Medical Doctor (and) or Entrepreneur ?

Both (?)

As part of my Master EdTech curriculum, I had the chance to attend the entrepreneurship week, coordinated by Margaux Pelen (Edtech strategist & Marketer / Entrepreneur, former Executive Director of HEC Paris Entrepreneurship Center). It was for me a really new and enriching experience since I came from nowhere and knew nothing about economy, business model canvas , users interview, etc. as a Medical Doctor, so I had everything to learn!

My entrepreneurial self

First, I have learned about myself because it confirmed what I already had sensed, meaning I have probably an entrepreneurial soul.

Most of the time, if you say “entrepreneur” people will directly think about folks with suits who have created a company and are driven by greed, or maybe that was my own stereotype. But for me now, an entrepreneur could be this, but is more than this.

Being an entrepreneur doesn’t need to create a company, it’s taking risks, being passionate about a subject and having the will to bring something new. It is reflecting, undertaking, trying, missing, assuming, learning, creating something new. Something that has never been done or invented before or just a new approach to something already existing.

Why do I feel so ?

Before coming to the Master EdTech at the CRI, I have led the creation of a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) in Paris during 2 years. I chose to create it because I wasn’t satisfied about the different places where I could practice as a Family Physician.

The problem was that I wanted to “take Health and Medicine out of the medical office,” so I decided to create a new place using the framework of PCMHs and adapting it to a neighbourhood that counts for me, the 20th arrondissement of Paris.

I wanted to create something new, I took some risks investing time on it and I have learned a lot on myself, it was my first experience of entrepreneurship.

What about now (and when I was 9 years old) ?

During this week and the Master, I have noticed that I am thrilled when it comes about trying to find new solutions to an existing problem, taking some risks to try to tackle this issue and getting out of my comfort zone.

Actually, I have wanted to be a researcher since I was 9 years old, and we can find many similarities between a researcher and an entrepreneur. They both observe realities and contexts, document it, establish a state of the art , a bibliography or a benchmarking depending on the vocabulary.

Then they identify friction points, problems, questions that they want to solve and emit an hypothesis. To check the validity of this hypothesis, they design a research protocol and get some results by making a prototype and getting the users’ feedback.

Last but not least, after having interpreted the results/the feedback, they both have to open their reflection and imagine new hypotheses, new solutions to solve the problems they have identified. Sometimes it enables them to adjust their view of the problem they have decided to broach and even find new problems to solve they would have never thought about.

Maybe I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was 9 years old after all ?

The users’ interviews

Then, the moment that mattered to me the most was the users’ interviews, because it truly confronted the concept, the abstract idea of a product to the reality of users.

It gave some new perspectives on how to reach our goal, and I will detail how the perception of the user has evolved over the week. I felt that when you create something, it is important to keep your deep values as a guide, a framework, a motive, but at the same time your objective has to be meaningful for the future users and many paths could lead to the same destination.

The initial idea of the project was to conceive a connected bracelet that would track the duration and the frequency of the meals in order to give a feedback to the users and allow them to motivate themselves to eat slow enough and not to snack between the meals.

We defined the personas of our product, which were young workers, technophiles and concerned about their health on one side, and health professionals on the other side.

Indeed, we wanted and still want our product to reinforce the existing care relationship between patients and health professionals, as it is an already working and valuable resource when we think about health education.

The interviews were quite disturbing because it called into question our basic proposition.

In fact, spontaneously neither saw the interest in eating slower. They understood it after explaining and giving scientific references, but still didn’t think it was an important topic.

Both users and health professionals wanted to have a more global approach on health, not just about eating slower. They needed to centralize resources, advice, and not to have an application for each field ( nutrition, physical activity, etc…). They valued the use of the smartphone as a favourite medium.

It contradicted the initial hypothesis that to be successful and efficient we need to approach health education in a siloed perspective and the presupposed use of a connected wearable.

Some users didn’t want to be tracked, and others would accept it but integrated to some existing solution such as physical activity trackers.
 Health professionals didn’t see as an advantage the fact of being automatically tracked; for them the implication of the patient is the most important even if data lacks or is incomplete.

To pivot the model and keep going

Starting from this iteration, we have completely pivoted our project from a wearable tracking automatically duration and frequency of meals to an application giving advice about healthy habits in an involving and motivating way.

We have accepted all the feedback from the two type of users, even if it was unpleasant, we have synthesized it and completely changed our model. That’s probably the most effective thing we did this iteration. Our biggest impediment was not to have a viable prototype for the users to try it because the concept would have been more informed and potentially more rich.

The next steps of the project will be first to build a quick prototype of this application, in order to present it to potential users, mentors at the CRI . Then we will have the opportunity to conduct some new users’ interviews and get some feedback for the next steps of the iterative process and so as to better define our solution.

When we’ll think that the product is mature enough, we could build a launch page so that we could get some funding, meet some potential investors or financial support such as from the French Public Health organization Santé Publique France or any other partner who will be on the same wavelength.

The journey keeps going …

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