Elevating healthcare one venture at a time: A conversation with an award-winning Product Manager

Delve into the achievements of our product manager, Ioanna Papakanderaki, recognized for her outstanding contribution to the health sector, as she shares her experience in building the MVPF venture, Third Nature.

“Ioanna stands out as a distinguished professional in the realm of health tech - her work for Third Nature, an educational platform encouraging women to navigate their hormonal health journey, reflects a deep commitment to leveraging technology for positive healthcare outcomes.” 

Senior Product Manager at MVP Factory, Ioanna Papakanderaki, was recently awarded the Outstanding Leadership Award at the Health 2.0 Conference in Dubai. To understand what this symbolizes and celebrate her win, we sat down with her for a conversation revolving around: 

  • Her experience in the healthcare industry and the journey of building Third Nature from the ground up,  
  • The biggest learnings when innovating in the care industry and the three main success catalysts,
  • How corporates can incorporate customer data to craft a successful health tech solution.   

Aakriti: Congratulations, Ioanna for this accolade! Let’s start - can you introduce yourself and your journey at MVP Factory?

I am Ioanna Papakanderaki, Senior Product Manager at MVP Factory. I have been here for over a year now, and can I say what a journey this has been?

Having worked before with big corporates and trying to implement an Agile framework there, I would bring up Startups as a use-case of the Agile approach in action, compared to a more rigid corporate structure. I have always wanted to be involved in the fast-paced life and help new founders and entrepreneurs build user-friendly products - a year later, here I am at MVPF empowering companies to adapt digitization and enable innovation.

Aakriti: Please tell us more about the Health 2.0 Conference, the award, and what it signifies.

The Health 2.0 Conference promises to bring together prominent experts from various specialties through the health space and highlight the latest developments by recognizing forward-thinking individuals and companies. 

For the “Outstanding Leadership” Award in the Health 2.0 conference, all nominees were judged on 5 parameters: Leader's Reputation, Achievements & Accolades, Professional Experience, Creative Thinking, and Decisive Leadership. 

While I truly believe that having your team members praise your leadership skills is the best reward that one can have - being recognized for the same by such a prestigious event for a project so close to my heart not only validates my skills but also our commitment as a company to push forward innovation in all realms. 

Aakriti: Can you walk us through the process of building Third Nature and what prompted the development of a platform that revolves around women’s hormones?

Along with a big corporation, we started Third Nature’s with a noble goal - we want to empower women to know their bodies, allowing them to understand their hormones better. We wanted to build a platform that empowers women to make informed decisions on how to regulate their hormones, their imbalances, and their lifestyle.

It has been a challenging and exciting journey, but my team and I managed to set it up for success. In the first phase, we launched a web app with expert content and community for women going through PCOS and menopause. When Third Nature was live, it reached the acquisition goal of acquiring 1k users in just three weeks, proving our hypothesis that women require verified information about their hormones and how it impact their everyday lives. 

Aakriti: Reflecting on the challenges faced when building in the healthcare industry, how did the team overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges when building any healthcare software product is data protection - we are dealing with super-sensitive information about someone’s life. 

Doing proper data management and implementing the right security to guard any system that holds that information should be a top priority for any health tech project. Implementing appropriate security in your application to protect from vulnerabilities is essential, as well as outlining a very detailed Terms of Services and Conditions so that the user is aware of how his data is being used and what are their rights. 

Aakriti: What has been your biggest learning from your experience in innovating in the care industry? What were the three main success factors? 

If I were to name three main catalysts when designing a digital health product, it would be:

  • Solve a real problem: Understanding what problem you are trying to solve and putting the user in the center of your activities is always crucial for every project. Whether it be through regular feedback, test runs, or interviews - be sure that your product is making things easier for the end user.  
  • Regulatory Compliance: If you are building a digital product in health tech, extra attention needs to be paid to the project to follow all the regulatory compliance requirements. This gets more complicated if you (like Third Nature) are building for an international. 
  • Data Security and Protection: I may be repeating myself but data privacy is and should be a top priority for the team. We are in an age where data is a very valuable asset and regulations like GDPR dictate the handling of customer information - protecting your users’ data should be at the center of technical operations.

Aakriti: How important do you think user-centricity is when building s digital solution, especially in the healthtech ecosystem?

The user is like the Sun in our solar system, everything is connected to it and should be in the center for life/ balance to be preserved - the further you are from our users and their needs, the further you get from solving their problems and building the right product.

All over the world, healthcare systems tend to be overcomplicated or require a lot of time to book appointments and find the right healthcare professional for your needs. Also accessing medically verified information in the abyss that is called the internet is very hard. 

So producing products that will make lifesize of patients or consumers easier, simplified, and easily accessible is what sets this product for success. 

To quote our founder, Philipp Petrescu,

"Innovation is about getting everyone to the table; A bottom-up approach that focuses on the needs and requirements of the end user is essential to successfully develop the right digital products and services.”

Aakriti: What would be your advice to a corporation looking to innovate in the health industry? What do you think they need to keep in mind before embarking on this journey of innovation? 

Healthcare is an open field with great room for innovation.

The companies that are already in the industry, still have a lot of room to innovate with their products and services to their customers. Whether it is providing more information to their customers or optimizing processes so that they can make healthcare a little bit more accessible for everyone - the scope is wide. 

Femtech, specifically, is a sector that is currently under the ramps. The one thing that I have noticed in all my years in the health space is that woman lack information about their health and bodies, which means that any scientific developments in that direction tend to be crucial - this makes sense because after all, we are talking about half the population of the Earth. 

So again, understanding the problems/needs/concerns of your users and simplifying the lives of your patients could bring you to developing ground-breaking and widely used products. 

Aakriti: Thanks a lot, Ioanna! Is there something else you learned or experienced that you want to share?

This award has helped me understand that the industry is becoming more and more inclusive towards women's health. While this change is long-time coming, it is significant to not divert from their need - when building digital solutions, companies should ensure that they solve real-life problems women face.

If I had to put the major success factors for any user-facing project - I would summarise them in the following:

  • User at the center. Test your product, get user feedback as much as possible, and see how well or not you are solving their problem. 
  • Security, secure your application and your user’s data. Create software that would trust with your data. 
  • Optimize Marketing Campaigns. Execute to success. Combine practices to accelerate efficiency.

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