Some Warnings for Physician’s Wanting to Be Entrepreneurs

Last year I got to know a bit about an organization called the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs. It’s a fascinating organization that works to help physicians with their entrepreneurial dreams come true. I love the concept because so many doctors have ideas that can benefit healthcare, but commercializing an idea is always a challenge.

Arlen Meyers, MD, and Co-founder, President and CEO of the society has a great blog post up called “Don’t Throw Away Your White Coat.” In the post he gives a list of 10 reasons why doctors might want to think twice about leaving medicine for their entrepreneurial dream:

1. Most doctors don’t have an entrepreneurial mindset.

2. Doctors are trained to be risk averse.

3. Doctors are more interested in being problem solvers than problem seekers.

4. Doctors tend to be multidimensional, unwilling to expand their networks beyond an inner circle.

5. The culture of academic medicine, where almost all doctors are trained, tends to be anti-entrepreneurial and sees “money as dirty”

6. The ethics of medicine frequently are at odds with the perceived ethics of business.

7. While things are changing, most doctors are independently minded and not team players.

8. Some are “know it alls” who are not receptive to new ideas

9. Doctors spend a lot of time, money and effort becoming doctors. The opportunity costs or leaving clinical medicine to pursue an entrepreneurial venture is high.

10. The cost to society of losing a clinician at a time when there is a predicted doctors shortage is high.

I really appreciate this kind of frank talk about physician entrepreneurs. I’ve seen both sides of the equation and so I know that many doctors shouldn’t be entrepreneurs. I’ve also seen some doctors who probably should have been entrepreneurs and not doctors. In fact, I’m glad they became doctors because then they’re better able to be healthcare entrepreneurs. However, we shouldn’t be shy in talking about the challenge that many doctors have in crossing the chasm to entrepreneurship. Just like we shouldn’t be shy in talking about a tech person trying to learn healthcare.

Thanks Dr. Meyers for expanding the discussion. What do you think of his list? Have you seen examples of these? Can you leverage some of these challenges into strengths for your healthcare company?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Docs aren’t alone in having many barriers to cross to become EHR or EHR related vendors. However, as the list in your post points out, they have several additional ones.

    Many of us have seen mom and doc EHR operations. Often, they have some interesting ideas. A major problem that they face, but often did not see coming is what it means to be a software vendor. You not only have to have a good program, but you have to train and support users, fix problems and try to stay up to date with the field. It’s easy to start cutting corners and fall behind. The result is not only personal burnout, but also financial, not to mention loss of face.

    In short, here’s my advice to a doc with a great EHR idea. If it’s that good, sell it to someone else and enjoy your retirement.

  • MDs & Clinicians play a key role and an effective digital health ecosystem has to connect these folks with tech entrepreneurs and experienced mentors. Like the practice of medicine itself, health entrepreneurship must be a team sport!

  • I like the note, I agree with most of them but I think that some of this points in the list are not a caracteristic in LATAM doctors life.
    We are set into a different scenario (more than one job, lower incomes, easier access to be a doctor, etc.). And even when we try to be a problem solver, we are dealing constantly with finding the resources to solve them wich put us in the situation of being entrepreneurs for a while.
    Thanks for let us share our opinions.

  • Frederico,
    Thanks for adding the international perspective. You’re absolutely right about it being quite different. I’d love to learn more about the challenges you face and the breakthroughs you’ve seen or would like to see.

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