How To Go from Being a Practicing Physician to a Medical Advisor in HealthTech

Dr Claudia Pastides
Dec 2, 2021 · 7 min read

Ever since I transitioned from working as a GP to a full-time job in HealthTech, I often get asked if I miss seeing patients. While I absolutely do, my job at Flo has opened the door for me to become the medical professional I’ve always wanted to be (but didn’t know it). If you are a doctor and entertaining the idea of getting into HealthTech, here is my story and a guide to how to make that shift.

The role of a medical advisor in HealthTech

There are a variety of roles for a doctor in HealthTech. For instance, in my case, the role of a medical advisor is to make sure that all the content we publish, whether it’s an article, video, or social media post, is medically credible, trustworthy, and as safe as possible for our users. A medical advisor steps in whenever there needs to be another doctor’s eye to look over something and takes part in the content development process from start to finish.

Medical advisors are a crucial part of HealthTech companies. Doctors can put themselves in the shoes of users who consume the content and anticipate different situations or where something might be misinterpreted. Nowadays, there is so much health information readily available online and through mobile apps, but without qualified medical experts working together with these companies to ensure the accuracy and credibility of the content, it could end up being harmful for people.

Working in tech, you have the potential to make an impact on a large scale. One of my favorite parts of being a physician was promoting public health by educating my patients and practicing preventive medicine. At Flo, when you work on an article about disease prevention, that piece of content has the potential to reach 200 million users around the globe! So it’s still fulfilling because you’re making a difference and helping people, just in a different way.

How to make the switch from clinical practice to tech: The guide and formula

What is unique for HealthTech is that here you can actually put your other passions and interests into practice, even those not so obviously related to medicine. HealthTech can provide the opportunity to combine those hobbies with your main medical specialization.

But where should you start as a doctor if you want to become a part of a HealthTech tribe? While there’s no obvious career pathway to get you there, I’ve summarized the things I’ve learnt and done along the way in a multi-step guide:

  1. Specify the area of your medical expertise

Your medical specialization is your core skill and the greatest value for HealthTech — make it stand out in your CV.

2. Add a unique ingredient — define your passions

There might be something you are doing as your hobby or some unique skill that you never thought could be of use in your medical practice. Maybe you’re curious about marketing or good at storytelling. Or maybe you love analyzing data. Whatever it is, be sure you highlight it — this extra ingredient could be exactly what a HealthTech company is looking for in a medical advisor role.

In my case, before transitioning full-time into tech, I was blogging and creating social media content and putting together and marketing medical courses and conferences in addition to my clinical work. I’ve always been passionate about writing and marketing, and that was something that was missing for me in my work as a doctor.

3. Explore the opportunities

Now it’s time to check what’s out there on the market. You might need to be aware of the latest technological progress and trends. I would advise using different health apps as a user (a “patient,” if you will), reading more articles online, etc., and, of course, simply checking the “careers” pages of different HealthTech companies and exploring the descriptions of relevant roles. You might be surprised how unique those roles are. By doing this, you’ll be able to understand where you match, or what additional skills you might need to develop to match these roles.

4. Learn additional skills

Once you’ve explored the market, you might find you need to level up or add some new skills to your professional background — for example, go to some marketing workshops or take some online courses. If you wanted, you could also familiarize yourself with tech platforms and tools that are commonly used, such as Google Docs, Slack, Jira, Miro, Zoom … the list is probably endless! We use a wide variety of tech platforms compared to what’s used in clinical medicine, and although you might not have access to these, you can have a look on YouTube and get a feel for them.

5. Polish your profile

The digital age requires digital solutions. Make your profile visible on professional web platforms like LinkedIn, and make sure your social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., give off the right impression.

6. Network and reach out

In addition to simply applying for available roles, there are plenty of HealthTech meetups, events, and hubs to attend that could open a lot of doors for your career in tech. If there are none in your area (often the case due to the pandemic), check out online options. These events are a great tool to meet new people and develop a strong professional network.

I especially enjoy networking on LinkedIn and following people like Dr. James Somauroo, who has a great HealthTech podcast and regularly posts updates about the industry. Often, by following people working in HealthTech, you’ll discover more and more people to follow. I encourage exploring different HealthTech podcasts such as healthpodcastnetwork.com. There are more of us out there than it seems!

This guide could also be simplified in a formula:

Your medical specialization + Your unique passions and skills (hobbies) + Market needs = Your new role in HealthTech

So the formula can look like this: define particular passions and skills you have, some of which you might not be able to express in your GP position, and look for a role in tech that matches it.

Because there are a variety of unique roles for a doctor in tech, this combo of passions and skills can be exactly what both you and the tech market are looking for. So in my case, it was my medical knowledge as a GP plus my passion and skill for writing and marketing as a unique ingredient that was exactly what Flo was looking for in a medical advisor.

However, the role description for a medical advisor is not limited to just this one example. You might be a better match for the role of a senior medical advisor: For this, you might need to be a good presenter and a strategic thinker. Or you might match the role of a medical advisor who works on chatbots, so in that case, you’d need to understand how data analytics work. The options are limitless and constantly evolving.

And because those roles are evolving together with technologies, let’s now go over what other qualities you might need to work in HealthTech.

What else a medical advisor needs when working in tech

Working quickly and being flexible

Doctors have to work quickly because time with each patient is limited, but you follow guidelines, and processes take a long time to change. In tech, things are in constant motion, and you need to move fast to keep up and continue progressing. At Flo, you have to learn to fit into sprints, stick to tight deadlines, and adapt to changing circumstances.

Creative thinking

In HealthTech, you have to get used to thinking outside the box. Not just to come up with a constant string of fresh content ideas, but also to figure out how to make that content relevant to as many users as possible. Outside of my content role, I frequently take part in brainstorming sessions for exciting new app features and ways to improve the user experience. Doctors need to stick to procedures and standards, and there’s not always a lot of room for creative thinking.

Being a team player

When I was a GP, I worked mainly alone in my exam room with my patients, reaching out to other specialists and team members when needed. In HealthTech, you’re part of a big team that consistently needs to work together. There is very little that you can do in isolation. It is all a team effort. You also have to adapt to a different structure and style of teamwork, and learning to regularly receive and give feedback is a big part of that.

Using different software

Working in the content side of HealthTech, you’ll likely need to become familiar with many different software programs to manage daily tasks. It’s a very different workflow from the one in general practice, where you have just one computer system, and that’s it.

Remote working

While for many of us, remote working became a normal part of life during the pandemic, health care is mostly still face to face. You need to learn how to work from home and manage your time well while doing so.

Advice for doctors thinking about working in HealthTech

Nowadays, thanks to HealthTech, there are so many opportunities available for doctors that weren’t there before, and the industry continues to grow daily. Moreover, your own interests and skills may be just the thing that a HealthTech company needs. There’s this thinking that doctors should follow one straight path of education, training, and then seeing patients until you retire. And if you don’t do that, you’ve either failed or aren’t good enough.

My advice for physicians thinking about transitioning into tech is to remember that your medical education is valuable. Your skills and knowledge are incredibly useful outside of one-to-one patient consultations, and you can make a positive impact on many people’s lives by working in HealthTech.

If this has inspired you to check out HealthTech— you can discover what opportunities are available at https://flo.health/careers

Flo Health

Flo Health Blog

Flo Health

Flo is a secure and trusted global health product with 43M MAU and 210M installs that supports women through their entire reproductive life cycle. The app combines cutting-edge technology, scientific knowledge and the power of community.

Dr Claudia Pastides

Written by

Medical Advisor at Flo (MRCGP MBBS iBSc)

Flo Health

Flo is a secure and trusted global health product with 43M MAU and 210M installs that supports women through their entire reproductive life cycle. The app combines cutting-edge technology, scientific knowledge and the power of community.