Disrupting the Standard of Care for Earlier Diagnosis and Treatment of Prostate Cancer with John Bellano, Chief Commercial Officer at MDxHealth
Episode 552

John Bellano, Chief Commercial Officer at MDxHealth

Disrupting the Standard of Care for Earlier Diagnosis and Treatment of Prostate Cancer

Today’s podcast features John Bellano, MDx Health’s CCO. John shares how MDx Health  has made prostate cancer detection easier with the help of SelectMDx. He also discusses the importance of proving to the various stakeholders the value of the product through data. Tune in to my interview with John here.

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Disrupting the Standard of Care for Earlier Diagnosis and Treatment of Prostate Cancer with John Bellano, Chief Commercial Officer at MDxHealth

Episode 552

About John Bellano

John has more than 25 years of experience in the health care industry. He started his career in pharmaceuticals and transition to molecular diagnostics, where he has spent the past 20 years of his career. John is the Chief Commercial Officer of MDx Health, a molecular diagnostics company focused in the field of urology.

Disrupting the Standard of Care for Earlier Diagnosis and Treatment of Prostate Cancer with John Bellano, Chief Commercial Officer at MDxHealth transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

Disrupting the Standard of Care for Earlier Diagnosis and Treatment of Prostate Cancer with John Bellano, Chief Commercial Officer at MDxHealth was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best audio automated transcription service in 2020. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular audio file formats.

Saul Marquez:
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Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the Outcomes Racket. Saul Marquez here. Thanks so much for tuning in again today. I have the privilege of hosting John Bellano. He has more than 25 years of experience in the health care industry. He started his career in pharmaceuticals and transition to molecular diagnostics, where he has spent the past 20 years of his career. John is the chief commercial officer of MDx Health, a molecular diagnostics company focused in the field of urology. With the growing need for solutions in oncology and also ways to take a look at prostate cancer differently MDx Health is pioneering a lot of ways for early detection and treatment. So, John, such a privilege to have you here with us. I’m excited to dive into what you guys do.

John Bellano:
Absolutely. Thank you for the opportunity. It’s very good to speak with you.

Saul Marquez:
Absolutely. So what would you like to add to the intro that maybe I may have missed?

John Bellano:
Not much, really. I think that was very on target with what we’re trying to accomplish here today at MDx. So we do have a novel molecular technology and an interest in ecology. And the company really has decided to focus in prostate cancer over the past 12 to 18 months. And like I said, we have a lot of different opportunities and other types of oncology, but we’re a relatively small organization still. So I think our focus is extremely important to what we’re trying to accomplish, to bring our technology to providers, to payers and to employers.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. Yeah, and it’s a growing need. I mean, just, you know, last year alone, you know, I’m I mean, close proximity to me. Several people have detected it and also gone in for treatment. It’s very real in my life. And I know it’s very real for a lot of people listening. So before we dive into MDx health, I’d love to hear more about why you decided to get into the medical sector.

John Bellano:
Yeah, absolutely. You know, out of college, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to be doing. I had a marketing degree from a small school in Pennsylvania and actually a buddy of mine was in the pharmaceutical industry working for Johnson and Johnson. I’m very happy with what he was doing. And he was explaining to me the professional atmosphere know working with physicians, working with office staff, working with pharmacies, but ultimately, you know, bringing medication to the doctors, educating doctors, physicians about either existing medications or new medications that ultimately help people get, well, whatever it is, whether it’s oncology or infectious diseases, auto immune disorders, whatever the case is, that message of educating a physician about something new that they weren’t aware of previously that could help them make a better informed decision to help an individual suffering again from whatever they’re suffering from. That ultimately appealed to me and it stayed with me throughout my entire career. And it’s really helped me make decisions on what companies or what technologies I’d like to be a part of.

Saul Marquez:
That’s great. Yeah, just that immediate impact it could have. And you guys are doing such interesting things now with MDx Health. So what would you say, John, is a hot topic that should be on the listeners minds. And tell us a little bit more about how your organization is approaching it.

John Bellano:
Sure, absolutely. I think early detection in oncology s not necessarily a hot topic, although it should be on all of our minds, everybody’s minds. I think in prostate cancer, because it’s not a type of oncology that people are unfortunately dying from at an alarming rate, we don’t think about it as much. But certainly it is real. You know, most men, if they live long enough, will have prostate cancer. So that’s something that absolutely everybody should be thinking about. But again, it’s that early detection. Finding it early really then helps the long term prognosis.

Saul Marquez:
It does. And you guys are doing something really unique as it relates to how you test and how you provide treatment plans or at least recommendations based off of genetics and kind of that molecular level of information. Can you give the listeners an example of maybe how the organization has created results and improved outcomes or business models by doing it differently?

John Bellano:
Sure, absolutely. I mean, everybody in prostate health, prostate cancer, very familiar with the PSA test, PSA, very, very prostate specific antigen test. It’s been the gold standard for years as it relates to prostate cancer. The challenge is it’s not as specific to prostate cancer as you would like. With our SelectMDX the infirm test, they’re are very specific to prostate cancer. So with our technologies, we can kind of help that inform decision, go to the next level, help physicians, help patients with a very simple for Select as a urine base outside the position to perform in their office and give that patient and the physician as well great comfort that despite an elevated PSA, they might not have prostate cancer and you know, one most folks, it’s somewhat of an asymptomatic thing when you have an elevated PSA. You’re not going to realize your potential risk. And then we come along with Select and really help. Again, that decision helped put the patient at least that they might not have prostate cancer.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. You know, it’s a challenge. And those false positives. And what would you say is the reason you’re able to get a higher degree of confidence that there’s prostate cancer or not compared to the PSA test?

John Bellano:
Sure. No, it’s the core technology that our tests are based on. You know, it is an extremely sound molecular technology that we use to create all of our tests, at least to test that we have in the market, not to test that we’re bring to the market moving forward. And then we make sure then we take a broad approach and all the clinical studies that we do well before we launch these assays commercially to make sure that we believe the fundamental technology is sound. We’ll put on those variables to it. Now, we study that intensively, again, extensively before we launch a product. And that’s well published and documented as well.

Saul Marquez:
Now, that’s super key. And just thinking about the stakeholders in health care. I mean, we have physicians, we have hospital executives, employers footing the bill, payers footing the bill. I mean, I don’t even know how much waste happens because of misdiagnosis. Do you know? I’m just curious.

John Bellano:
Not so much waste, but our approach. No. At any time. The economics is obviously extremely important to how we think about commercializing our test. You know, so long are the days where we could just bring a test to the market and expect reimbursement for it. Payers are not wanting not just the clinical data, but, of course, the economic data that shows that if we’re going to pay you X amount of dollars for your novel molecular technology, that’s going to create a savings for us. And we certainly show that over time, which is why we’ve done and have over eighty five in network commercial contracts for our confirm. I say we have Medicare coverage for our confirm to say and very shortly we’ll have Select coverage as well for Medicare and expect the same trajectory to happen with the commercial payers as well. Again, it’s not just the clinical data. It’s the economic data and the savings that we can show to the payers over the course of time.

Saul Marquez:
I think that’s really great, John. And if you had to pinpoint where the savings comes from, what would you say it is mainly?Maybe one or two things.

Saul Marquez:
Well, you know, finding prostate cancer early. OK. And then treating it early, you know, long term savings come from just the basics. So, you know, diagnosis, prostate cancer, all the things involved in that hospital stays, medications, frequent trips to doctors offices. It’s all those things that add up over time versus catching your early treatment early. So you don’t have those enhanced complications due to something like prostate cancer.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, makes a lot of sense. And, you know, thinking about it from an employer perspective. I mean, do you really want your employees to show up to work, stress, thinking that they have prostate cancer or letting it lay without having it treated. The impact on morale, workplace productivity. You know, if you’re footing the bill for your insurance, this might be something you want. Check out as far as what tests are your employees taking? Just something to think about then, so. John. Fascinating stuff. And I mean, kudos to you and your team for raising the standard here, because it’s it’s needed from the discussion with you. It sounds like it’s much needed. Something more accurate. If you could think about one of your proudest medical leadership experiences. What would you say that is today?

John Bellano:
I don’t necessarily would say there’s one. But what I would say in general is that I’ve been very fortunate to find novel technologies in the molecular fields and diagnostics. I understand, you know, that there is a market to build from these technologies. Putting a strategy together and then building great teams of sales and marketing professionals to then take those technologies to physicians, to medical staff, educate them on these new and novel technologies, and then have them use it as a part of their practice, ultimately to improve patient care. Again, that’s kind of how my career medical started. And it continues today. So I can’t say there’s necessarily one. But when I look back, those are things I’m most proud of. Identifying technologies that have just a great need and an opportunity to serve markets that need, you know, better, better outcomes, better results. And then, you know, building a strategy and building Right. King’s men to execute on those strategies.

Saul Marquez:
That’s great. Yeah. And it’s not easy to do. Right. I mean, you need the vision, the leadership, the operations, distribution, all those things that you mentioned. And, you know, thinking about the thing you mentioned is, is the outcomes, you know, and we focused upfront on economics. It just ends up being a lot of where decisions are made. But at the end of the day, if I had prostate cancer, somebody that I loved had prostate cancer, I want something certain. You know, if I look at my bank account, I know what it says. There’s no doubt, maybe, maybe not like you need to know. And so super cool that you are able to identify and work with such a great company MDX health. Tell us about an exciting project or focus that you guys are working on today.

John Bellano:
Yeah, sure. Well, we’re constantly evolving organization to understand our customers needs more and more every single day. And our customers are really threefold or potentially even fourfold. Certainly physician payers and then patients as well. So we’re constantly evolving and constantly trying to understand the dynamics of what’s happening in a urologist office today. And it’s it’s evolving constantly because there’s a lot of consolidation right now in urology practices across this country. So because of all those dynamics and in general, you know, people are not spending as much time as they used to with their position. So the bottom line is we need to understand that and the tools and the information, meaning the results. But it’s really information that information that we’re taking back to the physician has to be actionable and they have to understand it. And that’s incumbent upon us to help them educate them and make that information actionable so they can make informed decisions quickly to then get that whatever next step is to that patient in a timely manner. So I would say that that’s why there are several things working in his organization. But I think if we succeed and we win, then we just constantly have process improvement around how we could take the information that we’re providing to these physicians and make it as simple and easy, as actionable for them to get in their hands and then make informed decisions. The course of treatment together with our patients, that’s what they want and that’s what the patient wants. And of course, that’s what the pair as long as we’re sure for sure.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. Now, that’s a great call. And so the work is important and the method is strong. I mean, the support that you guys are getting, both clinically, economically, is fantastic. You guys are veterans of what you do. We’re here close to the end of the podcast. John, I always wish these things are a little bit longer, but, hey, we got the time that we have. You’re doing a great job. So thank you for that. Right now, we’re gonna do a little lightning round, so we’re going to build a little medical leadership course and what it takes to be successful in health care today. So I’ve got four questions for you, lightning round style. And then we could conclude with a closing thought after that. Does that sound good? Sounds great.

John Bellano:
Let’s go for it.

Saul Marquez:
Awesome. What’s the best way to improve health care outcomes?

John Bellano:
Data, without question. It’s data making sure that you have the clinical data to support, you know, whatever is you’re doing. Again, the dynamics have changed in molecular diagnostics where before you use the launch. They get reimbursed for it. That doesn’t happen anymore, especially there’s just so many more novel technologies out. So I would answer. Data, data, data is absolutely the best way to improve outcomes.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome. John. I was listening to an audio book and there is a quote from Basso’s that says, If it’s about opinions, I’m always going to win. But its data then then show it to me where we were talking here.

John Bellano:
That’s great. Excellent.

Saul Marquez:
What would you say is the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

John Bellano:
Don’t get so proud and enamored with your technology because it’s only as good as it is in a doctor’s hand, because a lot of companies that have amazing technologies, but they can’t figure out how to take that amazing technology that’s complicated behind the scenes that boil it down to something that’s simple and actionable for a doctor to do something well. And I have haven’t part a couple of those organizations myself just couldn’t get get over that hump of picking complicated information. Next generation sequencing is a prime example. There’s a lot of information there, a lot of data. But how do you take that and boil it down to something that simple and an actionable for a doctor to understand and take action on?

Saul Marquez:
Well said. How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?

John Bellano:
You know, I think we have amazing relationships with our key opinion leaders around the globe, making sure we’re extremely mindful of what’s happening in their world, listening constantly to all the stakeholders that we interact with. Physicians, of course, office staff, payers, employers, key opinion leaders. We attend conferences around the world, national, regional, worldwide conferences staying relevant in the space. So it’s a bunch of different things that we do just to understand where we are today as the organization where the market is and most importantly, where it’s going over the next three or five years. And also, you know what the competitive landscape looks like for us as well, because as good as we think we are, someone can come along tomorrow and be a real strong competitor to us. And we need to obviously stay relevant and understand what that means for this organization as well.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. Yeah, and you guys are definitely committed. And, you know, the breadth and depth of kind of the coverage you guys do is serious. So what would you say is the one area of focus that drives the majority, if not all of the efforts at the Excel prostate cancer, prostate health? And I mentioned earlier, we are a company that could do a lot of different things. We have marker biomarkers and kidney cancer, bladder cancer, brain cancer. And not to say we can ignore those things, but we just have to find different avenues for those biomarkers to get to the market. But if we if we decided not to focus and I’m so happy that we did as an organization to focus in this important space of prostate cancer, then we we want do it justice as well. We’ve just be spread way too thin as a small organization. So we need to be the best that we possibly can be in prostate cancer, knowing that these other biomarkers that we have can serve the health care space as well. But look for look for partners to help us commercialize this technology. So we as an organization organization of one hundred and fifty five hundred sixty people strong, be the best prostate cancer company in the world.

Saul Marquez:
That’s amazing. I could sign up for that. And there’s and there’s so much power to clarity. Right, John? I mean, when you know what you’re after, it’s hard to get distracted.

John Bellano:
Absolutely. I mean, it’s you know, I think strategy is twofold, Right. It’s about understanding what you’re going to do, but also but you’re not going to do. So a lot of things come our way from time to time, whether it’s biomarkers for other companies with a sound strategy, you could pretty much decide in a timely manner. Yes, that’s part of the strategy. We should explore that opportunity or no, that’s not part of the strategy. And we just have to let that one go. So it takes discipline but put focus. It really, really helps and drive smart ionisation to us.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome, man. That’s so powerful. Great message, John. And that clarity is there. And I’m excited that we’re having this conversation today. Folks, if you have questions or if you want to learn more, you could find MDx health at the X Health dot com or you could just go to outcomes, rocket that health and type in MDx Health in the search bar. You’ll see a full transcript of my discussion here with John Bellano, their CCO, and along with show notes and links to any relevant things that we’ve discussed, including the different tests like confirm MDx or select MDx for prostate cancer. John, before we conclude. I’d love if you could just share a closing thought. And then the best place for the listeners to get in touch with you.

John Bellano:
Yes, sure. Absolutely. And you mentioned earlier personal history. Prostate cancer. I’m similar. You know, my uncle was diagnosed roughly two and a half years ago with prostate cancer. And, you know, I never even thought about, you know, what that means to me as far as, you know, looking after myself. But it certainly raised awareness to me, the rest of my uncles and everybody else that I come in contact. You know, that at my age, I absolutely take care yourself and do the right things. Get your peers checked as soon as you can and often as you can. And then certainly if there’s anything else they need, you know, we could be here as an organization to support you. But it starts with early detection, certainly in so many other types of cancer. But, of course, with prostate cancer as well. And folks could definitely reach me. I’d be happy to discuss what we’re doing, our initiatives, opportunities at index health. And John Bolano at M.D.X Health dot com.

Saul Marquez:
Outstanding. John. Well, hey, I really appreciate you sharing the insights and the great work that you guys are up to improve how we detect and diagnose prostate cancer. Can’t wait to share this with everybody that’s now listening. So thanks so much for for jumping on.

John Bellano:
Absolutely. Thanks for your time. Thanks for listeners time. Good afternoon.

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Things You’ll Learn

  • The importance of early cancer detection
  • How MDx Health is leveraging precision medicine to improve healthcare
  • Payers want both clinical and economic data

 

Reference
https://mdxhealth.com/