Their goal is to develop a new product or service to resolve a clinical need and improve healthcare around the world. Can we consider them entrepreneurs? At the very least, they are eager make a difference. Francisca Marzullo (engineer), Eduard Soler (pharmacist), Vannesa Gurie (physiotherapist) and Bas Kuilboer (business administrator) are fellows in the d·HEALTH Barcelona program, a Biocat initiative to accelerate entrepreneurship in healthcare. Their experience started with an immersion in ophthalmology at Hospital Clinic to identify unmet clinical needs, to then design an innovative solution and fund a start-up. Here they share with us some of their insights.
Francisca Marzullo: At the beginning, we didn’t know how they would accept us. You think there is a perception of hierarchy but it doesn’t actually exist. I have learned that knowledge knows no barriers. We are not experts in ophthalmology but we could go in and bring different points of view. The doctors appreciated our comments.
Eduard Soler: The level of professionalism is completely different but we faced that and tried to be on the same level. It is possible. I talked one-on-one with doctors. In just a short time, we have learned a lot about ophthalmology. If you go about it in the right way, it’s easy to learn a lot in a short time.
Vanessa Gurie: The doctors worked with us not because we are students but because we are part of an improvement in their clinical specialty. We have had good discussions because sometimes doctors act with inertia. If we ask why, they also question themselves. That is why they see the value of what we can bring, so they want to be able to give us all the support we need. Furthermore, we have organized workshops with them and they could send us feedback about their impressions. That allowed us to know what is and is not a need.
Bas Kuilboer: I think we came in with an open mind. We had the chance to observe in operating rooms and external consultation rooms and to ask as many questions as we wanted. They gave us the chance to question everything and, with what we have learned, now we can assess how to improve certain things. That, for me, is the beginning of the entrepreneurial spirit, which we should use for the rest of the program and our lives.
Vanessa Gurie: We learned that we can be disruptive and we do not really have to accept the current state of things.
Bas Kuilboer: It is very important for people to stay curious; there is always room for innovation. If you want to be an entrepreneur, that’s great. But even big companies need people with entrepreneurial minds.
Bas Kuilboer: The entrepreneurial spirit is coming. Some of the needs have a big market opportunity and we are excited.
Eduard Soler: We are an international team and that is key. We are from the Netherlands, South Africa, Chile and Catalonia, where the healthcare systems are completely different. That is why we are not only focusing on the Catalan or Spanish market but looking abroad as well. In our team, the hospital is not that important: we are looking at ophthalmology in the world. Actually, our coach gave us good feedback about this approach and for me, being Catalan, it is very interesting.
Vanessa Gurie: We have extrapolated this experience internationally and we are having a look at how ophthalmology impacts different worlds, particularly differences between developed and developing countries. We have a global mindset and are thinking outside the box to have an impact on healthcare.
Francisca Marzullo: Absolutely. We share everything and we pool all the skills that we brought individually to the team to have an impact in ophthalmology. Even if you are doing things separately, it is useful to have your teammates around to validate it. It’s good to share: the more information we have, the better it will be.
Vanessa Gurie: We got comfortable very quickly because we had to. Before the clinical immersion, we had some teambuilding classes with KaosPilot on creative leadership and group skills and they helped remind us of the human side of why we are here.
Eduard Soler: The tools we got from KaosPilot are necessary and now that we are having the experience, everything has taken on greater meaning.