Most physicians have spent decades training for the day that they see their first patient or perform their first surgery. This extended time involved to become a physician does not leave a lot of spare time in college or medical school for most physicians to take any significant coursework in economics, finance, or investing. Yet, physicians have a tremendous amount of knowledge with regards to all aspects of health care, including patient evaluation and physiology, medical technology, and electronic health records. We recognize the relevant positives and negatives and the benefits and shortcomings of current medical technology and computer-based patient care platforms.
Most physicians have keen insight into what is currently working for them and their patients, and what might be done to improve the status quo. This knowledge and insight is a major reason why startup companies with new technology, and venture capital investors, often look to partner with physicians and bring them on as investors and advisers. There is a growing desire and need for physicians to be more actively involved in venture capital funds and physician networks for this purpose.
Over the past decade, I have become keenly interested in evaluating a variety of investment opportunities, and a majority of these have been in the medical technology field, where a physician’s expertise lies. I have been involved in two separate venture capital groups, including my current role as a general partner and chief medical officer in a venture capital fund and network focused exclusively on medical technology. Through an expanding group of clinician investors, this fund can comprehensively evaluate companies that are looking for investment, and, as importantly, looking from clinical input from a network of experienced advisers. By diversifying the fund’s investments over many companies, the investment risk is also mitigated. Physicians make up the majority of investors and advisers, but the network also includes dentists, therapists, nurses, health care executives, etc.
There is incredible synergy in working with a diverse group such as this, and not a day passes that I fail to learn something new in this area. I would urge any physician to look for opportunities outside of direct patient care to utilize your experience and knowledge in this manner; it can be a very rewarding (and educational) activity that meshes very well with physicians’ skillsets.
Chris Kager is a neurosurgeon.
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