Dr. Andrea Natale is the Executive Medical Director of the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas. He graduated summa cum laude in Medicine and Surgery and is board certified in Cardiovascular Disease and Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology.
Andrea Natale is dedicated researcher, pioneer, and practitioner in the field of cardiology and has done incredible work in advancing the treatment of atrial fibrillation. He pioneered a circumferential ultrasound vein-ablation system to correct atrial fibrillation and performed the procedure on the world’s first patients. He was the first electrophysiologist in the United States to perform percutaneous epicardial radiofrequency ablation, a treatment used for people who have not seen success with conventional ablation procedures.
Andrea Natale holds several patents on life-saving medical devices, including devices that are used to treat atrial fibrillation.
Throughout his storied career, Andrea Natale has received many honors including the Cleveland Clinic Innovator of the Year for several years in a row, the Frist Humanitarian Award in 2012, the 2017 Eric N. Prystowsky Advocate for Patients Award, and more recently the prestigious Star of Texas that honors one individual each year for their outstanding contribution to healthcare in the state of Texas and nationally.
Andrea Natale is also the founder of EP-Live, a conference focused on the cardiology discipline of Electrophysiology. EP-Live was first held in Austin, TX in 2021 and has subsequent events in Milan, Dubai, Bogota, and Bengaluru wiht more events being planned for the future.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I am the Executive Medical Director of the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute. It was founded long before I came to work here but TCAI was put together with the idea of providing patients with the best quality of care driven by ongoing acquisition of evidence based information to guide clinical practice. TCAI is comprised of a number of nurses, researchers, and physicians heavily involved in clinical research to define the best and safest standards of care.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start my days very early, regardless of the time zone I am in. After spending some time at the gym and having breakfast with my family, I spend several hours at the hospital visiting my patients and performing ablations. The days at work are very busy, but I always try my best to find some time to discuss ongoing and future research projects with my fellows and colleagues, even if I have just a few minutes between my clinical activities. I generally come home when it is already dark. At this time of the day, I enjoy spending some quality time with my daughters and wife, and talk about our day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Patients are my main source of inspiration. I try to spend as much time as possible talking to them and listening to their thoughts and problems. By doing so, they help me find new ideas on how to improve their life and my practice and also the answers to bring these ideas to life. Also, a structured and ongoing follow up of every procedure we perform helps to identify issues that can be addressed with future research.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Since the beginning of my cardiology training, I was always fascinated by what I was studying that I often delved further into the details of the physiological mechanisms related to both homeostasis and pathology of the heart. During my last years of cardiology training, I fell in love with the field of cardiac electrophysiology and invasive cardiac arrhythmia diagnosis and treatment, which at that time was still at an initial stage but was already evolving at a very rapid pace. The clinical and technological advancements of the field excite me today as much as they did when I was a young cardiologist in training.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I believe in the power of mornings and always start my days very early. I also try to have a steady routine which allows me to have a little personal time for myself and my family. I wake up around 4 am every morning and spend 30-45 minutes at the gym. Once back home, I enjoy having breakfast with my wife and daughters. We just enjoy sitting together and talking about our day while the sun is rising. This time with my family and at the gym is my daily fuel and allows me to be empathetic with my patients and focused during the surgeries. I am also devoted and committed to my patients and my research.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To be persistent, inquisitive, and honest and to always empathize and listen to your patients.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Over the years, we have pioneered many strategies that are used in ablation procedures. The endorsement of the physicians and their preferred clinical practice in our field has been a long and still ongoing process. However, this is not unusual since generally it takes an average of 10-15 years to embrace new procedures and treatment options.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Medical research is a very competitive field and it is of utmost importance to be up-to-date with new discoveries and research studies. I always invite my fellows and colleagues to find some daily time to read what’s new in the literature, study hard, and think independently. Also, I believe that any research study is time sensitive and it is important to be persistent and efficient in pursuing projects.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
International collaboration with colleagues, honesty with patients and colleagues, and always working with an open-minded approach.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I deeply trust my collaborators and fellows and I still have a wonderful relationship with the majority of those I worked with in the past. Unfortunately, a few of them have not been completely honest and sincere over the years. Nonetheless, I still firmly believe in the essential importance of trust and honesty in the workplace as the fundamentals of building a strong, united group.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Being open minded and persistent is the best way to be successful and productive. Do not be discouraged by failures.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I have recently spent was a couple of weeks ago when I had my Saturday evening free and I went to the movies with my family.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I receive hundreds of emails every day and I do my best to keep track of them and answer them all. More recently, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I started using several video conferencing platforms and I deeply appreciated these tools, which allowed people from all over the world to virtually attend scientific meetings and keep interacting with friends and colleagues for research activities and collaborations.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend reading both Omnivore’s Dilemma and Caffeine by Michael Pollen as well as Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. They both offer a novel and refreshing perspective on a number of topics that are valuable to all.
What is your favorite quote?
I have always been inspired by the following quote attributed to Richard Feynman, one of the most influential physicists and educators of our time: “You are under no obligation to remain the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or even a day ago. You are here to create yourself, continuously.”
Key Learnings for Andrea Natale:
- Dedication, honesty, and open mindedness are paramount to leading a successful career
- Never stop learning new things
- Be willing to learn and listen from others
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.