Post-COVID physician entrepreneurship

COVID has changed the world, and, with it, the future of physician entrepreneurship. Previous assumptions are no longer valid. Each and every element of business models and the innovation pathway has shifted.

Nevertheless, there is some good news:

  • Entrepreneurs are fighters, optimistic and resilient. They will overcome this difficult period because this is in their DNA to bounce back.
  • Every crisis is not limitless, and the end entrepreneurs can always undertake something.

A basic reminder: a company needs 3 assets to be profitable and sustainable:

  1. Money (access to capital)
  2. A know-how or a specific expertise
  3. A team (people)

Creating and building those pieces in a post-COVID world will be characterized by:

  1. Entrepreneurship education and training reform that will no longer reside in the halls of academia, but, rather, in informal communities that are cheaper, more nimble and responsive to the networking and ecosystem demands of new entrants.
  2. As people increasingly work remotely, new wage and benefit systems will create a new social compact that protects workers during future shocks to the economy, instead of hailing them as heroes one day and a drag on profitability the next.
  3. The simultaneous pressure for a fix for systemic racism, the pressures of the pandemic, inequality, social justice and the future of work will flatten the income gaps and disparities
  4. Public health entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship will take its rightful place in the ways physicians can create stakeholder defined value through the deployment of innovation
  5. Addressing social determinants will become part and parcel of health systems reform
  6. Undergraduates, medical students, residents, and fellows will accelerate Plan B as they abbreviate their clinical careers and push against a medical education establishment that views any doctor who does not see patients full time as selfish and selling out.
  7. Traditional structures for financing new ventures will become more decentralized and liberalized
  8. The demand for regulatory reform, reimbursement and universal coverage (albeit not necessarily guaranteeing universal access) will gain speed.
  9. Barriers to sick care open innovation will fall out of necessity
  10. Medical education will be reformed as part of Flexner 2.0

Prior to COVID, physician entrepreneurship was experiencing its golden age. The metal might be a bit tarnished, but its value is still high and rising.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs