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September 7, 2022

Meet Dr. Chet Robson, imaware’s Chief Medical Officer

Get to know the Chief Medical Officer of imaware, why he chose to bring his extensive knowledge to this innovative healthcare company (and what he learned playing with Fleetwood Mac).

A man who understands music has an inherent skill for rhythm, pattern, flow and harmony — all attributes not far removed from the business of healthcare. Recognizing the rhythms of human behavior, seeing patterns of unmet needs and facilitating a flow towards better health is what a successful health business does. And the goal of systemic harmony, or as close as a person can get by testing, tuning and refining the body across the span of a lifetime, is the very definition of human health.

Dr. Chet Robson, practicing physician, Chief Medical Officer of imaware and musical scholar, is a rare mind who brings both art and science to the world of healthcare. Here, Dr. Robson shares his reasons for joining the imaware team, offers a glimpse into his musical past and tells us why he sees “healthcare at home” as the key to a more accessible healthcare model for all walks of life. 

Connecting the everyday consumer with healthcare products is something you’ve done extensively. Can you elaborate? 

For seven years, I was the Chief Clinical Officer and medical director for Walgreens Boots Alliance [a global pharmacy retailer with over 13,000 locations]. I oversaw a team of people evaluating many companies, products and services for both retail consumers and digital applications. Walgreens Boots Alliance also developed some of its own healthcare products, so I worked with consumer health product development teams to create those as well. Consumer health is central to what I’ve done for the last several years. 

Healthcare is moving more and more into the consumer space. This means health products must support individuals and families with information and education, easy-to-use applications, high accuracy and integrity. 

Why did you choose to bring your expertise to imaware? 

Home testing will increasingly play a role in the spectrum of care, helping people manage conditions from a healthy state all the way to “hospital at home.” I wanted to bring my expertise to this growing area of at-home services both as a physician, and through my experience in the consumer health space. imaware has a strong clinician advisory team. What they do is extremely evidence-based and has a high degree of quality. I wanted to be a part of this company bringing that level of integrity into people’s homes. 

Think of the first time somebody said, ‘Oh, you don’t have to go to the bank to deposit a check, just take a picture of it.’ A lot of people didn’t trust it at first. But now, hardly anyone drives to the bank to deposit checks or pay bills, they just use their smartphone. Healthcare is moving in that same direction with more and more services done at home. Gradually, as more people experience this, they’ll better understand what they need to do and why they’re doing it, and they’ll become confident at doing at-home testing for their family or for themselves. And there’s so much innovation going into healthcare; I think over the next couple of years we’ll see elements of at-home health becoming easier and easier. 

Are consumers really ready for at-home testing? 

With any area that becomes more consumer-based there’s a learning curve, for sure. But we saw this with banking, for example. Think of the first time somebody said, ‘Oh, you don’t have to go to the bank to deposit a check, just take a picture of it.’ A lot of people didn’t trust it at first. But now, hardly anyone drives to the bank anymore to deposit checks or pay bills, they just use their smartphone. 

Healthcare is moving in that same direction with more and more services done at home. Gradually, as more people experience this, they’ll better understand what they need to do and why they’re doing it, and then they’ll become very effective at doing at-home testing for their family or for themselves. And there’s so much innovation going into healthcare; I think over the next couple of years we’ll see elements of at-home health becoming easier and easier. 

That being said, the idea of imaware is not to try and eliminate the doctor or any other healthcare provider. We will always have a need for healthcare providers, physicians and hospitals. We want to work in concert with providers and facilities while giving people the option to do testing from home, rather than having to be at a physical location. Having to travel creates more barriers for care. 

Can you expand on the existing barriers to healthcare? 

Some of the barriers to care are transportation, as well as the ability to simply ambulate or move. And then there’s the ability to take time off work, access to childcare, the physical distance of a healthcare setting, as well as health literacy. People have very legitimate reasons for being unable to get the care they need. And when you’re not feeling well, the last thing you want to be doing is going places and then sitting and waiting for something to happen. 

How does a person access high quality care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Because that’s when healthcare needs to happen, not just nine-to-five, Monday to Friday. 

This is how imaware can be a great solution for overcoming all of those barriers. Bringing health testing into people’s homes, when it’s convenient for them, means they can get their tests done easily. From a health equity standpoint, being able to provide these much more convenient solutions can make a really big difference. 

The other thing I like about imaware is the direction we’re going to help other businesses have a relationship with their patients; to help them connect more easily with their patient population and provide richer, deeper services of care. Lab testing falls very much in the center of healthcare — whether that’s a televisit, taking medication, or some kind of hospitalization — and imaware is in the center of serving this need. 

What would a layperson not realize about imaware? 

The primary thing is that medical evidence and clinical integrity matter, which is the heart of imaware. As much as you can talk to your neighbor or Google your symptoms, your health comes down to making important decisions. You need to turn to medical professionals you trust, with integrity about what they’re doing. This is important for both consumers and healthcare providers, because at some point you’re going to follow up with your doctor, right? At the other end, your doctor or healthcare provider is going to want to know what quality of evidence you used to get a result. 

What imaware also does is helps to create more educated interactions with healthcare providers. Now you can speak to your doctor with confidence and say, “These are the symptoms I have, I tested for this, and here are the results. What are some other things we could take a look at?” I love the name of this company because it truly helps you be aware of what your health information is now, and what you can do with this information. 

I like the direction imaware is going in to enable other businesses to have a relationship with their patients; to help them connect more easily with their patient population and provide richer, deeper services of care. Lab testing falls very much in the center of healthcare — whether that’s a televisit, taking medication, or some kind of home care — and imaware is in the center of serving this need. 

This is how imaware can be a great solution for overcoming all of those barriers. Bringing health testing into people’s homes, when it’s convenient for them, means they can get their tests done easily. From a health equity standpoint, being able to provide these much more convenient solutions can make a really big difference. 

Not to suddenly change the subject, but what is this rumor about you recording with Fleetwood Mac? 

Prior to becoming a doctor, I studied music in college and I had some really great opportunities as a musician. One is that I recorded with Fleetwood Mac; I was on their Tusk album. And for about two seasons I was also the musical director for the Los Angeles Lakers — we did a pep band. I had some pretty amazing musical opportunities earlier in my life. Now, it’s exciting to me but boring from a PR standpoint, I absolutely love classical music. I love all of these different individuals who are at the very top of their skill level, working together to create sound and energy and emotion. I just really admire the way all that comes together to create such an incredible product. 

In a way, that sounds like how you described imaware earlier.

Well, I’ve treated patients for many years. And then I’ve also had this consumer health experience. So trying to take that traditional medical knowledge and then delivering healthcare to people where they are is, I think, what I can do somewhat uniquely. With imaware, people need to have confidence that this blood testing is very high integrity, and can help inform their healthcare journey and decision making.. 

Part of the advantage of imaware is convenience, sure. But even more important is providing the information of why you’re doing the test; helping you understand how to do the test for better results, and then supporting follow up after the test the consumer knows what the results mean and what to do with the information. Those kinds of things are vitally important for people.  

Or, say something has happened — you’ve had a heart attack, have diabetes, a knee replacement, etc. Now you must live with that on an ongoing basis. Well, how can we monitor your health in a way that least interferes with life? The more we can help people get in the right places for their healthcare, but within the flow of their normal life, the better their health will be. 

I think imaware will very much help improve the lives of individual patients, and, over time, the overall health of a population. 

Updated on
June 9, 2022