Medtronic taps TikTok-famous physician as first chief medical officer of GI business

Amid the viral dance challenges and spot-on lip-syncing videos, a handful of physicians have carved out their own corner of TikTok. These social media-savvy clinicians use the video-sharing app to correct medical misinformation, offer peeks inside their busy lives and, in the case of gastroenterologist Austin Chiang, M.D., bust myths about colonoscopies and normal bowel function.

Since joining TikTok just over two years ago, Chiang has amassed nearly 500,000 followers and a whopping 17.4 million likes on his videos. And his platform just got bigger: As of this month, Chiang is now the first-ever chief medical officer of Medtronic’s gastrointestinal business.

In the newly created role, he’ll offer up his medical expertise to guide clinical data collection, company publications and training and support within the segment. He’ll also work to ensure patient safety throughout the development, clinical trials and post-rollout surveillance of Medtronic’s GI offerings, spanning endoscopic ultrasound, motility and reflux testing and more.

“Many of the most innovative and disruptive technologies in my field, including the first artificial intelligence-assisted polyp detection device for colonoscopy, have come from Medtronic,” Chiang said in a statement to Fierce Medtech. “I am thrilled to be joining this team to help address some of the challenges we face in diagnosing and treating patients with gastrointestinal diseases.”

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Austin Chiang, M.D.

Medtronic said Chiang, who is triple board-certified in gastroenterology, internal medicine and obesity medicine and also earned his master’s in public health from Harvard University in 2017, is believed to be the first gastroenterologist to take on a CMO role within a GI device business.

Alongside his new position at Medtronic, Chiang will continue to serve as a practicing clinician at Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health, where he’s been the director of the endoscopic bariatric program since 2018. He’ll also continue to teach as an assistant professor of medicine at the health system’s affiliated Sidney Kimmel Medical College.

As if that wasn’t enough to juggle, Chiang will also continue his work as Jefferson’s inaugural chief medical social media officer, a position he’s held for over three years. In that role, he spearheads the health system’s efforts to not only educate their clinicians and medical students about effective use of social media but also to reach patients and the broader medical community in more interactive, accessible formats.

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Jefferson, Medtronic and his hundreds of thousands of TikTok followers aren’t the only ones to recognize the power of Chiang’s social media skills. He became founding president of the Association for Healthcare Social Media in 2019, and he was nominated at the GLAAD Media Awards earlier this year as the TikTok Queer Advocate of the Year.

“My objective thus far on social media has been meeting patients where they are, and the technologies Medtronic GI is developing are working toward the same goal,” he said.