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Stanford University School of Medicine

Getting an MD? Here’s why you also need business skills

blood-pressure-1573037_1920Business skills such as teamwork, leadership and data analysis are becoming increasingly important for physicians, Christopher Krubert, MD, MBA, argues in a recent Stanford Graduate School of Business Q&A.

Now a partner with a private equity firm, Krubert didn't set out to build a career that mixed business and medicine. "I went into medicine with the 'country doctor' ideal in mind," Krubert said. "But I realized pretty quickly the complexity of being a practitioner makes it impossible to focus solely on clinical care. You can't get away from it. And that world has gotten even more complicated in the past 20 years."

Industry consolidation and health-care policy charges are a few of the reasons that business skills are increasingly important, Krubert says. But there are others, too:

Think about the logistics of patient care today. Because we can keep people alive longer and the population is aging, those people naturally have more medical complexity. And then there's the obesity trend; it's rising across the U.S. Both of those realities trigger multi-disease states -- diabetes, heart disease, pulmonary issues, musculoskeletal issues, psychosocial issues, to name a few. The patient may require many specialists, and someone has to coordinate that care.


And the treatments themselves are getting more complicated. Gene therapy, more complex pharmaceutical and therapeutic options. All that's good, but it's getting harder for a doctor to keep up with all of it. Being part of a larger group can provide the resources a doctor needs to optimize care.

Krubert believes that building a four-week "business" rotation into medical school curriculums is a good start. But he also believes that practicing physicians will -- with a bit of guidance -- be able to navigate the ever-changing business of medicine:

[Physicians] understand the value proposition of running a smart business: Their patient gets better care, they earn a good living, and their life gets easier. They're very responsive to rational choices and are willing to make changes if the outcomes are better.

Previously: Physician entrepreneurs do best when paired with non-doctors, Stanford study findsWhy I'm doing an MD/MBA and What do health care, Uber, and Airbnb have in common? A talk on networked medicine
Photo by WerbeFabrik

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