Minimally Invasive Approaches in Women’s Health
Episode 463

Kim Rodriguez, President & CEO at Acessa Health Inc. – Acessa Procedure

Minimally Invasive Approaches in Women’s Health

Offering the most comprehensive treatment option with the least invasive technique

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Minimally Invasive Approaches in Women’s Health

Episode 463

Best Way to Contact Kim:

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Mentioned Link:

Acessa Health

Minimally Invasive Approaches in Women’s Health with Kim Rodriguez, President & CEO at Acessa Health Inc. – Acessa Procedure transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

Minimally Invasive Approaches in Women’s Health with Kim Rodriguez, President & CEO at Acessa Health Inc. – Acessa Procedure was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2020.

Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast, where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes and business success with today’s most successful and inspiring health care leaders and influencers. And now your host, Saul Marquez.

Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the podcast. Saul Marquez here. Today I have the privilege of hosting Kim Rodriguez. She is the president, CEO and co-founder of Acessa Health. She’s done incredible job in the health and devices industry. Previously, she served as President and CEO of Halt Medical. Prior to Halt, she was the Senior Vice President of the Vascular Intervention Business at Spectranetics, a publicly-traded cardiovascular company acquired by Royal Philips for 2.2 billion dollars. Before that, she served in a series of global senior leadership roles across sales, marketing, therapy development and general business management at J&J, Blockade Medical and acquired by Balt International, Concentric Medical acquired by Stryker Neurovascular. Guidant Corporation acquired by Abbott. There’s a theme here, folks. If you’re in med device, you’re gonna to stick around for this one. But even beyond, because the silos are more interconnected than we think. And today we’re gonna be focused on women’s health in particular and the work that she and her team are doing at assess health. We got to change things. We got to make them better. So her background obviously is a track record of success. She received her executive MBA at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business and also a B.S. in management from Pepperdine University. So it’s incredible the work that they’re doing. We want to raise awareness for women’s health and the opportunity is large. So. So, Kim, an incredible opportunity to have you here with us today. Thanks for joining.

Kim Rodriguez:
Saul, thank you very much for the opportunity.

Saul Marquez:
So tell me a little bit about what got you into the business. I mean, you’ve had an incredible track record cam. What’s the genesis of it all for you?

Kim Rodriguez:
Sure. So I, you know, my mother was a nurse taking care of elderly and children. And as a result, growing up watching her. You know, I was in high school and enjoyed volunteering at the local hospitals and opened my eyes broadly to health care. And, you know, if you’re passionate about helping people and making a difference in their lives, working in health care can be one of the most rewarding career choices there is. I’d originally planned to go to medical school or become a physician assistant, which drove me to work in the hospital through college. And I had actually it through that experience, met some medical device sales reps in the credit cath lab, an operating room, and they actually hired me away and the rest was history. I was completely hooked by the opportunity to bring business and med tech and technology together in health care. I fell in love with what the business side of it and you know, the advancements and innovations available to change standard of care in a meaningful way.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. A great beginning story there. And you know, as you know, Kim, my home and the health care space is also med device. It totally resonated with me when you tell the story about how those reps got you and they sucked you in.

Kim Rodriguez:
Like business people in scrubs. What’s that?

Saul Marquez:
Like, Tell me a little bit more. This is interesting. I love it. And not cash. I mean, you’ve you’ve done such meaningful work and been part of companies that have been challenging the status quo. And here you are again with Acessa Health. I love to hear maybe just to level set with the listeners. What is the Acessa Health? What you guys are what are you guys focused on and why is it different?

Kim Rodriguez:
So Acessa Health is a women’s health medical device company, as we’ve talked about. And we have a gynecology driven, minimally invasive solution for women who are suffering from uterine fibroids and uterine fibroids are actually benign growths in a woman’s uterus that can be numerous and, you know, sized from a small as a blueberry to as big as a grapefruit. And they’re debilitating for women. A lot of women don’t talk about it. A lot of women suffer in silence. It’s a very large market. They actually affect 70 to 80 percent of women before 55 years of age and more women of color are actually impacted than white women. The standard of care today is a hysterectomy where you cut the uterus out or Myomectomy when you cut the fibroids out, both of which are major surgery. And so Acessa is an alternative to that. Our procedure, it’s the same day procedure. There’s no cutting the stitching, no suturing, no opioids women go home on a Tylenol. They’re back to normal activity in about three to five days. Our FDA cleared system uses heat to destroy the fibroids in a targeted fashion so we can treat each one individually. And, you know, women are getting fantastic symptom relief and again, getting back to their lives very quickly compared to what’s been available for decades.

Saul Marquez:
Well, I think it’s great. And we have to take a look at things like this. Why do entire uterus removal or even cut the fibroids. So you guys are going in and and is it radio frequency ablation?

Kim Rodriguez:
It is. Use radio frequency ablation, which heats up the tissue to a point of destroying it and it breaks down over time and then the fibroids are absorbed within the uterus over time.

Saul Marquez:
And Kim, what is the thing that causes pain? Is it growth and impingement? Is it nerve? Like what? Where’s the pain coming from?

Kim Rodriguez:
All of the above. And as well, the amount of blood that it takes to kind of feed the fibroids. So some of the symptoms include bleeding, bulk, abdominal pain, urinary frequency or pain, sexual pain, our pain with intercourse. And you know, when I say bleeding, I like to kind of come back to that for a moment. When I talk about bleeding, this is bleeding to the point of where a woman at work is sitting on a trash bag, like a lot of bleeding and really getting in the way of her ability to function during the day, take care of her kids or or be at work and not be embarrassed in the bathroom. You know, every few minutes, many of these women are admitted to the E.R. for blood transfusions and often have anemia. So and again, they’re doing all of this in in silence.

Saul Marquez:
Wow. That’s. It’s terrible. And, you know, I think it’s something that let’s take the negative thoughts out of this, the negative stigma. And it’s it’s normal. Right. I mean, it it happens. And and 50 said right? mostly correct?

Kim Rodriguez:
Women. You know, they say, you know, 70, 80 percent before 55 years of age. And it’s interesting. Why is it. You know, they don’t know. It’s you know, you’ll ask gynecologists, you’ll ask societies, and nobody really knows why and what the source is but it is a very big problem.

Saul Marquez:
Wow. Well, I think it’s great that you guys have thought about a new way to approach it. Less invasive. No opioids. I mean, all these things matter. And so tell us a little bit about how you’ve improved outcomes with this procedure thus far.

Kim Rodriguez:
Sure. So in terms of improving outcomes, you know, we’ve we’ve advanced the technology over the last decade. And with that comes, you know, training of laparoscopic surgeons on the procedure, expanding access for the procedure for women and gaining Category 1 CBT code and reimbursement for women so that women throughout the United States can have it. We actually have half the United States covered with insurance. We have a little ways to go, but we’ve made tremendous progress in that. One of the challenges with new technology is gaining not only the FDA clearance, but as well, the reimbursement. And very pleased by our team and our progress toward that reimbursement. But we do have a little ways to go to expand the access in terms of, you know, really what we’re doing is we’re providing better outcomes at a lower cost. And if you think about it, employers are benefited by this in that there are less missed days of work. And, you know, women have a quicker recovery as opposed to taking 16 weeks off. They’re taking, you know, 3 to 5 days off. Payers are benefiting from the lower cost procedure and then the episode of care over time out to save 15 months. And then physicians have a value proposition in terms of offering their patients an alternative to major surgery. So they have more options when it comes to the conversations with their patients. And most of all, of course, patients, you know, they really do appreciate keeping their uterus, maintaining the integrity of their uterus, not cutting into their uterus and getting back to life quickly.

Saul Marquez:
Now, these are these are some great outcomes, Kim and thinking about the progress that you’ve made, the FDA approval, the coverage, getting a CBT code. Where’s that gap? What’s what’s left? And you know, you said covered half of the US, what’s left for you guys to gain there?

Kim Rodriguez:
Sure. Clinical data, continuing to collect clinical data on the long term outcomes, as well as studying subsets of patients and understanding how different patients might react. You know, payers like to see randomized clinical trials compared to standard of care. They like to see large data sets and then subset data in order to make their decision to provide reimbursement coverage. And again, this patient population is commercial coverage and Medicaid. So it’s not Medicare. We’re very focused on the commercial and Medicaid group. The biggest challenge is doing a randomized clinical trial to a standard of care that is really not something people want. And so you have, you know, just ethical issues around doing that and then just patients not wanting to enroll in a randomized study. So we’re finding ways to do the comparative data either through meta analysis. We actually have a very large registry ongoing now. We’re we’re we’re comparing not in a direct randomized way, but comparing with with equal data sets myomectomy where you cut the fibroids out versus versus in Acessa. So so we are doing that and we believe that’s what’s required to get the rest of the payers.

Saul Marquez:
Wow. Very cool. And for all the payers listening today, hey, you guys and gals are doing a phenomenal job of vetting these technologies. And when you have a technology like the Acessa procedure, you know, I think it’s it’s also imperative that we think about it with our own research teams. Right? I know, you know, a lot of payers have your research facilities. You do what you do. Maybe it’s an opportunity to partner and find a way forward because I think that again, we know we talk about silos and we’ve got to work together. It’s not, you know, us versus them. So incredible work by Kim and her team there and a call to action to the payers listening. It’s a great procedure.

Kim Rodriguez:
And if I could if I could just add, I think that’s great. You know, we have 47 publications. And again, the technology itself has been FDA cleared since 2012. So it is making a huge difference to the ecosystem within health care and in terms of the payers. You know, this is something that’s going to save them money and it’s going to be better for their employers and the employers, you know, employees. So, you know, again, that call to action is to take a serious look at women’s health and the standard of care and think about how minimally invasive alternatives are important. And holding a standard of randomizing to something that is major surgery may not apply as it might in in different areas.

Saul Marquez:
I think it’s a great, great add on there, Kim. And it highlights you know, it’s not you guys didn’t just get FDA approval yesterday. You as have been at it for a while and have been very, very thoughtful about your approach. And a question that came into my mind. I’m sure a lot of listeners are probably thinking, too, it’s so you’re bleeding these these uterine fibroids. What’s the difference between that and actually doing a fibroid to me and the impact on maybe having a child after that, like, you know. Is there anything to talk about there?

Kim Rodriguez:
Sure. So we don’t have a specific indication for women who desire a future pregnancy. However, you know, so that that’s a warning in our label and we’re studying and investigating. We do have a study ongoing to look at this patient population. That’s the subset I was referencing earlier. And we have, incidentally, through our work recently published 30 patients who became pregnant post Acessa procedure. And so that’s interesting and it’s also encouraging that because today the only procedure a woman can have who wants to go on and have children is myomectomy, where you cut the fibroids out, as you’ve mentioned, the challenges is that those patients will have to go on to have a C-section because of the fear of uterine rupture due to cutting and suturing. In our publication, 50 percent of those patients delivered marginally without a C-section. So we’re encouraged, but we’re also taking our time to purposefully study this to make sure that it’s safe for women.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. Thanks for sharing that. I know. I know. I probably wasn’t the only one thinking it. So thank you for that. And what would you say you’re most proud of in your career thus far Kim?

Kim Rodriguez:
I would identifying great talent, seeing careers soar. That makes me incredibly proud. Building teams, accomplishing goals together. I’ve worked with some of the best teams in the business, including the team at Acessa Health. And and I’m just so proud of what we’ve accomplished together from, you know, launching first of it of its kind products. You know, sessa health is the first and the only laproscopic radio frequency ablation technology that’s available that has wide reimbursement coverage. I’ve been part of teams in the past where we’ve changed the standard of care from either major surgery or doing nothing to solving big problems. And then, you know, just finding new ways to attack common problems. So it’s a it’s a big answer to a question, but it really is about talent and teams and the work that I’ve done with so many great people the last 20 years.

Saul Marquez:
That’s brilliant. Thanks for sharing that. And how about a business accomplishment that you’re most proud of?

Kim Rodriguez:
Finding a way to do it all as a woman at the executive level and and balancing the family and the commitments and the things that women do and still lead teams and lead an organization and lead big change in my mind is a big business accomplishment.

Saul Marquez:
I would agree with you. Congratulations. And what’s one of the biggest setbacks you’ve experienced? What was the key learning? You get out of it.

Kim Rodriguez:
At one of my previous companies, we actually did two acquisitions in two to three quarters and our management team, you know, we worked really hard to put a very good plan together, but certainly made some missteps, and I think this would resonate with anybody who’s done M&A that, you know, you put together these deal models and then you’re driving towards these deal models. And we we overestimated how quickly we could integrate the companies together. We underestimated the importance of company culture when making the acquisition. And I learned that that culture can make or break the merger or the acquisition and the speed at which you can live into those deal models that you set up before you entered into that transaction.

Saul Marquez:
So how do you how do you measure that culture?

Kim Rodriguez:
You get to know people through the process and have to assess what the, where the alignment is and where the gaps are. And it’s kind of like a marriage in any other relationship. You’re in Right.. If you get 80 percent of it right, you can work out the other 20 percent. And if you’ve got really big gaps and big red flags, then then pause. And don’t get so excited about integrating a technology in your company. If it’s not going to work from a culture perspective, because it’s just not worth damaging the company culture to get your hands on a new product.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. It’s a great call out, you know, and a great reminder that when you do acquire, you don’t just acquire the technology. You acquire the legacy team that comes with that the engineers and beyond.

Kim Rodriguez:
And trust them and appreciate them. And, you know, they built the company that you want to buy. So don’t disregard who they are and what they bring to the table. That’s the other side of it. Many of the acquiring companies just quickly take over and and miss the magic of what the original team had done.

Saul Marquez:
Mm hmm. I think that’s awesome. A great learning. And what are you most excited about today, Kim?

Kim Rodriguez:
Well, we have a big vision. Our vision is to change the standard of care for women who are suffering from uterine fibroids. And we’re looking forward to a great year in 2020. We’ve with increasing number of women gaining access to the procedure as we work with more and more gynecologic surgeons throughout the U.S.. We’ve also been thinking about the future and how we can leverage the Acessa brand as well as the procedure that’s been developed to expand indications as we’ve talked about, as well as it being a platform technology for other applications. So there’s, you know, an incredible future here. We have a big unmet need. And I know I speak on behalf of our team that we are just so thrilled to finish up 19, celebrate and kickoff 2020 and in a bigger way.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. Lots to be excited about. And if you all are wondering how to learn more. Their web site is acessaprocedure.com. It’s a c e s s a procedure.com. You could go and learn some more. We’ll also have that link on the show notes when you go to OutcomesRocket.health, type Kim Rodriguez in the search bar. You’ll see everything there. So if you could have lunch with anybody, Kim, who would it be?

Kim Rodriguez:
There’s a bunch. Let’s see. Well, first, Jesus Christ. I’d like to talk about how he influenced humanity in the last two thousand years. And I’d have a ton of questions. You know, maybe George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I’d like to talk to them about the last decade of our government. And then for a completely sentimental reasons, I’d I’d love to chat with my father who passed away when I was younger.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. Love it. So, Kim, what is your number one health habit?

Kim Rodriguez:
An early morning routine. Good food, reflection, reading and working out. For me, it’s all about that balance of mental, spiritual and physical. I think that if I could get my day started, well, then, you know, the rest of the day is easy.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. What would you say is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Kim Rodriguez:
So as a woman in leadership, one of my mentors told me that, you know, early on as I was climbing the corporate ladder and thinking about family, you know, she said to me, shoot, she had a very big job at Medtronic and said to me that if I plan to lead at an executive level and have a family, that you have to buy time. You know, she said that, you know, the only thing you can’t get back is time. And it’s often wasted on the wrong things. So, you know, focusing my energy on what was most important was key in balancing, you know, high performance work and happy life at home. And yes, I apply today a lot of that in my life and as well with my team. You know, I’m constantly challenging the team. What are the top three things that are going to impact the business or your department or your life? And so, you know, that focus is key. And so, you know, her advice was buy time where you can. So try to work on that.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. It’s great advice for anybody listening to this podcast, buy time where you can and as a as a female health leader or a leader in general. So key to do that. Kim, this is incredible. I mean, the work that you guys are up to today, the time we’re spending today to raise awareness around women’s health. The opportunity is to change a standard of care. You guys are doing that. And and a call out to the women listening to this to just trust your intuition. You know, there’s. Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. Right? there’s there’s more procedures out there like this to help you and your health so that you could lead a happier, healthier life. So Kim, share closing thoughts with us. And the best place for the listeners could continue the conversation.

Kim Rodriguez:
Sure. So I think, you know, in terms of those out there looking to build companies, change standards of care, advance solutions like we are at assessing health, be patient, be focused. Build a great team and a corporate foundation that can thrive. And always aim, at least in health care, to improve outcomes at a lower cost. Because ultimately, that’s where we need to be in order to have innovation available. And then don’t forget why we do what we do. Our mission is for our patients and you know, that will give us the perseverance to weather whatever storm we face. Right.. So in terms of contacting me, of course, the acessaprocedure.com and then I am on LinkedIn. Kim Rodriguez with Acessa Health.

Saul Marquez:
Outstanding. Kim, again, I want to recognize the work that you and your team are doing to improve women’s health and want to congratulate you on the success thus far and and wish you success even greater success as the months and years follow. So thanks for your time.

Kim Rodriguez:
So thank you very much. Humbled by your comments and as well as your interest in our story. So thank you for taking the time.

Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.com for the show notes, resourses, inspiration and so much more.

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