Dr Felix Jackson is an anaesthetist by background and self-described ‘bootstrap’ entrepreneur. Since Felix’s previous interview with Doctorpreneurs, he has further developed medDigital, a UK-based digital medical communications agency, and launched medCrowd. medCrowd is a messaging technology that facilitates communication between patients and health/social care workers. I interviewed Felix at the Doctorpreneurs Start Up School, London.
Video interview here.
In your previous interview with Doctorpreneurs there was a focus on medDigital, your medical communications company. You mentioned that your aim was ‘to revolutionise healthcare with digital communications’. Have you been successful in that?
We are being successful in that, in 2 ways.
Firstly, as a business we encourage clients to think differently and conduct their activities in new ways. Secondly, medCrowd is a revolution – we are unique and different to anything else.
Revolutions require change. What have been the challenges or unforeseen barriers to change?
Healthcare is extremely complex and slow moving, largely because the requirements that need to be met are extremely complex. Compliance with regulations is one example. You will not and cannot succeed unless you are compliant.
You will not and cannot succeed unless you are compliant.
How have you overcome the challenges you have faced?
Become an expert. Work really hard so you know what you are talking about. You can do this by working with people who are experts; those on the coalface doing the do. Let them help you navigate through the complexity until you are able to deliver a product that meets a real need.
You were one of the few selected to join the first cohort at the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator. What were the advantages of this accelerator programme?
I thought that it was excellent. It was superb. It enabled me to turn an unproven idea into an actual product that was ready to go to market. In fact, the idea for medCrowd came out of it. The Accelerator allows you to network with all the right people; something that would have taken me years to do alone. They have experts advising on products and people around to talk through ideas. Also, the length of the programme is a year as opposed to several months, which some of its competitors offer, but the health sector is complex and the full time is needed!
The Accelerator allows you to network with all the right people; something that would have taken me years to do alone
I guess the only downside is it takes up quite a lot of time to participate on the programme but it is all valuable so completely worth it!
medCrowd is a communication tool for health and social care workers, how do you compete with the likes of WhatsApp, an instant messaging app currently used by many clinicians to communicate with one another?
Well it is clear that WhatsApp is not compliant. Health professionals know that if they share the name of a patient in WhatsApp, they have broken a rule. It is just a matter of time before someone gets in trouble. WhatsApp is not effectively encrypted, not password protected, uses US servers…the list goes on. Therefore they shouldn’t be using it. We provide health professionals with medCrowd which is a better and compliant option. We go to them with that, and they don’t say no!
And how does medDigital differ from other medical communication agencies?
We are experts with both digital and scientific knowledge. Traditional scientific agencies don’t understand the digital side of things and digital agencies don’t really understand the life science industry. Our USP is that we understand both.
You are someone who appears comfortable with taking risks. To date, you have taken risks that seem to have paid off. Do you have any advice on risk-taking as an entrepreneur?
Don’t take stupid risks. Don’t mortgage your house. Don’t be unethical or immoral. These things will come back and bite, and are not good risks to take. That said, in being an entrepreneur you need to have a huge appetite for risk. It’s a killer world out there and you can fail.
I think about it a bit like this.
Being an entrepreneur is not like taking risks as people do for us in the military. You are not risking your life like they are. As an entrepreneur, if it goes wrong, so long as you haven’t mortgaged your house or been unethical or immoral, the only risk is having to find a different job!
In being an entrepreneur you need to have a huge appetite for risk. It’s a killer world out there and you can fail.
Do you consider completing your MRCA post graduate qualification has benefited your entrepreneurial activities?
Yes, but if you want to be an entrepreneur, get on with it, and start spending time with your customers.
There are a number of different routes to think about.
- ‘Full-on’ Entrepreneur – qualifications are not relevant. You need a good understanding of your customer, so working as a doctor for a few years may be important to develop this understanding.
- Medical Director – you will need your GMC qualifications. Other than that, all else is icing on the cake. More medical expertise, however, increases your credibility and earning potential.
- ‘Part-Time’ or ‘Later-Starter’ – Post graduate qualifications like the UK MRCA/MRCP/MRCS etc enable you to increase your experience and earning capacity overall. This way, you can increase your earnings and earn enough money to fund your start-up! And, during your training you might see an opportunity that others miss.
Is there a health start-up that you are you particularly excited by?
Echo, the prescription app. They are sorting out repeat prescriptions, which so needs to be done. A piece of paper in a box? Who has the time to go to GP surgery to put paper in box to get their medications!?
Who has the time to go to GP surgery to put paper in box to get their medications!?