My life at Ada Health: Vishaal Virani
Consider yourself as a budding entrepreneur? Want to use your medical expertise to do something different?
Look no further than Vishaal Virani. He’s someone who’s taken a less-than-conventional route through medicine and is now seeking to help revolutionise the way we approach healthcare by helping the team at Ada Health, a company pioneering the use of AI as a valuable tool that patients can use at home.
You’re currently working for Ada Health now I understand? How did you get involved with them and could you share your journey with me thus far?
I’ve known Claire, the co-founder for several years through Doctorpreneurs. So that is how I got involved.
The journey has been fantastic – it is very exciting to be part of a health tech startup journey right now as there is a lot of (justifiable) buzz around how digital health, and innovation in general can improve healthcare globally. Ada Health is at the forefront of this discussion, so I am very much enjoying my role.
How will Ada be incorporated within our current healthcare system?
We are working hard to integrate ourselves into the NHS – there is no doubt that in a financially-stretched and increasingly over-burdened healthcare system like the NHS we need to shift from reactive care to preventative care, and from doctor-driven care to patient-driven care. Ada can address both these areas by empowering patients to proactively look after and maintain their own health. We do this by providing an easy to use platform for individuals to check up on their symptoms at an early stage, through our Ada app, and then also provide high quality advice on how best to treat any condition they have.
What motivated you to make a switch from medicine to management consulting? Was it something you were interested in for a while?
It was something I only looked into when I realised during my FY2 year that I did not really enjoy the life of a GP too much. Coincidentally around the same time, I developed an interest in reading The Economist and Bloomberg Businessweek. These publications opened my eyes to the business world, and that then led me to learn more about management consulting. As consulting is a great entry point into the world for business.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far, and how did you overcome it?
There are always challenges. One example was getting my head around the 80/20 principle in consulting and business, whereby you only have to be 80% right for your argument to accept. Whereas in medicine we strive to be 100% right to minimise harm to a patient. Another example was getting to grips with the importance of networking – jobs, promotions and interesting projects do not simply come to you because you have the right degree outside medicine, you have to “work the crowd” so to speak, and really network regularly. This was initially a challenge but now I love it.
How did you find your time as a doctor?
I enjoyed it but did not love it. It can be quite repetitive, and there is not much scope for creative thinking which I have found I enjoy. However, very few jobs give you the same sense of creating a positive impact in such a tangible way on a day to day basis.
I just wanted to talk a little about Doctorpreneurs for a while now – how did you found it?
I am actually going to cheat here, and refer you to the Doctorpreneurs About Us page, where you can see the full story much better than I can articulate it – http://www.doctorpreneurs.com/about/.
Doctorpreneurs seems to get bigger and bigger – where do you see it in 5 years time?
Still having exactly the same mission and objectives, but hopefully having scaled beyond the UK, with a significant increase in the number of users, and some billion pound/dollar exits from the early startups that we have supported (but not invested in sadly).
It would be fair to say you’re quite entrepreneurially-minded, how do you encourage others with an idea to realise it? Are they better off leaving the NHS or staying within it?
Initially definitely stay, as there is no better place to test your ideas than your current clinical environment and no better source of feedback than your current patients/colleagues. Also, if you are part of the system it is much easier to push through innovations than as an outsider. Then if your idea scales or you no longer have a passion for medicine you can consider leaving but truthfully, I know so many clinicians that are running very successful startups whilst continuing to practice medicine part-time. See the interviews on our Doctorpreneurs for examples of some of these individuals.
The biggest piece of advice I have is to ideate or innovate, and then don’t be afraid to start testing your idea and truly believing it can work and scale. If you do not believe in it no one else will!
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