North America

Blink Health brings on 3 Amazon vets, Omada's CCO hails from pharma, Mount Sinai creates chief data officer role and more digital health hires

Also: Vivante Health, EverlyWell, Nurx and Facebook fill top clinical roles.
By Jonah Comstock
03:23 pm

Even as Amazon ramps up its marketing efforts for PillPack, potential competitor Blink Health is hoping to get ahead with the announcement of three new hires — from Amazon.

Bharath Chinamanthur, Blink’s new EVP of engineering and operations, spent 11 years in leadership roles at Amazon. Christopher Plambeck, who joins as SVP of data sciences and monetization, spent five years at Amazon and another seven at Facebook. And Madan Nagaldinne, Blink’s new chief people officer, has helped to scale growth at Amazon, Facebook and Compass.

“The additions of Bharath, Chris and Madan come at a crucial phase of rapid scaling and growth at Blink,” Blink CEO Geoffrey Chaiken said in a statement. “Our ability to attract these leaders from some of the best run companies in the world will accelerate our scaling and innovation and help build a path to an even better way for Americans to obtain the medications they need.”

The news comes in the wake of a Bloomberg exposé last month detailing the young company’s history of controversies and lawsuits, most of which have been settled or dismissed.

Chronic condition management company Omada Health has announced a major hire: a new chief commercial officer who hails from the world of pharma. Wei-Li Shao has held executive roles at Eli Lilly and Company for the past 18 years, leading business units around the world from New Zealand to Taiwan.

“When moving into digital health, I was only interested in joining a company that had developed a strong foundation of patient-centered technology, delivered a mature business model and demonstrated a commitment to generating medical-grade evidence,” Shao said in a statement. “Omada’s lived those values, and has spent the company’s life redefining what digital healthcare can be, and do. I couldn’t be more excited to help lead the next phase of this evolution.”

A brand new role at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City will be filled by Andrew Kasarkis, most recently the director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at the Icahn School of Medicine. Kasarkis will serve as EVP and chief data officer, a role Mount Sinai described as follows in a release about the news:

“Mount Sinai is among the first large healthcare systems to explicitly define this role to advance patient outcomes, innovation and research. Dr. Kasarskis will take the lead in driving simplification, transparency,and use of Mount Sinai’s digital assets, supporting entrepreneurial activities at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and adopting key performance metrics to determine both the impact of infrastructure improvements and the success of each data-driven project going forward.”

“The addition of this role at Mount Sinai provides an exceptional opportunity to strengthen our healthcare system’s overall data literacy and culture,” Kasarskis said in a statement. “I want everyone here to view the vast data available to us as an asset we can use objectively to improve efficiency and quality of care, identify patient cohorts for groundbreaking research, enhance the education we provide trainees through the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and add value to all of our organizational efforts.”

Dr. Alan Spiro, the gastroenterologist who cofounded digital-powered healthcare concierge service Accolade, has joined the team at Vivante Health, the Houston-based digital health company behind the gut health management platform GIThrive.

Spiro will serve in the role of senior medical advisor. In addition to founding Accolade, Spiro’s background includes leading roles at Anthem and Towers Perrin and hands-on work as a clinician.

“I am very excited about helping the Vivante team improve care and outcomes for people with GI disease and related illnesses,” Spiro said in a statement. “Abdominal illnesses represent one of the areas of medical care in which rapidly increasing costs are harming our ability to treat all who need care. Vivante is well positioned to improve care and decrease cost in this very common category of disease.”

On the heels of its $50 million funding round, at-home lab testing startup EverlyWell has announced that Dr. Frank Ong will join the company as chief medical and scientific officer.

According to EverlyWell, Ong, who has formerly worked with Guardant Health, Roche Diagnostics, Illumina and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, will be responsible for “the company’s medical affairs, clinical laboratory operations, research divisions and clinical development including new test development”.

“Dr. Ong is a highly respected clinical leader with over 20 years of experience across all facets of the diagnostics industry, from clinical research to innovative assay development, Julia Cheek, founder and CEO of EverlyWell, said in a statement. “Being at the forefront of a new category means you need the brightest, most experienced leaders on your side. We’re excited to welcome Frank to our team as we continue to educate Americans about the life-changing impact that convenient, accessible lab testing can have on their health.”

Telemedicine company Nurx — which focuses currently on providing birth control, HIV prevention and emergency contraceptives online and through the mail — has brought on Dr. Kim Boyd to serve as medical director. Boyd is a Stanford-trained physician who has held the medical director role at Galileo and One Medical.

"I believe in Nurx's mission to eliminate unnecessary barriers and provide excellent care in a way that is affordable and accessible," Boyd said in a statement. "The care that Nurx provides is life-changing for people, and it's great to be a part of a team that's committed to passionately serving patients. I look forward to continuing to support the important work that is being done while scaling Nurx's clinical team and extending reach.”

This is the latest in a string of recent hires for the company which has included CEO Varsha Rao, COO Jonathan Czaja, SVP of Legal Lina Brenner, VP of Pharmacy Dave Fong, VP of Marketing Katelyn Watson and VP of Engineering Robert Bash.

Dr. Roni Zeigercofounder and CEO of Smart Patients and ex-chief health strategist at Google, is leaving his startup after seven years to join Facebook as the social network giant's Head of Health Strategy, a position Facebook appears to have newly created.

Zeiger quietly announced the news in a post on his own blog entitled "An Opportunity I Can’t Resist." Based on that short post, it appears that Facebook's recently launched Health Support Groups will be his main focus. Read more here.

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