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How to create medical technology CMOs and advisors

Most sick care technology companies, at some stage of their development, decide whether to hire a Chief Medical Officer (CMO), either part time or full time. However, given that the job description involves a combination of clinical and business domain expertise, there is a shortage of qualified applicants and a war for talent, much like there is for sick care data scientists.

The roles and responsibilities of hospital CMOs are different from biomedical and clinical company CMOs. Here the job description for a sickcare technology CMO.

CMIO’s are different as well: https://amdis.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/AMDIS-CMIO-Survey_Ross.pdf

Here is how the role of the payer CMO is evolving.

However, the job descriptions of both are undergoing rapid change,

Add to that the call for consumer facing companies to appoint chief medical officers.

Since there is no technology CMO school (Sorry, doc, but that MBA won’t get you there), most get OJT with the attendant inefficiencies, role conflicts, waste and dysfunctions. How, then, should we rethink physician entrepreneurship education and training for those interested in a technology CMO career pathway?

  1. Start with a needs assessment. Clinical and domain expertise is the price of entry. Beyond that, we need to talk to industry, investors and the various innovation ecosystems to define the needed skills, knowledge, abilities and competencies the market wants.
  2. Use the needs assessment to create learning objectives. Those will most likely involve understanding how to translate data into value, dissemination and implementation science, project management, strategic thinking, leaderpreneurship, product management, emarketing, clinical trial design and execution, and and using social media to create stakeholder engagement.
  3. Use the learning objectives to design the curriculum that would include not just education and training, but mentors, networks, experiential learning and international knowledge exchange as well.
  4. Create rubrics to measure competency metrics.
  5. Require each participant to create a personal and professional career development plan
  6. Begin introducing medical students, residents and fellows to aspects of the curriculum early in their training
  7. Create a network of technology CMOs to encourage sharing best practices and life long learning
  8. Develop scholarships, fellowships and other funding models in cooperation with medtech/biopharma/digital health/care delivery companies
  9. Introduce potential CMOs to internship opportunities. The good news is that you won’t have to wear white pants and a short white coat. However, on some nights, you might have to sleep in house at the co-working space.
  10. Medical specialty societies and associations should offer continuing education for technology CMOs
  11. Most universities are not entrepreneurial, nimble or responsive enough to offer this kind of thing. It should be done at the bottom-up community level and most of the faculty should be practicing CMOs
  12. The process should be a hybrid model, with a combination of face to face and online experiences.

Filling the CMO manpower gap will take years given the length of the pipeline and the limited supply of doctors with an entrepreneurial mindset. That said, things are changing as more and more medical students choose to forgo practicing clinical medicine for something else.

Once you have the knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies to do the job that needs to be done, then you have to find one. That will take mentors, networks, career coaching and peer to peer support. Here are some tips:

  1. When you go to meeting and conferences, don’t ignore the vendors or just take their free T-shirts. Do informational interviews to learn more about what they do, whether and how they involved medical consultants and who to contact for more information.
  2. Talk to opinion leaders or those who are already in CMO or advisory positions
  3. Relentlessly network, particularly building robust networks outside of your field of interest.
  4. Build your personal brand directly and on social media
  5. Refine your soft skills-communication, collaboration, creativity and complex problem solving
  6. Join side gig dating services, like the AMA Physician Innovation Network (you don’t need to be a member), the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs or other jobs boards
  7. Find a place in your local biocluster
  8. Create a personal and professional career development plan
  9. Live in the right place , since tech hubs and jobs are concentrating in fewer and fewer places
  10. Think big but start small
  11. Think twice about not doing a residency. It’s called “physician entrepreneur” for a reason.
  12. No, you don’t need to “grab an MBA“. Instead, we need MBEs.
  13. Determine whether the company needs you to be a CMO or something else, like an advisor
  14. If part of your compensation is equity, find out whether you are working for a C corp or an LLC and determine the right kind of equity award.
  15. Determine your revenue model and price.

Be sure you understand the differences between an advisor, a consultant, a chief ____ officer, a member of an advisory board, a member of the leadership team or the board of directors.

You should also understand the differences between various corporate entities and what that means for you if you are hired.

Once you land a job, then the first 90 days are critical to setting the stage for a successful career trajectory. As noted in a recent HBR blog, the biggest challenge leaders face during these periods is staying focused on the right things. You are drinking from the proverbial fire hose while trying to get settled and figure out how to start to have an impact. It’s easy to take on too much or to waste your precious time. So, it helps to have a set of questions to guide you. Here are the five most important ones to ask…and keep on asking on a regular basis.

The sooner, we start, though, the better , at least theoretically, the company success outcomes and that’s good for patients.

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