Anthony “Tony” Manuel, MD, MMM is a healthcare leader with 17 years of experience in large, multi-hospital systems. Tony is result-oriented and a physician leader, excelling in clinical and administrative medicine. Tony is a practicing anesthesiologist and a clinical consultant with expertise in clinical integration and operations.
Q: Why did you go to medical school? What made you want to become a physician?
TM: Both of my parents are physicians, so I guess you can say it was in my blood. Growing up we would routinely run into patients of my parents when we were out and they were always so thankful. It made me realize how impactful one could be as a physician.
I was lucky enough to spend some time around the medical field while in high school and in the summers when I was in college. That really solidified my choice to go try to become a physician. I was drawn to the operating room and knew that’s where I wanted to be.
Q: What’s a big risk you took (professionally or personally) that really paid off?
TM: I would say deciding to go back to school and getting my Master of Medical Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University. It was a big-time and financial commitment but it has been very helpful. I learned a lot about finance, how innovation happens and how to improve communication.
This has allowed me to branch out into areas such as clinical consulting for startups and angel investing. I also focused more on the technology side of healthcare and product development. I’ve attended meetings that I would have never have gone to in the past such as HLTH, TEDMED, and Startup Health.
Q: What’s the craziest thing on your bucket list?
TM: I feel like I already did it when I did a race from Austin to Las Vegas in a car that had to be under $2000. We had to be in costume and when we arrived we had to sell the car, take the proceeds and put it on one bet. We took the $625 that we had after selling the car and bet on three red numbers. The red 3 hit and we won! It was a fun event and the group raised some money for the Dell Children’s Hospital.
Q: What’s a skill you want to master and why?
TM: I would really like to learn how to write computer code and learn how to develop apps. It would be great to know how to take an idea and turn it into a digital product. Even if I don’t learn how to create a product from scratch it would be nice to understand what goes into making a great digital product.
Q: What books are currently on your nightstand?
TM: The First Tycoon, The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (I went to Vanderbilt University so it’s interesting to learn about the founder) Casino Healthcare by Dan Munro who writes for Forbes and Bad Blood (a lesson for anyone developing new technology).
Q: Who inspires you and why?
TM: For me, it’s the patients that I get to take care of. I work primarily in a Level 1 Trauma Center and when I get to see patients come back after terrible accidents and they are doing well it is very inspiring. Seeing the resilience of people can be very inspiring. Just when I think that I’m having a rough go of things, I see one of these patients and realize that I’m very lucky.
Q: What game show would you be great at?
TM: It is an old one but it was called Super Password. I like playing games like Taboo or Pictionary and the show was a lot like those games. Ultimately it goes back to communication and how well you can get another person to understand what your thoughts are.
Q: Tell me about a challenge you face in clinical consulting?
TM: I would say one of the hardest things is delivering bad news. I work with some early-stage companies and it’s always hard to tell someone that their idea may not be a good one. Leveraging my experience in the clinical and administrative space helps me to see how a product can or cannot make it in day to day clinical practice. While the idea itself may be noble, such as reducing pain, the realities of bringing that idea to market sometimes escape new companies.
Q: What’s the worst job you’ve ever had, and what did you learn from that experience?
TM: I’ve been pretty lucky in that I don’t feel like I’ve ever had a bad job. Each one was fun in different ways, from working in a restaurant to working as a clinical assistant in the operating room. The biggest takeaway I had from those jobs is that teamwork always makes the job better. If we had a bad team, it was no fun. Those lessons carry over to my work today. When we have a great OR team it seems like the day flies by.
Q: If you had a time machine, would you go back in time, or into the future? Why?
TM: Definitely the future! I would love to see the solutions for the world’s current problems, from disease eradication to how travel happens. I feel like you can learn about history so why go back. The future is where I would learn the most and I would find it so interesting to see how challenges that we currently face are solved.
The Physician Innovation Network thanks Dr. Tony Manuel for his robust participation in our community and for his innovative work in the health tech space.