Doctors as businesspeople: The growth of physician entrepreneurs

Conventional wisdom, usually perpetuated by the media and practice and wealth management consultants, is that doctors are lousy businesspeople.  Pundits cite many reasons , but the common theme is that doctors are unwilling or unable to master the skills required to run a profitable business. I disagree. Physician entrepreneurs around the world are repeatedly demonstrating their ability to pursue the opportunities created by the enormous changes in health care delivery and technology.

For example, with the realization that face-to-face, fee-for-service care is an unsustainable business model, physician entrepreneurs are creating digital health apps, telemedicine companies and alternative care delivery platforms like physician-owned hospitals, urgent care centers, retail-based clinics and employer-based clinics. In addition, they are creating business process models to reduce waste and improve efficiencies in care and collaborating with communities of patients to design, execute and fund basic, translational and clinical research.

Recent reports predict that by the end of 2013, only 37 percent of U.S. physicians will hold an equity interest in a private practice. Despite the doom and gloom, I believe doctors will innovate and take advantage of these rapidly changing times to create profitable models that, in addition to being sustainable, will keep the interests of patients where they should be (i.e., before profits). The conundrum facing doctors is how to reconcile their duty to patients above financial profitability ratios and maintain the medical ethos. International physician entrepreneurs are finding innovative ways to help patients and enjoy the fruits of their success.