From Medicine to Healthcare Technology Innovator
Doctify’s ultra cool head office, just round the corner from Camden market, is a testament to their success as a small business. It was there that Medic Footprints’ latest networking event took place: ‘From Medicine to Healthcare Technology Innovator’.
I always enjoy hearing the founders of Doctify speak; the passion and enthusiasm with which orthopaedic juniors Suman Shah and Stephanie Elzt run their business is infectious, and now that I work in a start-up myself, I feel I can appreciate what they do on a deeper level.
how did they meet?
Suman and Stephanie met in the hospital they were both working at, when orthopaedic registrar Suman bleeped the orthopaedic SHO on call to ask her to do a discharge summary, and an angry German voice responded telling him she was too busy. After that, Suman and Stephanie friendship blossomed, and upon creating a business with him she finally, as she said, got to be his boss!
As well as the founders, the whole team from Doctify were there, from their CEO to their marketing manager and their web developer. It’s a young, diverse and passionate team, and their drive to make the business work is palpable. Suman and Stephanie have pulled out all the stops to get the very best people. They’ve even gone as far New York to find their tech team!
They know their own limits, so they ask people who are experts to conduct part of the interview when they hire new people. For two such intelligent and dynamic people, their humility is admirable.
When you’re setting up a business, says Suman, There are a lot of unknown unknowns!
So what do they do?
Well, after struggling to get an appointment with a specialist Consultant herself, Stephanie decided to do something about it. Now their online platform, linking clients with a range of private specialists, with reviews available. It’s something like an Uber for doctors, really, and it forms part of the wave of healthcare technology that is transforming the UK.
They are conscientious entrepreneurs too, protecting their customer data with only the best security systems, and familiarising themselves with the legalities surrounding healthcare businesses.
We hired a security consultant who works for the government, says Stephanie, I secretly think he might be a spy…
working two jobs and doing what it takes
When you listen to their story, you start to understand the lengths they have gone to in order to make this work, and when you take into account the fact that they both still work full time for the NHS, it’s astounding that they’ve managed to do this at all.
I have no social life, says Stephanie, When I’m not in the hospital, I’m working on the business. I speak to my mum on the phone about once a week, and I don’t really have time to go out, but that’s a decision I made.
Thankfully for them, the Doctify team seems a close-knit unit, and Suman jokes that they have replaced his friends! You can tell they’re both doctors; that dedication, discipline and willingness to give up sleep might well be seen by some as crazy, but they love what they do and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
They’ve had their fair share of opposition: moving into the private sector in this way could be seen as a taboo, and their very existence has caused offence to some – once an investor actually had a hissy fit when they explained their purpose! Thankfully, not everyone had this attitude, and now they’ve completed two full rounds of investment.
the medtech revolution
They’ve picked a good time to do it as well; these days the government is supporting early start ups by incentivising investors to take risks. There are also schemes for reclaiming developmental costs and a range of government grants to apply for. Even legal issues can be solved, as some lawyers are willing to defer their fee until the company they helped to set up can pay them back.
It was never about money for Suman and Stephanie, though. They were continually disappointed by the red tape and bureaucracy of the NHS, and now for the first time, they have full control of their own destinies, and they’re not relying on anyone else to bring their ideas to fruition. Handling two jobs is, in their own words, a huge challenge, but Suman jokes that he’s finding the process so exciting that he barely notices that he has no free time!
what does success look like?
When we asked them what success would look like for them, Stephanie revealed her dream of having a sustainable business that employed a lot of people and had a good working culture. Suman imagines a future in which Doctify helps hundreds of thousands of patients find the right doctor for them.
I can’t help but marvel that the frustration and dissatisfaction they felt working in the NHS was the driving force for them to do something their way. They say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and Doctify looks set to squeeze for a long time yet!