From Bedside to Boardroom: How doctors can thrive in medical entrepreneurship

From Bedside to Boardroom: How doctors can thrive in medical entrepreneurship

By Hussein Adoto

Entrepreneurship is at the heart of medicine. At every turn, age-long health problems cry out for solutions, new clinical challenges spring up for attention, and patients seek more effective ways to get healthy. Enterprising medical doctors are better placed to provide these solutions, and they can profit while doing so, but not necessarily from the bedside.

Private practice is a great way to start
Medical entrepreneurs can go into private practice, away from the repetitive bore and disillusionment characterizing working in government-funded hospitals. Turning to entrepreneurship helps doctors reclaim fun and control over their careers. In private practice, you can expand the options available to patients, innovate new solutions, and tailor your products and services in ways that serve patient needs and are more fulfilling.

The prospect for success in private practice in Nigeria is bright. EKO Hospitals, Cedacrest Hospitals, Lagoon Hospitals, and other big-name private hospitals epitomize this success. Other hospitals are springing up in smaller places, taking small but consistent steps toward the zenith of medical entrepreneurship.

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Fresh doctors can key into this tradition to close the gaps in healthcare delivery in the country and make some money for themselves.

It doesn’t have to be clinical practice
Private practice does not necessarily equate to hosting clinical sessions, doing ward rounds, or performing surgeries. One can make money with medicine without having to wear scrubs and coats or use scalpels and stethoscopes. Think Crestview. Think Flying Doctors.

Crestview has succeeded in creating a chain of well-managed, top-quality diagnostic laboratories nationwide, and it is just one of many laboratory chains doing well in Nigeria. Dr. Ola Brown founded Flying Doctors in 2007 to become Nigeria’s first air-operated emergency service company. If you are interested in laboratory medicine or emergency medical services, Crestview or Flying Doctors are good models to follow.

Consultant… but not in the clinic
Beyond practicing medicine, doctors can leverage their intellectual property to consult for startups, organisations, manufacturers, governments, NGOs, and even multinational corporations.

Companies seeking to develop new medical or healthcare products can procure your expertise to validate their strategy and offerings. Multinational corporations will benefit from your domain knowledge when investing in your field. Thus, you can position yourself as an expert to cash in on the extensive opportunities in consulting.

Invest, invest, invest

Suppose you have made your money elsewhere and still want to make more with medicine, you can invest in promising medical startups and use your medical experience and entrepreneurial acumen to guide them into profit-making ventures. That’s what Dr. Ola Brown (yes, Dr. Ola Brown of Flying Doctors) is doing with Greentree Investment.

It’s profitable. Greentree invested in PayStack, one of the leading fintech companies in Nigeria. They have other trailblazing companies in their portfolio, and that’s just a start. As more innovative entrepreneurs join the Nigerian market, Greentree will see more profitable ventures in which to invest.

The key to achieving success with investing is to develop a keen eye for well-structured startups, medical startups especially, and stay the course till they can give healthy and steady returns on your investment.

Are you a techie?

Advancements in information technology have also opened an exciting vista of opportunities for medical entrepreneurs. You may not need to keep a stethoscope dangling on you 24/7 to thrive in the rapidly evolving tech world. You can be “a tech bro.,” “a tech doctor”, a “doctor in tech” or whatever cool phrase that catches your fancy.

Doctors now have a new frontier to engage patients and provide new solutions, from mobile applications to software, the internet, and dizzying innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Medicine is no longer “by the bedside,” apologies to the fathers of medicine. Now, there’s telemedicine, virtual reality therapy, virtual consultations, and remote patient monitoring, all waiting for enterprising doctors to cash in.

Doctor turned medical content creator
Medical doctors can tap into their creative potential and pursue passions outside of clinical practice. Take medical content creation, for instance. Dr. Chinonso Egemba, aka Aproko Doctor, has turned medical infotainment into a sport with his simple, bite-sized videos on common medical topics. The public learns about health and medicine while he smiles to the bank to cash out his rewards. His works are an example for creative medical doctors.

You may not get to be the next Aproko Doctor, but you can be the first of your name and make a living creating medical content that matters. If you have large social media followers you can transition into being an influencer who promotes brands and projects for good pay.

What’s new about health and medicine?
If you have a flair for writing, medical journalism, medical writing, blogging, podcasting, and publishing are exciting avenues to make good money. Through your writings, commentaries, analyses, and investigations, you get to shape narratives about health and medicine.
Take Nigeria Health Watch, for instance. They are one of the foremost medical media cum advocacy companies in Nigeria, and they have made a name for themselves. The space is ample to accommodate new entrants.

Medical entrepreneurship is about meeting unmet health needs
We can’t exhaust the opportunities for you, the enterprising medical doctor. The onus is to identify a need and develop cutting-edge products and services that improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and enhance the overall quality of care.

By identifying unmet needs and developing innovative solutions, you can help reduce healthcare costs, improve patient engagement, and enhance the overall efficiency of the healthcare system. In doing so, you can impact the healthcare space and leave a legacy that extends far beyond your clinical practice.

Should you move to the boardroom?
Moving from the relative security of bedside medicine to the prosperous yet volatile boardrooms of medical entrepreneurship is a leap every medical doctor should consider. It’s a risk, yes. It’s challenging, true. But it’s also rewarding, impactful, fulfilling.

Those with the skills and fortitude to fly and thrive as doctorpreneurs should take the leap. Those who don’t have the skills should skill up, do an MBA programme, or seek mentoring from established doctorpreneurs. Network. Build contacts. Build experience. The boardroom awaits you.

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