I his 1984 article, Peter Drucker outlined the structural transformation from an industrial economy to an entrepreneurial economy and articulated the drivers:
1. The rapid evolution of knowledge and technology
2. Demographic trends
3. An effective system for supplying venture capital
4. American industry began to learn how to manage entrepreneurship.
More than thirty years later, we are debating the state of the entrepreneurial economy, how new technologies, particularly cloud,mobile technologies and social media are driving it, whether entrepreneurial ventures create new jobs and how and who should measure it. Kauffman suggests we measure density, fluidity, connectivity and diversity. While these hard metrics shed light and insight into the health of any given entrepreneurial ecosystem, there are some "soft signs" that are harder to come by when measuring the physician entrepreneurial economy:
1. How much value is being delivered to patients, the ultimate end user, through the efforts of physician entrepreneurs and which resources contributed the most to helping doctors get their ideas to patients?
2. Who should measure it and how?
3. How do we measure not just patient defined value, but wealth generation to physician entrepreneurs, investors and shareholders, the local and regional economy and the contribution to US global competitiveness?
4. How do you measure the effectiveness, efficiency and flow of knowledge exchange in a given cluster?
5. How is the cluster or ecosystem meeting the manpower needs of the community it serves?
6. How much integration is there between public, private and academic entities and what have been the value added results of their efforts?
7. How "user friendly" is the environment, particularly when it comes to helping or mentoring those who unfamiliar with the business of science and medicine?
8. How are regional university technology transfer offices participating and are they seen as the problem or part of the solution to removing the barriers to life science technology commercialization?
9. What is the regional business, tax and regulatory environment and is it attracting talent, technology and money?
10. Is the ecosystem creating enough churn to be sustainable? What happens when the anchor tenants leave?
Digital health and biomedical clusters have grown in most major metropolitan US areas. Unfortunately, there is no consistent way to measure them and compare one to the other. We need a way to keep score not just for the physician entrepreneurial ecosystem, but for others as well to drive growth and make wise resource allocation decisions. Hype and promoting our gut feelings won't get us there.
Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org