Attend any biotech or health informatics conference and one thing becomes clear: the scarcity of physicians. Entrepreneurs, businessmen, angel investors, and software engineers swarm these conferences — and their encompassing companies — all the while the imperative persona in this realm remains tied up behind a dysfunctional EHR or in an overbooked operating room. Why?
Certainly, inculcating these dynamic players in the health care space is integral to the successful evolvement of the American health care system. Software engineers brilliantly bring forth their skills for analytics, mechanical engineers ensure products are built with viability and strength, and business acumen ensures successful market access. Nonetheless, the sheer lack of medical doctors involved in these companies is troubling.
The basic premise of any medical company is to solve a clinical need in the most efficient manner. To whom shall we turn to for the most in-depth view of these needs? The physician. No singular entity in this ecosystem knows more about current clinical needs than the clinician herself. In consulting for companies working on projects in surgery, oncology, neuroimaging and more, I consistently find that the entire company consists of everything but a physician. We need a clinical voice in this orchestra.
It is not preposterous to say that the ideal profession for medical innovation is the MD. They are mindful of what is missing and what works within the system and understand what creates efficiency and waste. They should be the quarterback of any successful health care innovation company. Regardless of how many engineers your company hires, the training an MD receives far surpasses the abilities of those said individuals in defining the landscape your company aims to refine. The best medical innovation companies have clinicians on staff – not as investors, not as board members, but as actual employees.
Physicians enter medicine to alleviate the pain and suffering of the sick. Thus, it makes sense that the majority of graduates from 1960 to 1995 strayed from working in industry. Yet, the new generation of physicians is not only exposed to advancements in tech and engineering, but they may also understand it well enough to utilize it to better the system they find themselves serving. These medical doctors can do our sector a great good by joining us on a mission, which should also be aimed at alleviating human suffering brought about by sickness. We aim to improve their service, and we ought not to be arrogant enough to think we can actually cause effectual change without their consistent input.
Ayden Jacob is a biomedical engineer and can be reached at The Future of Medicine Though Biongineering and on Twitter @AydenJacobMed.
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