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Let's Face It: Medicine is Business

Entrepreneurs? Please — Disrupt Healthcare!

I was inspired to write this post to answer a question on Quora: “Can a consumer internet entrepreneur cross over into the healthcare space with limited domain expertise?”

Absolutely.

But you will need —

A compelling motive.
I know of a CEO who was trained as a lawyer. Her child had a rare disease and current treatments weren’t cutting it. Instead of getting frustrated, she founded a life science company to focus on this disease. She had a compelling motive, which is almost always personal in nature.

A compelling vision.
I agree with you that healthcare is ripe for disruption. It’s been ripe for years. So why hasn’t anyone disrupted it? Because the constituents in the system need to “get on board”. Depending on who you’re targeting, you will need to have a compelling vision to get them to “buy into” what you’re trying to do, rather than opting for the status quo. Because I’m telling you right now — the status quo is very, very comfortable. People like to be comfortable.

A compelling set of competencies.
If you don’t have the subject matter expertise, hire it. If you don’t have the management prowess to herd all the cats you need on board to make this thing happen, hire it. Whatever competencies you lack, you can always fill it with persons who live and breathe these competencies. You may even need to hire the right people who know how to hire the right people.

Never underestimate the importance of hiring the right people who must execute on your leadership vision. That CEO who went ahead and built that company I talked about earlier? She hired the wrong person (he had great interpersonal skills, just not the right subject matter expertise) and as a result, he almost bankrupted the company by screwing up critical decisions. People skills are critical yes, but in healthcare, depending on what you’re dealing with, you’d better hire the right subject matter experts where it counts.

You focus on what you do best — but don’t assume that your motive or vision can carry you all the way through. I’d hate nothing more than to see a grand vision or disruption get systematically drained by lack of competencies needed to execute on motive and vision.

You can do it.

Updated: June 30, 2013 — 8:04 am

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