Physicians contribute to medical-device innovation, as evidenced by the fact that physicians were responsible for almost 20% of approximately 26,000 medical-device patents filed in the U.S. from 1990-'96.
Most of these contributors are practicing physicians in orthopedics, general surgery and cardiology. Having a physician as a co-inventor on the patent increases the impact of the patent and its dissemination to other industries.
The obvious conclusion is that having physicians involved in the innovation pathway accelerates medical-device innovation. While evidence is scant, the same probably holds true in other areas such as digital health, care delivery and business process innovation.
The Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, founded in January 2011, is a global physician-led, not-for-profit biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship network. Members include physicians, service providers, investors, industry representatives, academics, economic development professionals and others interested in accelerating global health innovation, removing the barriers to physician-industry collaboration and supporting non-academic physician-led discovery, development and commercialization.
SoPE provides education, resources and networks to members via multiple platforms, including our online learning platform at SoPEU on our website, SoPE Magazine, SoPE Box Radio, social media sites on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn (approaching 3,800 members) and YouTube, local chapters throughout the world offering regularly scheduled education and networking events, annual meetings and satellite events in cooperation with other medical societies. A recent testimonial demonstrates our value to members:
"As a direct result of being involved in SoPE, I've been able to make introductions for one entrepreneur that will turbocharge his efforts to develop a mobile medical application, been directly involved in funding two physician entrepreneurs and working with two others on significant national opportunities, so there are definitely tremendous resources available through this group."
There are several trends driving the growth of SoPE, including:
- Physicians who are dissatisfied with just clinical practice are looking for ways to make their ideas a reality.
- Medical societies are looking for ways to generate non-dues revenue and create value for their members.
- The biomedical-industrial complex has come to the recognition that excluding the two most important elements of the innovation chain—patients and doctors—does not work in its interest.
- The turbulent global healthcare environment, particularly in the U.S., demands innovative and entrepreneurial solutions that cannot be achieved by excluding major participants, such as doctors and patients, in the process.
- Almost all practicing physicians have great ideas about how to improve things. They just don’t know what to do with them.
- Investors look to physicians as domain experts and as sensitive to the needs of the marketplace.
Despite its impressive growth, the acid test of whether SoPE has been successful will be whether it catalyzed results at three levels—whether it helped physician entrepreneurs and associates innovate, whether the resulting innovations improve quality, reduce costs, improve access or population health, and whether the results have helped drive local economies to create companies, jobs and other metrics of economic growth and well-being.
If you are interested in biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship, I encourage you to join us at sopenet.org
and on social-media sites. Together, we can innovate our way out of this mess.
Dr. Arlen Meyers
Professor of otolaryngology, engineering and dentistry
University of Colorado
Founder, CEO and president
Society of Physician Entrepreneurs