The Art of Physician Entrepreneurship

by Arlen Meyers

The Art of Physician Entrepreneurship

Most doctors would agree that medicine, contrary to popular belief, is part science, but mostly art. Most of medical practice is not evidence based.

On the other hand, there seems to be some argument whether entrepreneurship is an art, a science or both.

Based on my experience of teaching and practicing both, here’s my two cents:

  1. The underlying foundation of science is a body of knowledge believed to be true. That is until it is proved wrong. Take, for example, the idea that the earth revolves around the sun. Sure, there are many examples and “best practices” when it comes to describing entrepreneurial ventures, but, there are no hard truths when it comes to predicting success, other than you need to make more money than you spend.
  2. Science “facts” are used to predict outcomes with a high degree of probability. We use math and astrophysics to figure out how to land a man on the moon. It’s harder to figure out how to use “facts” to land a customer
  3. There is a difference between science and the scientific method. Creating a hypothesis, doing experiments to test it, gathering and analyzing the data that results and drawing conclusions is useful both in the lab and what goes on out of the building. However, customer discovery data will only get you so far.
  4. The STEM basic science curriculum has been iterated for thousands of years. The entrepreneurship or management “science” curriculum is a relatively recent phenomenon.
  5. Using lean startup principles, while useful, is no guarantee of the “right answer”. I can pretty much guarantee that 2 x 2 =4.
  6. Biomedical science is about finding “truth”. Entrepreneurship is about finding and creating customers or helping beneficiaries, as in the mission driven canvas.
  7. In science, all things being equal, there is a high likelihood you will get the same experimental result. In entrepreneurship, there are no guarantees that doing the same thing twice will give you the same results
  8. Science is supposed to be cognitive. Entrepreneurship is mostly about emotions.
  9. Bias can distort both
  10. The value of scientific discoveries and outcomes are much harder to define than entrepreneurial outcomes and they both have different timelines for doing so.

The art of entrepreneurship relies more on best practices than scientific facts. Even then, the problem with best practices is that they make you average.

 
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Arlen MyersArlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org and co-editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship

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