Samir Malik (WG’13) hits the healthcare nail on its head with 1DocWay
18% of U.S. GDP goes to healthcare every year, and a whopping 1/3 of this spending goes to waste, primarily on excessive and unnecessary overheads. There is no industry with a more glaring need for innovation than U.S. healthcare, and Samir Malik (WG’13) has a plan for action. Samir’s startup, 1DocWay, is an online doctor’s office that allows patients to find, book, and even hold videochat appointments with doctors in a single online platform. This week, we spoke with Samir to learn more about the budding startup.
Wharton Journal: We’ve seen a few exciting innovations take place in online healthcare, with startups like ZocDoc and ResearchGate having taken the lead. Where do you see online healthcare going and what excites you most about this future?
Samir Malik: The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity. And at 1/5th of our entire economy, healthcare represents perhaps the most exciting opportunity of our generation. We are still in the early days of an era where technology will be used to make healthcare smarter, more efficient, and modernized. Add on top of the magnitude of the problem the notion that by fixing healthcare we can be part of helping people live happier, longer lives, and the question becomes, “what isn’t exciting about healthcare technology?”
WJ: What’s your background? Why healthcare?
SM: I spent two years at McKinsey, doing a lot of work for payers and providers. In 2009 I had the privilege of reading the healthcare reform bill. All 2,000 pages of it. Take a deep look inside what is written, and you see incredible opportunities to be part of a transformational shift in how healthcare works. On top of markets undergoing disruption, there is a lot of innovation grant money that the government has set aside to encourage entrepreneurs to solve healthcare’s most pressing problems. I also spent some time as a hospital executive and ran a healthcare services startup.
WJ: How do you differentiate 1DocWay from other online doctor services?
SM: We focus on delivering psychiatric services to patients in underserved (typically rural) settings. Healthcare is big, and we’ve ound a nice small corner to start from.
WJ: What was the rationale behind choosing tele-psychiatry as a niche to tackle?
SM: Healthcare is still a business. And a business needs revenue to function. Tele-psychiatry is one of the most well-reimbursed areas of telemedicine, when we look at payors like Medicare and Medicaid. We are starting where the dollars are.
WJ: Early innovators like ZocDoc have built a business model around charging doctors a monthly listing fee. What are your thoughts on this model, and are you considering the same for 1DocWay?
SM: ZocDoc is a fantastic model; not only for the market clearing house function they serve, but also for the gateway they’ve created for themselves to deliver a full suite of physician practice management services. You may have recently heard that ZocDoc launched a patient signup sheet. This is the brilliance of ZocDoc. They now are in bed with 150,000 doctors’ offices and can deliver modern services to businesses that are still running like its 1994.
WJ: How has 1DocWay benefitted from being part of the Venture Initiation Program?
SM: VIP has been fantastic. When you’re juggling school and starting a company, having an office to work in that’s a block away from Huntsman is clutch. Having a community of entrepreneurs with whom we can share ideas and problem-solve helps everyone create a better business. And being one warm introduction away from the most entrepreneurial of Wharton alums helps our companies get traction. Of 1DocWay’s pipeline of 14 hospital leads, 10 of them have come through VIP or Wharton.
WJ: Any last words of wisdom for other Wharton MBAs who may be considering joining VIP and/or launching a startup while on campus?
SM: Just do it. Take an idea, don’t overthink it. Fail fast, and try again. B-School is about as risk-neutralized a place as you can ask for to take a risk and start a company.