📝 Doctorpreneurs: Dr Marc Belej 👨🌾
This week's Doctorpreneur of Doctology is Dr Marc Belej.
Marc is a digital healthcare expert, clinician, full stack software creator and executive leader.
What organisation / startup did you found?
I co-founded Core Medical Solutions which was acquired by Allscripts for whom I am currently Vice President of Innovation.
What is its noble purpose? To make digital healthcare useful for clinicians and patients.
Tell me about the first 10 years of your life?
It was a rustic life on the land. Whilst my father grew crops and cattle, and Mum tended our family, I looked forward to the next book, fishing with Dad or day-dreaming about the wider world.
What age were you when you had your first paying job? What was it? I got paid for work occasionally on our farm, especially for picking during harvest but it was always a little strange, as family are supposed to work for free.
My first real paid job was doing the same for a property a couple of farms over.
What made you want to be a Doctor and what specialty did you choose? Why? I was always attracted to the sciences and reasonably good at them through school and raised to believe in careers that have a vocational calling.
Doctors were the epitome of status and respect in my upbringing from an Irish and Ukrainian heritage in a semi-rural community. I was going to pursue a surgical career originally, then pivoted to intensive care. Both kinds of doctor intervene at critical moments in healthcare journeys and make a difference.
What made you want to be an Entrepreneur or follow an alternative route? When exactly did you decide?
As a young doctor presented with the harsh realities of the next decade and more of speciality training, and deep in the healthcare disillusionment beautifully encapsulated in The House of God and This is Going to Hurt, the lure of the dotcom boom and the imminent digital disruption of healthcare was just too attractive.
It was not a decisive thing though. I enrolled in a Computer Science course on the side of "real work" because I was bored and did not want to commit to predictable surgical or anaesthetics traineeships.
That choice led to co-founding a digital healthcare startup with a friend of similar mindset. Whilst clinical work continued, in increasingly part-time/cover varieties, eventually entrepreneurialism and the new company took over more of my waking and sleeping hours.
Ultimately life crises almost a decade later made me realise I could do both and I cut the cord on clinical work.
Are you still practicing as a Doctor now? If yes, do you intend to stop if your organisation or project takes off?
I have not practised clinically since 2009. It is easy to say now when my back is not to the wall, but it is better to understand and acknowledge your values and passions and choose your direction than it is to wait for somebody else to decide that your project has taken off and can be your real job now.
As a 25 year-old junior doctor in 2001 considering a specialty, I figured that spending a couple of years to find out if digital healthcare innovation was more more my thing, could at worst only leave me as a 27 year-old junior doctor considering a speciality.
Turns out that what happens is that clear signals of success or failure are harder to find than that, and definitely do not come on the schedule you planned.
What are your favourite quotes?
It is more than one quote, but all of Tim Minchin's UWA Address of "9 Life Lessons".
"You don't have to have a dream".
"Don't seek happiness. Happiness is like an orgasm. Think about it too much and it goes away".
"Remember it's all luck".
"Exercise" (so you sleep and don't get overcome by existential angst).
"Be hard on your opinions".
"Be a teacher".
"Define yourself by what you love".
"Respect people with less power than you".
I am terrible at all of these, but they are the truths I keep coming back to. Tim Minchin seems a genius modern philosopher. At least he makes me laugh.
What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?
Arrange a mechanism at scale to get zombies walking on power-generating treadmills, forever chasing rabbits.
If zombies can defy Newton like the movies then the apocalypse is actually free energy and a perpetual motion machine. Maybe a zombie-powered utopia.
At least a few can charge my iPhone so I can chill out on classical music or sci-fi re-runs until they eat my brain and I join the horde. Got any zombies?
You can find out more about Marc and Allscripts below: