Ryan Hand: My Road To Tackling Healthcare’s Most Complex Issues Through Research
Ryan Hand, Vice President of Venture Insights, reflects on her career journey and how her unique experience contributes to innovation at Redesign Health.
My relationship with the healthcare industry is lifelong. It began when I was 16, through my involvement in Operation Smile and other organizations based predominantly in Africa. I initially aspired to become a doctor and work internationally. However, as an undergraduate at Cornell, I researched adolescent behavioral health, and went on to work on various grants at Cornell, Columbia University, and NYU. I realized research in the fields of global and public health not only creates significant domestic and international impact, but also offers continued learning. I feel grateful to do what I love every day — and that’s research.
My experience performing diverse research projects is uniquely utilized at Redesign Health, where I’m able to work on multiple projects across the entire healthcare spectrum. A common thread in my career – from researching behavioral health and nutrition as it relates to cancer recurrence, to researching the relation between food insecurity and autism – is my interest in the study of human behavior. At Redesign Health, I have the unique opportunity to explore what motivates patients, providers, payers and health systems to make certain decisions, and to then feed those insights into the company creation and decision making process at Redesign Health.
Building My Foundation in Academic Research
By the time I was 22 years old, I was pursuing my master’s at Columbia University. Immersing myself in academia was a critical way to learn various methodologies and appropriate rigor that are required to produce high-quality qualitative and quantitative research, while exposing me to many different populations and segments.
While conducting research part-time at Columbia, I also dipped my toes into the world of healthcare startups. Through this opportunity, I leveraged the research skills I learned in school and at previous internships, including different methodologies, diverse populations, etc. to apply them to the high-impact world of startups.
Driving Accelerated Impact in the Private Sector
I was always drawn to startup environments, which attract mission-driven individuals who are eager to learn and make an impact on an accelerated timeline. Within the public sector, many barriers unfortunately impede the pace of innovation. For example, I worked on multiple studies that were published years after we conducted and wrapped the research. In contrast, at Redesign Health, we conduct research for 8-12 weeks, and then see a near immediate impact from it. We’re able to act as strategic thought partners by leveraging the data, rather than delivering insights and walking away.
That’s what inspired me to join Parsley Health, which was still at a very early stage of development when I joined — we were a team of less than ten. My experience gave me exposure to various roles within a startup: I was working closely with marketing, research, customer experience, and everything else in between. Growing a business from pre-seed to series A was a personal accomplishment and one that fed my interest in working at early stage, fast-paced companies with a hunger for scaling.
After my time at Parsley, I was interested in working in a dedicated research role, which is why I transitioned to work at Klara. My background allowed for a foundational understanding of how to do research properly, with exposure to a ton of different projects in the healthcare space.
Eventually I received an offer to work at a new innovation platform called Redesign Health and build the insights function from the ground-up. It was the perfect opportunity to combine my experiences across academia and health tech, and would enable me to leverage all methodologies, rather than a more niche focus. I couldn’t say no.
"My experience performing diverse research projects is uniquely utilized at Redesign Health, where I’m able to work on multiple projects across the entire healthcare spectrum." - Ryan Hand, Vice President of Venture Insights, Redesign Health
Structuring Research to Redesign Health
The work my team does at Redesign Health is leveraged to make products, structure business models, inform design, GTM strategy and more. The Redesign Health model has evolved since I joined the team over three years ago, where I was initially hired as a user researcher, and my current role and department didn’t exist yet. It was an exciting challenge to work with the leadership team to decide how to best set up a data-driven insights team. That process included identifying specific systems and methodologies based on the objective at hand, determining the points in time in which we need to conduct research during the ideation life cycle, along with defining the appropriate skill sets to recruit to the team.
Today, the Venture Insights team works cross functionally with multiple teams including New Ventures, product strategy, enterprise growth, and design. Following initial diligence, our process focuses on driving strategic concept decision-making, starting by conducting original research via varying methodologies to gain in-depth understanding of prospective buyer and user experiences, unmet needs, and motivations. This research informs MVP product features and design, sizes market opportunities, and helps identify ideal targets. The output of this process forms a strong foundation for each Operating Company built at Redesign Health, ensuring that leadership understands the market need and how/where their product fits in, so they can deliver the best solution and experience possible. It’s an extremely gratifying model for researchers because the process facilitates continuous learning, and our data creates tangible change while supplementing every aspect of the company creation process.
Research performed by my team has directly informed the creation of more than 40 Operating Companies to date. Here’s a few examples: facilitating the development of Operating Companies including UpLift and Fort, we performed multiple qualitative and quantitative studies that investigated topics and solutions within mental health care. We’ve also led studies that have delved into how best to deliver collaborative care, which is essentially an integrated, preventive care model that aims to improve outcomes while reducing costly treatments and procedures that involve hospitalization.
In the future, I’m particularly interested in discovering and leveraging specific methodologies to answer complex, open-ended issues within healthcare. Our team’s goal is to keep the quality of our solutions at our high standard, while tackling more complex issues, and we take each day as an opportunity to accomplish that goal.
Ryan Hand has been working in the healthcare and research space for 10+ years, and is currently the Vice President of Venture Insights at Redesign Health. In her role, she oversees research initiatives that inform the product-market fit and help shape the solution of Operating Companies built at Redesign Health. Previously, she was a Product Researcher at Klara Technologies. Prior to that, Ryan was on the Member Experience team at Parsley Health, where she focused on landscape analyses and deep user and buyer insights by leveraging a JTBD lens to shape business, product, and G2M decisions. She started her career working at Cornell University, NYU School of Global Health and Columbia University where she focused her research efforts on topics like adolescent health, behavioral interventions focused on cancer survivors, and food marketing and corporate behavior with the goal of combating obesity and reducing health disparities.
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