Not enough physicians are joining startups, says AMA CEO

It's an exciting time for the healthcare industry, with a growing scope of biomedical startups getting off the ground today. However, to ensure new products correlate with the needs of providers working on the front-lines, startups must add physicians to their teams, according to an op-ed in STAT.

"Applying novel technologies to creating new therapies, preventing illness and reducing healthcare costs requires connecting these technologies with patients and the realities of the healthcare system," wrote James Madara, MD, CEO of the American Medical Association, and Vijay Pande, PhD, a general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. "Without physician innovators as part of the creative team, many potential innovations will die in the cradle."

Drs. Madara and Pande emphasized physicians can bring insight into the logistical challenges of how healthcare is delivered, what regulatory requirements are most salient, and how to align the interests of providers and patients, among other information that's invaluable for startups trying to deploy new technology into the space.

"There's a moment of failure that crushes many such startups: when the new tool or technology connects with the real world of patients, physicians, medical records, hospitals and insurers," they wrote. "That's when a physician who can navigate the nuances of the medical landscape is needed."

The authors outlined a few reasons why it's difficult for startups to find physicians to join their teams, including physicians being geographically located in different areas of the country than startup hubs such as San Francisco and Boston, along with physicians' desire for job security. Additionally, the way physicians are trained to think is substantially different than the "disruption" concept that's integral to Silicon Valley.

"Physicians are trained to be cautious, not disruptive; to follow strict, evidence-based patterns of reason, not take shortcuts; and to be guided by the consensus of well-tested research, not necessarily a new and perhaps yet-to-be tested innovation," they wrote.

To read Drs. Madara and Pande's op-ed in STAT, click here.

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