Tag Archives: Physicians

The Reasons Physicians are Losing the Branding Wars

The Reasons Physicians are Losing the Branding Wars

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

Maybe the last time you walked into a retail-based clinic, you did not see an MD. Maybe the same thing happened at your hospital outpatient clinic or an urgent care center. Physician “extenders” and advanced practice professionals, like primary care pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are winning the war on branding. They and their professional associations have done a good job branding their services while complacent doctors have not. What happened? Doctors are now “providers”. The latest spin is to call yourself a surgicalist. A surgicalist is a highly trained, board-certified surgeon who provides emergency surgical care within a dedicated hospital setting – the foundation of a surgical hospitalist program. A surgicalist career path affords talented surgeons the chance to design the life they want.

Staffing shortages among healthcare providers are having numerous downstream effects on everything from patient care to reimbursement and thinning margins. But they’re also causing a shift in public perception: More people now trust pharmacists to play a larger role in their care management, according to new research from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City and Express Scripts Pharmacy.

With more than half (51.8%) of the U.S. population experiencing at least one chronic condition, and one-quarter suffering from multiple chronic conditions, prescription medications are often the first line of defense to help patients manage these conditions, the report found.

In the period from 2015–2018, nearly one-half of the U.S. population was using at least one prescription drug, nearly one-quarter (21.4%) were using three or more, and over 10% were using five or more prescription drugs.

All of that is putting pharmacists in the spotlight – along with the rise of chronic disease, increased medication use and shifts to value-based payment models.

Doctors don’t understand that branding a service, particularly one that is becoming more and more commoditized, is not like branding a product, like toothpaste. There are four keys to branding a service:

1. Don’t Mass Market To Your Target Market Take a look at the doctor ads. They are filled with platitudes like “quality care”, “personalized service” and “caring staff”. I would sure hope so. But, marketing to the masses with platitudes is like a CPA saying “I can do your taxes”. Instead, you need to “touch” your patients with highly targeted messages.

2. Focus On Relevance Over Differentiation Most product branding is about cheaper, smarter, faster, better compared to the competition. Service branding is about how I can solve your unique problem.

3. Worry About Growing Revenue, Not Market Share. Payer mix is an obvious difference when it comes to sickcare branding compared to product branding. As we all know, doctors don’t make the same profit seeing all patients. Some, in fact, are loss leaders. Soon, all of sick care might be a loss leader.

4. Help Your People Be Your Brand. Particularly in sickcare, your people are your brand, including the doctors. You are the product, not the doctor.

When it comes to these four elements, non-physicians are doing a better job than physicians and they are building brand equity. Take a page out of the FedEx playbook, and expect to see

  • A genuine and defensible market position
  • Improved external awareness, perception, and desirability
  • The development of a collaborative internal culture
  • Alignment and integration of all messaging
  • Revenue growth

Here are 10 ways to beat Commodity Care. For doctors to brand their services and win as incumbents in the market, they need to practice Othercare .

In the face of competition, substitutes and turf wars, doctors need to do more about their sustainable competitive advantage, particularly when it comes to practicing at the top of their license, building brand equity and innovating, all things that, up to this time, they have not done because they didn’t have to.

Maybe then, they won’t call you a provider anymore, doctor.

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Should you be a physician entrepreneur?

Should you be a physician entrepreneur?

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

Not every doctor is cut out to be a physician entrepreneur. Are you?

It seems to me there is confusion about physician entrepreneurship, its definition and whether it represents a threat to professionalism. I’m not alone. Is a physician entrepreneur someone who starts and runs a business, or is it something more?

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity under variable, uncertain, complex and ambiguous conditions. The goal of all entrepreneurs, including physician entrepreneurs, is to create user defined value through the deployment of innovation using a VAST business model to accomplish, in the case of medical professionals, the quintuple aim or, if applicable, shareholder value.

Here are three things to know about physician entrepreneurship.

Because of the many changes in the art and practice of medicine, many doctors have decided to get involved in non-clinical side gigs or, in some instances, leave medicine entirely. Here is a guide to non-clinical careers.

Doctors are practicing the art of entrepreneurship for many reasons:

  1. It helps patients
  2. It’s fun and challenging
  3. It gives them the ability to exercise creativity
  4. It creates alignment and engagement with organization
  5. The profit motive
  6. It creates meaning
  7. It satisfies psychic needs
  8. It provides another sources of external vaidation
  9. It’s a way to get outside of your comfort zone
  10. It allows you to take more risk
  11. The sick care business model is broken and they want to be part of the big fix after feeling ignored and disempowered
  12. They have to to surthrive

Whether you are a pre-med, a medical student, a resident, a fellow or a practicing clinician thinking about beginning the entrepreneurial journey, you should take some time to identify your persona.

You career strategy starts with answering:

  1. Where are you now?
  2. Where do you want to go?
  3. How do you want to get there?

Begin by matching yourself with one of the four core entrepreneurial personas as defined by their willingness and ability to practice entrepreneurship successfully.

The Convinced and Confident know entrepreneurship should be part of their career pathway. In fact, many of them have had entrepreneurial life experiences prior to medical school.

The Curious but Clueless don’t know what they don’t know but are willing to learn more. Many have never held a job in their life. Some might be willing, but unable to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. . Others discover their innerpreneur, and move on.

The I Couldn’t Care Less are unwilling and unable to give it a try. Their attitude is , “I went to medical school to take care of patients, not take care of business”. What they don’t realize is that if you don’t take care of business, you have no business taking care of patients.

The Conflicted have yet to discover their “innerpreneur”, but are conflicted about whether to step outside of their comfort zones and cut the chord.

Your persona will help lead you to the next steps:

  1. The Convinced and Confident: Continue to improve your knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies and learn from your experience.
  2. The Curious but Clueless: Start with education, building your networks and finding mentors
  3. The I Couldn’t Care Less: Pass on entrepreneurship until or unless you change your mind. Here are the many reasons why you should not be a physician entrepreneur.
  4. The Conflicted: Start with the 6Rs of physician career transitioning, beginning with reflection.

Where you are in the thought process will depend on who you are.

Moving from unawareness to awareness to intention to decision to action might show you someone in the mirror you would have never recognized in the past. Or, you might be looking at the same old person.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Myths About Physician Entrepreneurs

Myths About Physician Entrepreneurs

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers

Physician entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity by doctors and other health professionals under VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) conditions. The goal is to create user/patient/stakeholder defined value through the design, development, testing, deployment and harvesting of biomedical and clinical innovation using a VAST business model. Unfortunately, in my view, only about 1% of doctors and biomedical scientists have an entrepreneurial mindset and there are several misperceptions about those that do.

There are many myths about entrepreneurs. Here are some about physician entrepreneurs:

  1. They are egotistical, self centered and greedy. Some might be , but most are generally interested in moving forward biomedical innovation to help patients and leverage their skills. Most physician entrepreneurs practice the belief that you can do well by doing good. They try to be compassionate capitalists , resolving the ethics of medicine with the ethics of business.
  2. They are mostly 24-35 year old techies. In terms of medical education, people that age are just completing their residencies and just starting to practice independently. A few dabble in entrepreneurial ventures during undergraduate, medical school or residency, but most have their hands full with medical training and have little time, money or energy for anything else. In addition, many physicians start their entrepreneurial careers later in life as part of a portfolio career or an encore career after retirement from clinical practice. There are three main demographics.
  3. Physician entrepreneurs have an inherent conflict of interest that makes them all suspect. All physicians, particularly those in private practice billing fee for service, have a conflict of interest and always have throughout the history of medicine. The world has become more complicated, further clouding the air. The idea is to declare, manage, mitigate or eliminate conflicts of interest, not ignore them.
  4. Physician entrepreneurs have to quit the practice of medicine. In fact, there are many ways clinicians can practice entrepreneurship, adding value at a profit, by engaging in part time or transitional activities. The decision to engage in physician entrepreneurship should not be and either/or decision, but an “and” decision. There are many kinds of physician entrepreneurs and almost every doctor has the potential to create user defined value at some stage of their career. In fact, the ACGME should make practicing medicine using a viable business model a 7th competency.
  5. Most physician entrepreneurs are millionaires. Like other entrepreneurs, most will fail if they create a new venture. In fact, most doctors make mid to high six figure salaries and the opportunity cost of pursuing an entrepreneurial venture is a barrier to participation.
  6. Doctors think that the business of medicine is as important as the practice of medicine. In fact, most medical schools don’t teach it and very few medical students and postgraduate trainees learn it. Doctors learn it when they have to after graduation as a simple matter of survival
  7. Entrepreneurship is about creating businesses. No it is not. Rather, it is about creating user defined value through the deployment of innovation and there are many ways to do that, including , but not limited to creating a business. For example, there are independent professional service providers (private practitioners), social entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs-employed physicians trying to act like entrepreneurs, physician investors and physician service providers. They all are trying to get ideas to patients or help someone who is. Doctors who say, “I didn’t go into medicine to be an entrepreneur” i.e. learn medical practice entrepreneurship, are misguided, partly due to the messaging of the academic and biomedical industrial complex that medicine is just about taking care of patients.
  8. Innovation is the same as practice management. Practice management is like any other operations management function. It is done to maximize outputs/unit input. Innovation is done to create the future. For those in clinical practice, we should be emphasizing medical practice entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.
  9. You need a certain personality to be a physician entrepreneur. Most research indicates almost anyone can be creative, imaginative or innovative with the right coaching. Innovation starts with a mindset. Unlike personality traits, a mindset is malleable.
  10. Things are staying the same. Quite the contrary. There are many in diverse educational, training, coaching and organizational ecosystems that are doing extraordinary things despite big obstacles to change how we do biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship.
  11. Physicians are better entrepreneurs than anyone else. I doubt it. While it is true that end users are market perceivers, very few are technopreneurs, business developers, story tellers, score keepers or money finders that are necessary skill positions on the startup team
  12. Physician entrepreneurs play nice with others. No they don’t. Here’s why.
  13. It’s a “good old boys” network. About half of medical students are women. Yes, it is still true that minorities are underrepresented. Here are the numbers about women in medicine. My experience is that women physicians are just as entrepreneurial as men. Immigrants are more entrepreneurial.
  14. Doctors make lousy business people. Here are some reasons why doctors have the potential to make great businesspeople or entrepreneurs. No, doctors are not lousy business people. Don’t be fooled by the cynics.
  15. Doctors who don’t see patients are not “real doctors” . In fact, in my experience, the vast numbers of physicians who stop seeing patients continue to do things that benefit patients. In many instances, with much bigger impact on much larger numbers of patients that they did when they were seeing 40 patients a day working for the Man.

Here are some other facts about entrepreneurs that might surprise you.

Our sickcare system of systems is sick and the prescribed treatment needs to be multimodality therapy. One treatment is biomedical, digital health, care delivery and process innovation. Physician entrepreneurs will play an increasingly important role in making sure that the patient takes their medicine. Taking care of business is an essential part of taking care of patients. If doctors don’t care of business, they have no business practicing medicine.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Open Source Respirator and Low Cost Ventilator Efforts to Fight Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Open Source Respirator Project

Mechanical Ventilator

NOTE: Nothing on this page is intended as medical advice. My only goal is to make information available so that people can get involved with co-innovation efforts and share resources that can be leveraged in crisis situations.

Calling all doctors, nurses, designers, engineers and designers…

Join one of the amazing Open Source Ventilator Projects to contribute your passion, creativity, time and expertise to help develop low-cost ventilators to fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Here are some ways of getting involved and some inspiration and some cheaper ventilator options:

  1. 13,000+ member Open Source Coronavirus Supplies group on Slack
  2. OPEN CALL closes 24 March at 9:00 GMT: Rapidly Manufactured Ventilated Systems
  3. March 19-20 University College London (UCL) Design & Refine Sprint Low Cost Ventilators — Register Now
  4. Ultimate Medical Hackathon
  5. Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies group on Facebook
  6. DIY Pandemic Ventilator (built during Avian Flu crisis and shared on Instructables)
  7. Story on OneBreath winning PopSci Innovation Award in 2010
  8. OneBreath company web site ($4,000 low cost respirator vs. $35,000 traditional solution)
  9. $500 pandemic ventilator from Canada
  10. Open Respirator Project on Github

Here is a video showing a DIY ventilator solution:

And here is a video from vacuum manufacturer Gtech in the United Kingdom (UK) showing a prototype they are working on to be entirely powered by the hospital oxygen supply in as simple a way as possible so they can hopefully meet the UK government’s call to make 30,000 ventilators in two weeks:

Just added another video highlighting an improvised design experiment the University of Minnesota is working on with some design partners:

The design team has made all of their designs shown in the University of Minnesota video – open source and available by clicking this REDDIT link

Here is an open source ventilator project out of Germany – The CORESPONSE – COvid19 RESPirator (Open Source):

Cost is about 75 Euros per unit and all of the details of this 3D printed open source project are available by clicking here.

Here is an article (click here) and a video detailing how to turn a snorkeling mask into a non-invasive ventilator:

AgVa Healthcare has produced a low cost ventilator starting at under $700 (according to the video) that leverages an app on the user’s smartphone to control its functions. Another great example of Indian ingenuity that was originally submitted as a comment on this article:

Below is a video from the Lemelson Foundation from 2015 that shares the story of how Matt Callaghan came to start OneBreath Ventilators to create lower cost ventilators for developing countries and the rest of the world after H1N1 Swine Flu never became a problem in the USA thanks to President Obama’s administration proactive steps to protect our country. (Learn more about the design process by reading this Stanford Byers Center for BioDesign article)

OneBreath Ventilator

UPDATE: Just found this video showing how to use one ventilator to save FOUR people – video from the United States’ Center for Disease Control (CDC) – all the details health professionals might need:

CAUTION, this from a doctor in Italy about risks of co-ventilating to be kept in mind as you group people to co-ventilate in a crisis situation:

“This is unfortunately not as good of an idea as it seems. In trauma and shootings, it’s one thing because lung compliance is unlikely to change quickly. However, in ARDS (and COVID19), we expect to have dramatic changes in lung compliance. When one patients lung compliance changes, there is a significant risk of underventilating the patient with lowest compliance and overventilating patients with highest compliance – both potentially deadly. I worry that instead of saving one person, you create a situation where you increase the odds of losing both (or all 4) patients“

BUT, according to Alexander Clarke you can solve this problem with flow restrictors…

Another article detailing previous research and considerations – https://www.saasceo.com/ventilator-capacity/

Vesper Prisma Health

VESper™ is a unique ventilator expansion device that allows a single ventilator to support up to four patients under emergency use authorization by the FDA during times of acute equipment shortages such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Hospitals can apply to receive the free source code and printing specifications for the device, produced using 3D printing technology, the device is developed with material already in use for medical devices and produced at minimal cost:

  • designed to work with ISO standard respiratory connections;
  • allows for appropriate filtering of bacteria and viruses in the ventilator tubing;
  • does not impact the care of other patients connected to the same machine.

SPECIAL BONUS for anyone facing a shortage of protective face shields.

See this article From Design to Mass 3D printing of Medical Shields in Three Days, below is a video highlighting the end result solution from this article:

OR looking for information on DIY hand sanitizer, masks, and protective clothing:

  1. DIY Masks (including comparison of materials)
  2. World Health Organization (WHO) Information on Protective Clothing
  3. World Health Organization (WHO) Information on DIY Hand Sanitizer
  4. WIRED – How to Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer

Here is a video showing how to make your own reusable elastomeric respirator (click here for instrutions poster):

And here is a video discussing whether people should wear face masks and how people can use DIY face masks without impacting availability of N95 and surgical masks to healthcare workers:

Here is a video showing how to make face masks to help healthcare workers:

AND here is a link to a PDF of the pattern to make the masks – https://courierpressblogs.com/pdf/howtomakeafacemask.pdf

Additional DIY mask videos can be found here – https://www.sewcanshe.com/blog/5-free-diy-face-mask-tutorials-using-fabric

Here is how to make a DIY Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) smock out of a garbage bag thanks to the people at Hefty:



Doctors and Nurses in Spain and other countries are already having to do this.

And, here is a picture of an ingenious idea of using a headband and buttons to save the ears of healthcare workers from chafing of wearing a mask 13-14 hours a day. Thanks Natasha Smith!

Coronavirus mask and headband solution

And, here is an interesting article about a surgical and N95 mask design that uses salt to help kill viruses like Coronavirus (COVID-19) on masks to improve their effectiveness in protecting the wearer against getting sick

Coronavirus Salt Masks

If you know of other efforts working on creating low cost, quick to produce ventilators, please post as a comment!

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