A surgeon-turned-entrepreneur has urged doctors to follow their dreams of running their own business while working in the NHS.
Dr Suman Saha is a co-founder of Doctify, an award-winning healthcare website that allows users to search for medics, book appointments and review experiences.
He is among a wave of “doctorpreneurs” who combine their work in the NHS with running a company. The orthoepedic surgeon juggles his day job with building Doctify, which was presented with an award by Prince Andrew in March.
Dr Saha, from London, said it is “crazy” that patients cannot access health information easily online.
And he believes junior doctors, who staged a series of strikes in recent months over working hours, can be at the heart of upgrading the NHS with technology.
He told Eastern Eye: “Doctors have inherent management skills and a personal touch, and are also analytical.
“If you have drive, you can apply it to any industry. The health sector is so behind and rooted in tradition, and is the last to embrace innovation.
“You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your medical career. People use technology a lot on their phones, (but) you can’t access health services online easily.
“It is scattergun, not verified. If you can find info on your taxi driver, it’s crazy you can’t do the same about healthcare. It’s unacceptable in this day and age.”
The company was launched in 2014 by Dr Saha and his colleague Dr Stephanie Eltz. Its database lists the prices that private doctors charge and which are covered by health insurance.
The website and mobile phone app covers services across the country. The co-founders manage a team of over 20 staff.
Dr Saha, who was inspired to study medicine after watching US TV show ER, admitted it has been a challenging time setting up the online hub.
He said: “It’s been pretty tough. The only way to make it work is sacrifice. We always have a doctor in our company full-time; it involves working weekends and evenings with no personal life.
“It’s exciting; there’s lots of energy from the others you feed off. I don’t see it as work, it’s a great team of people who have become friends.”
The NHS has been rocked recently by plunging staff morale over budget cuts and the row between the British Medical Association union and the government over a contract for working on weekends.
Dr Saha said he is in talks with health bosses to expand the app to include NHS specialists. “We would like to use the technology we’ve created for the NHS. We’ve had conversations. it does take time as there’s more barriers.
“Morale is low with the strikes, people are frustrated. I would love to see the NHS embrace companies like ours.
“We are not doing it to make money but for positive change,” he explained.