Med School Grads Ditching Residency For Lucrative Digital Health Startups

Recent medical student graduates in the San Francisco Bay Area graduates are foregoing the residency route and instead pursuing entrepreneurship opportunities in the field of digital health. So called “digital health” is defined as the integration of wireless devices, hardware sensors, social networking, personal genetic information, etc. into the health industry. One firm that encourages this development is Rock Health, a venture capital group aimed towards bringing more technological integration to the healthcare industry.

Rock Health has worked with startups that have developed wearable devices and mobile apps to give patients more involvement in their health. One success story comes from Omada Health, which offers online coaching in dealing with preventable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. As part of their service, they mail customers a wireless scale and a pedometer to keep track of patients’ progress.

By 2012, hospitals began rapidly moving away from paper-based records and into electronic storage. With doctors currently only spending eight minutes on average for each individual patient (partially due to record-keeping needs), digital health firms allow more opportunity for physicians to keep up with patients’ progress. They could also open up access to patients who may not otherwise have been able to see a physician.

Stanford and UCSF have some of the lowest residency route stats in the country. In particular, Stanford ranked 117 out of 123 schools. UCSF is number 98. Those foregoing residency are drawn to startup opportunities like those at Rock Health. These companies have demonstrated great willingness to hire grads with no experience, in part due to their insider knowledge of the industry. Having not worked in residency, these grads would also be less complacent to practices that may need improvement.

Part of the shift of medical grads towards digital health startups may be explained by the lack of career opportunities and earning potential, along with rising discontent among the ranks of primary care physicians. UCSF MD graduate Rebecca Coelius said, “I loved working with patients but I looked around me and realized that I didn’t want the jobs of anybody who had ‘succeeded’ as a clinician.” Perhaps this revolution from the digital health industry will cast out the stereotype of the overworked and cynical doctor.

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