Despite the many doctors creating user defined value through the deployment of innovation, people still insist doctors are lousy business people. The reasons vary, but the most common ones are :
- The confuse "business" with something else. A business is an organization or economic system where goods and services are exchanged for one another, for something of value, or for money. Every business requires some form of investment and enough customers to whom its output can be sold on a consistent basis in order to make a profit. Businesses can be privately owned, not-for-profit or state-owned. Sick-care in the US is, in fact, a business but with peculiarities, like third party reimbursement, opaque pricing schemes and poor quality outcome metrics.
- They used imprecise metrics to measure whether someone is "a good business person" or not.
- They don't factor in the differences between the practice and ethics of medicine v that of business.
- Their opinions are tainted by bias, political beliefs and private experiences with their last sick care encounter.
- They confuse experience with quality, which are unrelated.
- Doctors are obliged to take care of patients regardless of their ability to pay and put the interest of the patient above other conflicting interests, something most non-sick care businesses are unwilling to do.
- The business of medicine is not part and parcel of medical education or residency training. Consequently, doctors don't make it a priority.
- Doctors are not chosen because they have an entrepreneurial mindset.
- The sick care ecosystem does not encourage innovation or early adoption of new ideas or technologies. Crossing the chasm can take years if not a generation for pragmatists to accept it.
- Doctors perpetuate the myth.
- They are service providers who need to perpetuate the myth to sell their wares.
- I many instances, doctors don't pay attention to the business of medicine and, in fact, go bankrupt, ignore fundamental principles of marketing or simply don't pay attention to their patients and other stakeholders. That fact casts a halo over the increasing numbers of clinicians who do.
Here are some reasons why doctors have the potential to make great businesspeople or entrepreneurs. Don't be fooled by the cynics.
Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs.
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