NextWave was lucky to interview Trishna Saehar to understand how the world of Medical Technology has been impacted by the pandemic of 2020. Trishna is the Head of Software at Biorithm with a specialist background in algorithm development.
Biorithm is a medical signal processing company that spun off from Nanyang Technological University Singapore in late 2015. They provide remote monitoring solutions to help facilitate and accelerate fetal and maternal health. In this interview, Trishna walks us through her journey as a leader in Tech as well as how this technology has helped enable mothers to get the consultation and treatment they need.
With the pandemic shining a light on HealthTech / MedTech, have you been seeing a lot of opportunities with your product Biorithm?
Trishna: Yes, definitely! With the expansion in the Telemonitoring and the entire Telehealth space right now, during our current pandemic, a lot of hospitals are actively seeking remote monitoring solutions. This is where Biorithm has seen a lot of opportunities with our fetal monitoring solutions. It’s as simple as, a mom can sit at home and place our device on her abdomen and send it to her clinician who would get it at the end of the session. And that is her remote visit! This really appeals to a lot of hospitals and even women.
The solution can aid doctors in giving the right healthcare to their patients and making them feel safe as well as comfortable. We have validated that pregnant women have said it’s really scary going into hospitals and being exposed to CoVID when they’re pregnant. There are all these different factors at hand, so just being at home is so much better, if we can deliver the same standard of care.
Is it able to deliver the same standard of care if it’s all remote?
Trishna: Well, our solution does compliment the hospital systems currently but it’s not going to replace them. Instead, it definitely helps the process and eases it up. Think of this as more like ongoing monitoring, so there is more data coming in, there’s more insight into what’s going on with the patient and they only need to go into a physical consultation when required.
With all these changes, how does this pose a technical challenge for you and your team?
Trishna: In terms of the way we work remotely, that’s not so much of a challenge. Because we are an international team and we were already prepared for this sort of arrangement. Looking at the bigger picture, one of the bigger technical challenges is cybersecurity. This because the entire Medical Technology (MedTech) industry is shifting towards this new paradigm of virtual space and virtual monitoring. This increases the number of vulnerabilities and threats which makes it one of the bigger
challenges because we need to stay on top of things. What may have worked in January 2020 as cybersecurity measures probably would not be enough now. That is where we have to keep moving forward and staying on top of our game.
So how do you stay on top of that? Since Cyber is not your main area of expertise.
Trishna: We engage people who are experts in this. You can’t do everything yourself if you are not an expert so you engage the right parties. You do your research, you keep reading and keeping up with what’s going on in the industry, especially with cybersecurity issues that are reported through all the regulatory agencies. These are very important steps to be aware of to understand where your system could go wrong and where people could hack into it and pose a threat.
From your specialization, data, and algorithms, has that been a challenge? Or more of an opportunity?
Trishna: Yes, that hasn’t been a challenge. We are at a little bit of an advantage because Biorithm’s original solution is a remote fetal monitoring one which was already starting to be developed before the pandemic happened. Given that our team is global that hasn’t really curbed our productivity or the way we build up our algorithm development. In fact, we have been seeing much better results due to the pandemic because when you’re at home and in the zone, you can really concentrate on a lot of things!
What about personally, have you ever faced any challenges being a female tech lead? And if you have, how did you overcome these?
Trishna: I am happy to report that the question of being male or female hasn’t really come up for me in any of my jobs. This is because I’ve been pretty lucky, or maybe it’s normal, I don’t know, but I have been lucky enough to be able to work with people who respect each other and treat each other equally. The main thing is we just see each other as humans. So personally, I don’t think I’ve faced any challenges in terms of gender. One thing is that your work is based on merit. So you shouldn’t have to change your personality and redefine yourself to become more masculine or more feminine to suit and be heard by your entire team.
What advice would you give to any early-stage or aspiring female technologists?
Trishna: It comes back to working hard and letting your work speak for itself. Not trying to change your personality and it does come back to the previous question: Just do your work! Work hard. Another thing is to ask a lot of questions. In our culture right now, asking questions is kind of a taboo because of the whole embarrassment factor. You’re seen as weak but in actual fact, no one really cares and it’s not something that people will really harp on. Remember, that there is always going to be someone who is willing to help you. It may not be the person you’re reporting to, it may not be your mentor but if you’re hungry enough you will find the answer and then do your research on the answers you get. You’ll have to dig in, do your homework, and stay on top of things. Finally, coming back to your work, work hard because that’s what will really speak for itself.
The main thing is being human and remembering that other people are human as well. Don’t think that, “Oh I’m female”, so I should act differently. No! that doesn’t apply! Treat everyone equally, everyone has different personalities – so just see them like that, as a human.