearables, but in the majority of cases, they don’t bring them to their doctors because they don’t know whether the physicians would be open to a conversation about digital tools. So we designed a badge and pin for medical professionals informing patients when they are using digital health tools and they are open to bringing the patient-doctor communication with such technologies to the 21st century. We already dispatched more than 500 badges to every corner of the world, and we are eager to spread the world.
In the personal front, in the first quarter of the year, I focused on a report from the digital republic, Estonia, and what the future might bring to the tiny Baltic country very well-versed in health technologies. However, I’m always eager to bring in diversity and women’s health issues to the front of the magazine, so my next personal project will definitely center around the trends and issues in communities with strained resources and less voice as they should have.
How has your career progressed since your degree? Has it been an easy industry to get into or have you had many challenges?
I cannot say I have a straightforward journey which directly led to the health technology industry. I graduated from Central European University in Budapest from international relations and European studies. I was always keen on working as a journalist and to work for the public good, thus after a couple of twists and turns, I ended up at the Hungarian news agency’s foreign affairs desk for some years. Although I learned a lot about writing, as the Hungarian government tightened its grip around the media, I decided to leave.
At the same time, serious health issues came to the surface in my family, which turned my attention naturally to the health scene. That was the moment when Dr. Meskó found me with the offer to work in his team as he needed someone with writing skills and creativity. Although I told him that I’m so far from life sciences as sunshine from the far side of the Moon, he told me that I would be perfect to explain to a wide audience what’s happening in health technology so I accepted the challenge.
At first, it was really tough. I didn’t understand a word, I had to ask too many questions, I had to work through strange concepts and get to know too many things at once. But I’m naturally curious person and it turned out that I found the mission I was longing for – to do something for the greater good – here more than anywhere else. And of course, by now, I can navigate in the health tech world much better and I’m always eager to learn more.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
I graduated in 2011, so it took me eight years to finally get on the path I would like to be on, but it’s never final and life can always bring many new twists and turns. Ten years ago, if you said I would end up in health tech, I would have said you must be joking.
What was the biggest obstacle?
In my case, I believe the biggest obstacle to success has always been myself: self-doubt and my urge to create something perfect before showing it to the public, waiting too much all along, not realizing that something will always be there to perfect and there won’t be anything without tiny mistakes. With this inclination, it is easy to become prey to an environment which discourages you from taking steps. Luckily, with The Medical Futurist, it is not the case anymore.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
I come from a small village in Hungary and I was the first in my family to go to university, so one of my biggest achievements is to receive my Master’s degree from an American university. I consider it another huge success that together with my family members we could fight an ugly disease and contain it. I believe that matters of health and fights against conditions could be in many ways life-changing and sometimes more important than professional milestones.
On the other hand, I consider it another huge achievement that I could switch from international relations to health technology and I have been the Editor-in-Chief for The Medical Futurist for three years.
What does the #WomenInTech movement mean to you?
I believe it is a wonderful and eye-opening initiative. I’m always stunned by the lack of women in technology and the lack of diversity in general. How is the industry supposed to offer solutions for problems on a wider level if they don’t take into account the needs of huge communities?
I think the #WomenInTech is the first step towards diversity which could also bring with it the representation of other less powerful groups as well. I believe it has the power to create a secure environment for women to put forth their talents which would otherwise perhaps get lost in less nurturing settings. This, on the other hand, could give a boost for other minorities and groups who are in need of more representation.
What are the challenges of being a woman in health tech?
The biggest challenge is not being listened to, not being heard and thus, not being taken seriously – just as in other parts of the technological universe. What everyone needs to understand is that women can bring in a different perspective into technology – what is especially important in health technology since care is basically a women’s field. At most homes, women are the main healthcare decision makers – they are the ones who buy medicines, medical tools and make decisions. Not to mention the fact that they make up over 70 percent of the healthcare workforce.
If it is so, how come the majority of health tech leaders are men and the majority of decision-makers – investors, regulators, VCs - in the healthcare field are still men? I believe that one of the reasons is that of course caring for another human being requires a completely different mindset, much more empathy and much less competitive edge than leading a company. And that’s alright, but the field would be much more successful in treating diseases and in truly listening to patient needs if there were more women leaders. I hope we’re heading into that direction.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders, entrepreneurs, and designers in this industry out there?
Be brave and bold. I am someone who’s always followed by self-doubt and I always have to double-think whether what I’m doing is good and what I’m doing is the right thing to do. That takes up a lot of energy and time – luckily less and less. I would encourage every female founder, entrepreneur, and designer not to follow my example and just do what their instinct tells them to do – and don’t listen to the (perhaps) discouraging voices in their environment.
I read somewhere that behind every strong woman there’s another strong woman proofreading their emails. I love this saying! Another advice I can give: rely on the power of the female community – as it can give a lot of encouragement to do what you are supposed to do.
In your opinion, what will be the key trends in the health tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
We can already see numerous trends but I’ll highlight the three most important. In spite of the initial challenges in implementing artificial narrow intelligence to health problems in practice, within five years, the application of AI will start to reshape healthcare as we know it. It will take over many tasks that medical professionals are doing now and transform what it means to be a physician.
The other most significant change is that instead of patients going to the doctor, to the hospital or emergency room when they have symptoms, they will become the point of care. Portable diagnostics, telemedicine, virtual reality, and many pocket-sized monitoring devices will bring healthcare to patients wherever they are – and not the other way around. Instead of bulky devices, we will use increasingly tinier tools – until we’ll get to digital tattoos, for example. Perhaps, that won’t happen in the next 5 years but we will go down that path very soon.
Another key change that I see in connection with the former is the spread of health chatbots and voice assistants that could become the first line in primary care. You can already use your Amazon Alexa for various health-related issues, and this will spread around to every corner of the world. In the upcoming years, we will see that when a patient will experience symptoms the first step will not be to turn to their doctors but consult their symptom checkers, chatbots or voice assistants. Only after that would they go to a medical professional.
We are truly living exciting times and these will be turbulent changes for which we have to prepare. That’s what we would like to help with – because technology is just an instrument, we should set its path. And we should set it right to always include empathy, compassion and the human touch.
Who are your three inspirational women in health tech?
I’m following Christina Farr, CNBC’s health journalist as her work is cutting-edge, inspiring and always spot on. I admire her great journalistic and reasoning skills and of course the cat photos/videos that she shares on Twitter 😊
I recently had a great conversation with Bonnie Roupe, the founder, and CEO of Bonzun, a “virtual midwife”, a great health app that can help women through their pregnancies and recognize early when they have some health troubles. She aims to bring the technology to communities in need in various developing countries and her work is truly inspiring.
And finally, Jennifer Doudna, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. She’s the name behind CRISPR, the gene editing method that’s going to revolutionize healthcare as we know it. She seems to me as a dedicated, hard-working woman. I read somewhere that in the first year of university, she wanted to switch her science major to French because she was questioning her abilities – which makes her very relatable for me. As we can see, it is great that she stuck to science, after all.
Linkedin: Nora Rado
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.