Doctorpreneurs: Dr Andreas Obermair
Doctorpreneurs of Doctology is pleased this week to showcase an interview with Dr Andreas Obermair.
Andreas is a gynaecological oncologist in Brisbane, originally from Austria, and founder of Surgical Performance.
He established the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer Research based at The University of Queensland and leads internationally recognised research into more effective and less invasive treatments for gynaecological cancer.
What organisation / startup did you found?
I started SurgicalPerformance.com to address a personal unmet need. I simply wanted to know how good I am doing my job as a surgeon. I was desperate for a tool that shows my patient outcomes and I wanted to compare those outcomes to my colleagues without revealing anyone’s identity.
What is its noble purpose?
SurgicalPerformance will have an impact on doctors and patients. Surgical specialists will find an enhanced sense of meaning when they are able to check on how many procedures they have done and what outcomes s/he achieved.
For patients, it’s also a win because the risk of surgery-related complications decreases by more than 30% after using SurgicalPerformance for 6 months.
Tell me about the first 10 years of your life?
I am the oldest of three children, raised in Austria in a small village on the river Danube. My mum worried about me when I was a baby because I would not put on weight as an infant, a problem I don’t experience any more (haha). I had to be admitted to hospital for feeding, which was before parents were allowed to stay with their kids.
Growing up in the first ten years, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. We went on bear hunts (I learned later there were no bears where we lived), he told me fairy tales and when I was sick with the flu, he had to operate on me; he pretended cutting up my tummy with a wooden spoon, stir the guts in the tummy and then sew up again. We did that countless times. I enjoyed this play like nothing else.
What age were you when you had your first paying job? What was it?
My first job was at age 15 years at the Post delivery service. I had a small moped and delivered letters, parcels and pay checks to people in my village. I felt so privileged.
What made you want to be a Doctor and what speciality did you choose?
When completing the mandatory civil service at an ambulance station I made friends with a paramedic who studied medicine. He allowed me to read his text books. I had not come across anything more interesting in my entire live before. From that time, I was hooked.
Amongst all specialities, O&G (Obstetrics & Gynaecology) was my favourite. However, I believed then only women should do it. I did an internship at a hospital where the service was run poorly. They ran such a poor service that I thought I could do a much better job, regardless of my gender. My then girlfriend (now wife) gave me permission, which was critical to me also.
What made you want to be an Entrepreneur? When exactly did you decide?
I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. I simply find solutions for unsolved problems.
The first time I saw my real SurgicalPerformance data on my computer screen, I felt an immense feeling of power. It was like having your first bank account. I knew what and how many procedures I had done; I knew my outcomes; and I could indeed compare myself against others. I felt so immensely empowered.
Are you still practicing as a Doctor now? If yes do you intend to stop if your organisation takes off?
I am a very active gynaecological oncologist in Brisbane, seeing more than 350 new patients with gynaecological cancer every year and also running a gynaecological cancer research centre. I plan to continue that because only the synthesis of both, surgery and innovation, makes sense.
Why do you think traditionally many Doctors struggle with entrepreneurship?
I am not sure if doctors struggle with entrepreneurship. Many doctors start alternative professions that complement their main job. Some breed cattle, others grow wine. These activities give us “me time”, allow us to reflect on life and make us better humans.
What is your favourite quote?
My granddad used to say “Nothing comes of nothing” and I totally believe in that. If you do nothing your chance of improving things, creating solutions, or helping yourself or others, is ZERO.
What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?
Relax for myself and worry for my wife and my children. I have had such a good life that I could go at any time.