Is there life after urology? Entrepreneurs say yes

February 1, 2009

Today, a number of urologists are leaving their clinical practices to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors.

Key Points

This article will explore this trend by profiling five urologists who have ventured into the business side of medicine. Some acted out of necessity, while others sought to fill an unmet need in the marketplace. Hopefully, their experiences and advice will serve as a guide if you consider the possibility of medical entrepreneurship.

Taking a business perspective

Practice Pearls ( http://www.practicepearls.com/ ) is a series of online business skills seminars designed expressly for doctors. The goal is to provide physicians with the business skills they were never exposed to during their medical training.

The challenges faced by entrepreneurs are similar to those faced by physicians, Dr. Allen says.

"Corporate savvy is no longer the sole purview of industry," he said. "To sustain a viable practice, doctors must learn how to stem patient attrition, defuse employee stress, mollify the litigiously inclined, prepare the staff for a secure retirement, scrutinize contracts, and still keep pace with breaking developments in the field."

Filling an unmet need

Bruce Gilbert, MD, is a urologist in Great Neck, NY. He is also the founder and CEO of LifeLab Solutions, Inc. ( http://www.lifelabsolutions.com/), which is a comprehensive resource for the human tissue banking industry. As a clinical urologist with expertise in andrology, Dr. Gilbert developed an andrology lab and had it certified by Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments and accredited as a referral lab by the American Association of Tissue Banks for sperm donors and those interested in sperm banking.

Utilizing his background in computers and engineering, Dr. Gilbert also developed a software program to monitor the data in the lab. When he was asked by other urologists for advice on setting up a lab for their practices, he knew there was a market for this service. He soon created a joint venture with a software company to manage the large amount of data created within a tissue lab.

He later hired his son, Jason, a certified public accountant with an MS in accounting, to become LifeLab's chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

Dr. Gilbert still practices andrology, but spends 50% of his time running LifeLab Solutions, which offers sperm banking, sperm processing, in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination, and embryo transfer services. He has clients throughout the nation and soon may offer the lab's services internationally. Dr. Gilbert notes that he can help a new tissue bank get started in 3 months.

Dr. Gilbert advises budding entrepreneurs to seek the advice of experts for the non-medical-financial, marketing, regulatory, legal, and insurance-aspects of their venture. Doctors are trained to be captains of their ship, but even captains often don't know how to set the sail or row the boat.

Dr. Gilbert truly embodies the entrepreneur's creed: Find an unfilled niche in the market, become an expert, and fill that need.