As a physician, you know better than anyone what types of technology could help improve your daily practice. If you’ve ever had an innovative idea or wanted to be involved in testing new technology, these key insights from physician entrepreneurs are for you.


A special panel at the health technology incubator MATTER in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart brought physician innovators together to share the insights they’ve gleaned through developing new products, companies and investments. Here are their top three insights:

While the business and clinical worlds may be different, your unique insights as a physician are valuable, said Tom Schwieterman, MD, founder of ChartScribe and medical director at Midmark Corporation. After seeing patients all day, “you get pretty good at reading subtle clues,” he said. “You’re a scientist, you’re dealing with complex, multidimensional data …. You have to be able to make decisions very quickly and be confident.”

If a tech innovation doesn’t fit into clinical work flow, it won’t succeed, said James Cantorna, MD, director of quality and integration at Medical Specialists of Indiana. Dr. Cantorna said he relies on “access, affability and excellence” as a litmus test for new ideas “If it impedes those three things, it’s not good,” he said. Dr. Schweiterman explained part of the design process for his software. “I invariably sent things back two or three times and said, ‘I know this works, but you have to move it around because that is not how most of us practice medicine,’” he said. “Make sure physicians who are helping you trust their instincts. It has to be simple, it has to be fluid and it has to be in the work flow of a doctor.”

“In the clinical area, failure is not something where you’ll have a long-lasting career,” said James Kelly, MD, founder of Cascade Partners. “But guess what happens when you try something that really hasn’t been done before? You find out things, and sometimes you fail.” One way physicians may be able to handle failure is to liken it to peer review, said Ajeet Singh, a medical student at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and medical advisor at Varsa Health. “Get your proof of concept and drill it through a rigorous peer review stage,” he said.

MATTER co-founder David Schonthal, who moderated the panel, had a final message for physicians: “We built this place for you,” he said, stressing that innovations in health tech will require that entrepreneurs “understand how you practice, how you live, how you desire your flow of work to exist and what you want to change in your practice. Do not be a stranger. We’re counting on you.”

The AMA built flexible space in MATTER for physicians to test new models for health care delivery. Called the AMA Interaction Studio, the space will give physicians the ability to connect directly with entrepreneurs. The collaboration gives clinicians—who may not have business training to navigate the startup space—a way to take their big ideas to market. The collaboration also provides a way to make sure physicians can positively influence health care innovation.

The AMA Interaction Studio will be designed with the physical and virtual infrastructures that will simulate a health care environment. Advanced video and audio technologies will give users of the space a way to better understand work flows and how new products and services will fit into the health care delivery environment of the future.

The partnership with MATTER reflects a commitment to investigate long-term paths to practice sustainability and professional satisfaction through research, data and analytics. The AMA is identifying effective care delivery and payment models that can improve the quality of patient care, reduce health care costs for the nation and increase professional satisfaction. Facilitating physician innovations is crucial in that process.

Interested in attending an event like this one? Keep an eye on the AMA’s upcoming events. AMA members were able to attend this $500 event free of charge as a member benefit. If you’re not an AMA member, join today.

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