By KELLI MURRAY, Founder, MedSpeaks
The Central Florida market is ripe with a variety of emerging technologies and ambitious inventors positioning to bring meaningful solutions to our local healthcare ecosystem. Despite the diverse talent and creativity, a consistent challenge facing ideators and founders is the ability to effectively engage the physician community in validating that these solutions are not just viable from a business perspective, but are also meaningful and impactful to outcomes, productivity, and cost savings.
I recently reached into my network of physicians in order to get to the root of the problem. Surprisingly, the most common reason is not a lack of time or interest on the physician's part. The problem is an inherent lack of reciprocal value that physicians receive in exchange for providing their specialized knowledge, which startups need to validate their company's direction.
According to Christian Assad, MD, Interventional Endovascular Cardiologist at RGV Cardiology, and Co-Founder of Curely Health, "(Startups) should not expect different from a physician than what you would expect from any other professional, such as an attorney. If my knowledge can help make a successful million-dollar company, then things change. A free consult to a patient is far different than a free consult to a startup because they are here to make money. Taking calls from start-ups may be cool in the beginning, but in the end, it's a waste of time without incentives."
Given the fact that the a physician's unique medical knowledge and experience may make the difference between an innovation never making it off the ground, and one that hits a moonshot in the market, consider these options as a means to invest in the health tech scene that won't break the bank, or your schedule, yet offer a variety of incentives.
Get involved in the local Health Innovation Community - there's a network of over 1,400 healthcare founders and technologists right here in Central Florida. Monthly meetings are designed to facilitate organic relationships via constructive, creative dialog between "problem owners" and "problem solvers." Learn more at healthinnovators.info.
Join an Investor Network - groups like the Florida Angel Nexus and FAN Fund offer structured visibility into startups and provide a platform to invest financially. These networks of investors typically focus on a variety of industries, including health, which not only provide you with an opportunity to diversify your portfolio but the potential to function as a domain expert for evaluating the viability of healthcare startups.
Follow Innovation Leaders on Social Media - healthcare thought leaders such as Daniel Kraft, Robert Scoble, John Nosta, Eric Topol, Peter Diamandis, Christian Assad, Shafi Ahmed, Brian Ahier, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, Nick van Terheyden, and Unity Stoaks are ahead on current trends and provide insightful commentary. Follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Be a hired consultant for a startup or venture capital firm - often roles of this capacity are part-time positions and offer opportunities for creativity as well as equity ownership and/or fees, either of which can open new doors and help keep your knowledge base on point with current and futuristic trends.
Invest using a self-directed IRA - companies like Orlando-based NuView IRA and more traditional firms like Fidelity offer a simple way to convert your 401k into a self-directed IRA, which means you can financially invest in opportunities you have personally vetted. Although risky, the returns - if invested and diversified wisely - can result in hearty returns well above stock averages.