Saul Marquez, Host at Outcomes Rocket Podcast

Physician Entrepreneurship in the New Era of Healthcare

Monday May 24th 2021

Physician Entrepreneurship in the New Era of Healthcare

two males in white coat with stethoscope and a woman in green scrubs


We live in a time of healthcare transformation, thanks to the many innovative ideas and startups in the past years. Innovations happen when care providers, patients, and patient’s families face difficult situations that need better solutions.


When  Dr. John Shufeldt entered medical school, it was with the clear goal to make a difference in people’s lives. He felt that it was a role he was born to do. He enjoyed practicing medicine and helping people, but it also opened his eyes to a range of problems and unmet needs, which led him to create solutions. That’s the start of John’s evolution to physician entrepreneurship. 


One of his early ventures was NextCare Urgent Care, an urgent-care clinic in the Mesa area, which grew into a giant with more than 60 clinics in the span of 15 years. He eventually sold the company but did not stop creating new solutions to improve healthcare. 


MeMD – Delivering Convenient Care While Reducing Costs


A week after John sold NextCare, he started MeMD, a virtual care company to provide online consultations. Getting into a primary care office often took weeks and many patients simply needed advice or a script refilled.  John’s goal was to find a solution for those patients who did not have a doctor for a friend to get quick advice or  a prescription. 


John saw there were plenty of patients in the emergency department and urgent care centers that can be taken care of easily, virtually. “You can get an education online, you do your banking online. This is the future of health care. Not all health care but for a lot of health care.” John said. This was in 2010, so you can imagine how strange this concept was back then. Despite this, he persisted. 


“We built it up over time,” John recalled.  “And before the pandemic, we had about four and a half million subscribers. And then, of course, last year it just took off like a rocket.”


MeMD offers telehealth services for primary care, chronic care, 24/7 urgent care, and mental health. This virtual care company helps patients feel better and get better, no matter where the patients are located, any time of the day. Because it’s telehealth, patients don’t have to go to the clinic and wait for a long time in the patient room. This is a great benefit since patients don’t need to take a day off from work or wait for more than hours for a doctor’s appointment. They can get it at the time they chose, and for a significantly lower cost than many walk-in clinics. 


The application process in MeMD is simple and intuitive. With only four steps, a patient can have access to a physician, anytime. MeMD was recently acquired by Walmart as part of their Omnihealth Strategy. 


TribalEM – Transforming Healthcare for Indigenous People


Sometimes, some solutions come by accident. When John was hired to be the CMO of a hospital on a reservation 90 miles from Phoenix,  he wanted to make sure that they had access to board certified physicians which meant flying specialists up from the Valley every week. To accomplish this, he contracted with a helicopter transport service; however, sometimes when needed, he would fly them up himself.   


“Instead of  tribal members driving 90 miles down to the valley, the specialist and physicians would fly up there. We transport them up there once or twice a month in a helicopter from Phoenix and it just made all the difference in the world since many of the patients had a difficult time traveling to and from the Reservation down to Phoenix .” John said. 


Because the providers were coming up, the hospital did not have to figure out a way to get folks down to the valley and back home after their appointment.  The transportation of physicians and specialists to the patients made a huge impact on the care being delivered to the tribe. Then John found out that other tribes also had challenges getting the best available emergency department care.  Those facts led to the birth of Tribal EM. 


Tribal EM is a medical management and staffing company that works only on indigenous lands. The company works exclusively with Tribal and Federal healthcare facilities throughout the US to lead, manage, and staff emergency departments. Its vision is to provide efficient and high-quality patient care with an emphasis on cultural sensitivity. 


When asked about the impact of Tribal EM, John replied, “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in healthcare because I feel like I’m making a multigenerational difference to a population of incredibly well-deserving patients who were often marginalized secondary to their physical location.”


Entrepreneur RX: The Physicians’ Guide to Starting a Business


Being both a doctor and an entrepreneur means double the fun, and over the years, John has learned much both from failures and success. All his experiences as an entrepreneur have honed his skills and helped him be a leading expert in medical entrepreneurship.  He wants to share his knowledge with those who want to venture into the entrepreneurial world. 


His book “Entrepreneur RX: The Physician’s Guide to Starting a Business” is coming out June 1st, and it is packed with strategies that helped him develop and nurture his successful businesses. If you want to be confident in your entrepreneurial journey, this book is for you.


To learn more about Dr. John Shufeldt, you can visit his website at johnshufeldtmd.com.


Listen to my exciting interview with John here: https://outcomesrocket.health/john-shufeldt/2021/03/

Written By

Saul Marquez

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