Quentin Blackford officially took the helm of iRhythm as president and chief executive officer in October 2021. He’s an accomplished industry leader, bringing more than 20 years of experience scaling premier innovative medical device and digital health companies. Prior to joining iRhythm, Blackford was the chief operating officer of Dexcom, a leader in diabetes care technology. In that role, he was responsible for global operations, corporate strategy, and expansion into new markets, helping guide the company during a period of significant growth and transformation.
In this interview, Blackford discusses his vision for iRhythm and shares his thoughts on the future of the wearables industry.
JUMP TO A TOPIC:
- As a new CEO, what’s your vision for iRhythm?
- What attracted you to the wearables industry in the first place?
- What do you see as the future of wearables?
As a new CEO, what’s your vision for iRhythm?
QB: My vision is to be at the forefront of revolutionizing the way healthcare is handled today. Our technology allows for proactive detection and aids in diagnosis in the cardiac space. We want to be on the leading edge, which includes getting information into the hands of both patients and physicians sooner.
Typically, a person has a cardiac episode first and then goes to either a primary care physician's office or a cardiac specialist. From there, they might wear our device and potentially learn about a breadth of health issues. We see a movement away from traditional Holter monitoring to patch technology and want screening to take place much earlier in the care pathway, ahead of an episode.
There's also a near-term opportunity to open up channels like Medicaid, for example, so we can reach significantly more people who need access to this type of technology but can't afford it. In our core market, less than 25% of the population is using the technology. Beyond that, my goal is to truly turn this into a global organization. I believe the value of the technology we realize today in the US can also be realized internationally.
How do we move towards Zio being the standard of care? We stay focused in the core business, build out a presence in the specialty areas, expand our partnerships like we have with Verily, and build a phased roadmap for rollout in different countries globally.
From an employee perspective, I love seeing people achieve more than what they ever realized was possible. As I think about building on our teams, it's all about putting the right people in the right positions to go accomplish their dreams. With the opportunities that sit in front of us, we’re going to see a lot of amazing things from our people.
What attracted you to the wearables industry in the first place?
QB: More than anything, I’ve been attracted to this space in healthcare to change the lives of as many people as possible — millions, if not billions of people. I'm convinced that technology isn’t far away from being able to do that.
I want to be involved in the expansion of access to care. There are so many folks who don't have access and I think we have a responsibility on a global basis to find a way to get these sorts of technologies to the market more broadly. This is something I'll champion strongly.
Ideally, we’ll prevent downstream medical episodes. Consumer technology has already moved to the point where we can put much better information into the hands of the patient earlier. We need to do the same with medical-grade devices; that is, educate and make people aware of what’s available. Then, get the costs down to a level that lets the masses of the populations have access to it.
What do you see as the future of wearables?
QB: The pandemic has accelerated and helped the move into the wearables space. Monitoring patients remotely has become more appealing to physicians and payers.
Now, the question is, how do we elevate the value around what we're monitoring and expand to make it more meaningful. Ultimately, I envision a future where we’ll see the ability to reduce the downstream costs by more proactively measuring, monitoring, diagnosing, and detecting sooner.
Learn more about the Zio by iRhythm ambulatory cardiac monitoring solution.