As with any for-profit sector, entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of health care services, although they keep a particularly low profile in this industry – for obvious reasons.
But there are plenty of people with a clear vision and the drive to carry it through. One of them, the amazing Joseph Priel, sadly died three weeks ago in a car crash (see obituary). He shared a lot of characteristics with other great entrepreneurs in the sector – people like Jean Claude Marian, who retired this year from Orpea, which he built from two homes to an empire stretching across Europe to China and Brazil and Bernd Broermann who has managed to retain ownership of Asklepios, the German hospital giant he also created from the ground up.
What are those characteristics? Typically, these guys are direct, driven and determined. They see an opportunity and they just bloody go for it. Their people skills often appear lacking. Tact, diplomacy and charm are not major weapons in their armoury. Corporate man and woman, they are not. But the people who work for them will tell you that they know where they are with them – they certainly deliver feedback!
Other big names would include Devi Shetty, the man who built Narayana, the Indian cardio chain and in the process massively cut the cost of heart surgery.
Here at HBI, we see many such figures – people cutting the cost of dialysis in Mexico or India, delivering counselling online at a fraction of the costs of normal therapy or coming up with pay as you-go-models for imaging.
We’d argue that no sector needs entrepreneurs as much as this one. We want better, lower cost, innovative health care. Entrusting that to “The Blob” of policymakers, consultants and the vested interests of the medical profession, medtech and pharma is why we are where we are today. So here’s to Priel and the men and women like him. We need more of them.We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Max Hotopf or call 0207 183 3779.