Recently a friend asked me if doctors should learn law, what should they learn and what will help them the most. What are the courses that can help a person interested in healthcare management and legal issues?
The first thought that comes to mind is that doctors should learn about medico-legal issues.
There are several things:
- How should doctors handle medico-legal cases – that they need to report to police or appear as witness in court of law
- Medical negligence related laws and how they can protect themselves
- Laws that regulate or ban various medical procedures – like the ban on sex detection of a foetus, surrogacy, legality of performing euthanasia/withdrawing life support or abortions
In reality, most doctors have enough practical knowledge about these things, or can read a few blogs if they need to know more. I do not see it to be very beneficial practically to do a course on these things. Maybe a very short week long course at best will be sufficient.
However, from my experience, I can say that doctors benefit disproportionately if they learn business laws. Healthcare is a massive business, with a lot of new technology, business model improvements and efficiencies being introduced in it at a breakneck pace, especially in India. Disruptive healthcare startups as well as traditional healthcare businesses have been raising a lot of investment of late, and the growth of the industry is very promising. Doctors are often the captains of the healthcare industry and rightly so.
Here is what entrepreneurial doctors as well as those with a keen interest in management can benefit from learning:
- How to structure a healthcare business – that reduces tax liabilities, legal risks and can expand through India or even globally
- How to raise capital for healthcare businesses – which includes venture capital or private equity investment, as well as term loans from banks and financial institutions
- How to develop high quality corporate governance in a healthcare company, and avoid corporate disputes and takeover by investors
- How to protect intellectual property, and manage IP portfolio, monetize intellectual property through licensing, assignment etc.
- How to negotiate important contracts
- How to land major government contracts, how do public procurement, tenders work
- Import-export, customs duty, basics of taxation relevant to the healthcare industry
There are many other things that are becoming highly relevant as well, such as data protection laws, cyber laws (as healthcare goes online), employment and labour laws, sexual harassment laws – basically, what is important to any entrepreneur is also important for a healthcare entrepreneur, and what is important to a business manager is also important to a healthcare business manager.
Interestingly, I created a course 5 years back that many doctors regularly sign up for. It is called the Diploma in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Laws. Most of the modules are highly relevant for doctors who are interested in starting a healthcare business, or becoming a senior level decision maker (such as director or member of executive board) will find these modules priceless. We had many medical practitioners, founders of healthcare companies and senior managers from leading healthcare companies who have pursued the course.
Here is a success story from a doctor who pursued the business law course and benefited from it.