Six months ago, I made the decision to join a digital health startup, after directing the inpatient EHR roll-out at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Children’s Hospital. This may not seem that surprising: there is a lot of discussion lately of the growing dissatisfaction among doctors with the healthcare system, and “digital dropouts” leaving medicine to work in tech.
The difference is that I am neither 28 nor right out of residency. I’m a 40-year-old healthcare executive who is squarely mid-career, and I did not make the change for the usual reasons: the lure of money, job dissatisfaction, etc. I loved my job at UCSF, and in fact, I continue to see patients there. So why did I leave a promising academic career for a riskier role at a startup? Because we need more seasoned clinicians at the front lines of digital health to get us to scale. Our institutions have made huge financial investments, and now it’s time for us to make a more personal commitment.