Meet a Dragon: Tabby Khan, MD, MPH
After making the leap from surgery to health tech, Komodo’s Medical Director, Tabby Khan, MD, MPH, explains how her passion for big data drives her to address disparities in healthcare.
You went to medical school and did a residency. How did you end up at Komodo?
It was a circuitous path. I enjoyed medical school and decided to pursue a residency in general surgery because I love thinking about diseases and seeing the impact I could make on patients. One of the reasons I wanted to be a physician was to impact the population as a whole; it's part of why I also got my master's in public health. I believed that the individual provider relationship, while extremely rewarding and valuable, was also limited. I quickly realized that we could address disparities in healthcare through big data.
I did a clinical research fellowship in vascular surgery after my first two years of residency. I was surprised that I didn’t miss operating and soon started exploring other opportunities within healthcare technology. I enjoyed meeting the Komodo team – especially another MD on the team here named Ivy – and believed that I could contribute significantly to the company. It’s been a little over a year, and I’ve already had such a great experience here!
Residency to health tech; that’s a big change! How is your new lifestyle different?
I didn't have time during residency to do all of the things that make me myself. I'm a super extroverted person, and I didn't get to spend time with my friends or family. I could feel the lifestyle taking a toll on my mental health. I very much believe in the mantra that you can’t take care of others unless you can take care of yourself first. I’m excited that my role at Komodo allows me to impact patients’ lives while preserving my sanity and being the best version of myself for the important people in my life.
Can you describe your team?
The Clinical Innovations/Data Insights Team plays an exciting role within Komodo, providing a clinical perspective and input into the design and delivery of our products. We have the incredible ability to define diseases that aren’t readily available in claims, whether through developing proxies or coming up with complex ways to identify diseases that don’t have ICD-10 codes. We work very closely with the Prism, Iris, and Patient Journey product managers and their teams to ensure Komodo has the most clinically informed products in the market. We also partner with the Customer Success and Sales teams to develop some of the most complex patient cohorts. We're honing in on features, like stage and grade of cancers, which are not readily identifiable. Our team is unique because we touch almost every part of the business behind the scenes.
Has your previous experience in research made you better at your job?
Yes, the constant demand required self-motivation and organization, which I’ve hopefully brought to Komodo! I was also fortunate to get the opportunity to present my data at national meetings, which taught me how to explain complex, clinical concepts in a more approachable way.
How do you see Komodo changing the medical landscape?
The sheer volume of Komodo’s data is staggering. My role at Komodo allows me to put my public health hat on to make conclusions about diagnoses and potential treatment options for a more generalizable population. I particularly enjoyed the clinical consulting work that we've done for Janssen R&D. I believe this service can provide a lot of value – especially as we design more complex cohorts. Many of the cohorts used in regular clinical research at major academic centers are super valuable but, ultimately, informed by a subset of the population. At Komodo, we have a broad-reaching dataset that allows us to draw more conclusions about patients, doctors, diagnoses, and treatments.
Are there any recent Komodo findings or studies that have surprised you or challenged your previous knowledge?
We recently did a research brief for Fight CRC, one of our patient advocacy partners, analyzing red-flag symptoms in colorectal cancer among younger and older populations. I wouldn’t say our findings challenged my previous understanding, but they encouraged me to educate my friends – especially those of color – about the disease. People of color seem to be disproportionately impacted by colon cancer, so it’s worthwhile to spread awareness. This is undoubtedly a change in behavior for me. In medical school, you quickly learn that you’re not supposed to give medical advice to non-patients; however, my work at Komodo has led me to listen more and encourage people to take more ownership of their health. I realize the value of seeking care immediately if you’re concerned about something. We all need to be better advocates for ourselves and others.
Before we wrap, I know you got a dog during the pandemic. What’s your favorite part of being a new dog owner?
I love being a dog owner! I like having someone always there, wherever I go. I like to run with him, so he’s gotten me out of the house to exercise during COVID. We’re moving to New York soon, and I’m looking forward to meeting new friends at the dog park. He definitely loves breweries and restaurants!