Navigating the Business of Healthcare Innovation: Where do I start?
As medical students enter residency and fellowships, they often notice opportunities to improve clinical care with new innovations and they look for partners and resources who can help bring those ideas to life. The Physician Innovation Network is part of the AMA’s mission to position technology as an asset rather than an administrative burden. This virtual, asynchronous panel discussion will chronicle multiple avenues young physicians can take to influence the development of health care technology and provide a space for innovators from all backgrounds to connect and form collaborations.
I currently am pursuing an MBA so I can sort of speak to that. Purely in terms of innovation I dont think an MBA is necessary. There are plenty of physicians who have been innovators without needing an MBA. An MBA is quite helpful for the business world and if you wanted to run your business. However again it isn't absolutely necessary but may make the journey slightly easier. For me personally my goal was to either be a clinician leader in a large healthcare system or a physician entrepreneur. I felt that the MBA would be helpful for both paths. It could have shortened the time to be promoted to leadership position in a large medical center and it could have helped me learn the necessary skills to build and run a business.
What went into my decision was the cost and the time of an MBA. Luckily as a resident and fellow the MBA was discounted by 50%. So the lower cost made the decision a bit easier. But still it is a large time commitment. I think if I had to pay full price, I would have to think long and hard about doing an MBA.
The MBA has been helpful in innovation to open doors, meet teammates, as well as learn some of the basics of starting and building a start up. But a lot of the content I think can be learned on the job.
Ultimately I don't think having an MBA is going to be the deciding factor on whether you succeed or not in the health innovation space. It can certainly help. If the opportunity cost of getting one isn't extreme, then it could be worthwhile. The benefit of an MBA are increased if you are interested in a physician executive role since it is an easy way to prove your skill and value add without years and years of experience.
I am currently pursuing a joint MD/MS in Clinical Informatics so I can address this question too. I agree with everything that Michael said before me, I actually came into medical school planning to get a dual MD/MBA but received some really helpful advice before starting.
First, I was told that some residency programs may hold an MBA against you when applying because you are considered a flight-risk after finishing, though this seems like less of an important factor for you right now. The second piece of advice was ‘is the knowledge you gain absolutely required to achieve what you want to achieve?’ For me, I realized that I did not want to become the CEO or director of a start-up business, so the business learning was not relevant for me. I had a chance to reflect on where I saw my career going and after deciding that I cared about the technology than the business-side, I was able to pivot to a more relevant and fulfilling degree!
I think the best question to ask yourself is why do you want the degree? If you are hoping to learn more about a particular area of medicine, such as hospital administration or public health, than an additional degree might allow you to view medicine from a new perspective and grow in that area. However, if you are looking to get a degree just to add letters at the end of your name, I think Michael said it perfectly:, a lot of the content can be learned on the job.
Side Note: If you are considering an additional degree, always reach out to your school/residency program as they may offer financial support or even full funding!