👨🏻⚕️ Doctorpreneurs: Dr Richard McMahon 📞
This week's Doctorpreneur of doctology is Dr Richard McMahon.
Founder and CEO of SwiftDoc, Richard is an experienced GP with interests in all aspects of general medicine, dermatology, surgery and psychiatry as well as being a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of GPs.
What organisation / startup did you found?
What is SwiftDoc's noble purpose? SwiftDoc's noble purpose is to provide convenient, high quality, affordable and safe healthcare using telehealth, to everyone in Australia and beyond.
Tell us about the first 10 years of your life?
My childhood in England was idyllic. I remember feeling blessed to have a wonderful view of the green fields and forests of England from my bedroom window.
I am the youngest of four brothers and life up to the age of 10 was not focused on school! We would play football together and pick apples and plums from the trees in the garden to eat. We would spend the long summer holidays walking in the woods, climbing trees, playing hide and seek, playing sports.
I have a twin brother that was in all the same classes as me throughout school. Being a twin enabled me to play all sorts of pranks on people, especially teachers. At the school parent's evening, my twin brother and I were called the naughtiest boys in the school when we were eight years old which I disagreed with.
Being a twin brought out a competitive streak in me which has served me well throughout life.
What age were you when you had your first paying job? What was it? I used to wash cars in our neighbourhood when was about 10 but I got my first official paying job when I was 16. I worked for an IT company called Digital.
I was responsible for deconstructing a communications computer (about the size of a fridge freezer and worth £300,000). This computer was being sold and for some reason they wanted it to be cleaned inside and out, including removing static and dust from all the circuit boards which had to be removed.
The process took about four weeks. After reassembling it all, they fired it up and fortunately it still worked! I was paid a £50 pound bonus. Quite why they entrusted this responsibility to a 16 year-old school boy I will never understand.
What made you want to be a Doctor and what specialty did you choose? Why? As a young child, I was always intrigued by the way the human body functioned and always wanted to have a deeper understanding. Seeing endoscopic images of the alimentary tract on programs such as Tomorrow's World fascinated me.
When I was seven = years old, I cut my hand on a tin and had to have anaesthesia and sutures at the local A&E (Accident & Emergency Department). I thought it was awesome!
A few years later I had to have a general anaesthetic for a broken bone. I decided then that I wanted to be a doctor. I had an insatiable curiosity to learn more. and found it absolutely fascinating and wanted to have those skills and help people. I was born at that same hospital and 24 years later became a junior doctor at the same hospital!
I studied hard and passed my exams to become a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and then later switched to general practice, gaining the Membership of the Royal College of GPs and then moved to Australia, getting FRACGP on the way. It was the best decision I have ever made.
The entrepreneurial and competitive streak in me never went away either and my interest in computing and programming has brought me to the field of healthcare technology aka healthtech.
What made you want to be an Entrepreneur or follow an alternative route? When exactly did you decide?
The competitive side of me has always been there since childhood. I was always taught to be wise with money and had a good work ethic instilled into me by my parents. I was taught the value of money at a young age. Pocket money was given to me for work I did. From there it is a short step to start thinking of ways to earn more. So I'd say the entrepreneurial spirit was instilled in me from childhood.
Using your ingenuity and hard work to improve your prospects in life is a respectable and noble thing. I have always thought that if you want to invest in something, you should invest in yourself. You will always do a better job of looking after your money than someone else. That is how entrepreneurs think and I am definitely one of them.
I only decided to follow an alternative route into the digital health space in the last 10 years because I have only just had the time to do so. I have always been interested in computing and did some programming when I was at school. My first program solved and drew a graph of any quadratic equation. I guess I was a real geek!
Move forward 20 years and I am a doctor in a field with endless possibilities. Only in the last 10 years have I been able to develop my combined interests in medicine, business and technology. We are at a new frontier of medicine. The advent of the internet of things, distributed ledger technology and data management will have massive implications for healthcare and it is the perfect time to be involved especially as an entrepreneur.
Are you still practicing as a Doctor now? If yes, do you intend to stop if the organisation or project takes off?
Yes I still practice as a GP with a special interest in skin cancer surgery. I will continue to work as a doctor and work as a doctor for my own telehealth company now. Eventually I will need to stop when the company goes through its first IPO!
Why do you think traditionally many Doctors struggle with entrepreneurship? Or at least they are perceived to?
Many doctors feel uncomfortable being paid to help someone when they would probably still help without being paid. It is a natural way to think. However, economics does not work in that way.
Compassion, care and empathy are in some ways at odds with the financial necessities of providing healthcare.
What is your favourite quote?
"Nothing in the world can take place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent".
What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?
I would provide the zombies with a unique encrypted video calling system as part of a social media project so that fellow zombies around the world could post pictures of their zombie friends, chat and boast about inane zombie stuff and post pictures of their food. Wait a sec....
You can find out more about SwiftDoc here: