Healthcare Entrepreneurship With Dr. Ernesto Gutierrez

Today Dr. Ernesto share with us his business strategies that helped hundreds of medical professionals enjoy greater practice growth.

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Ernesto:

You’re indoctrinating your patients, you’re literally whispering in their ear about your products and your processes. And these are people who are already interested in them. The moment that they set foot in your office and you have never met them, they already know you, because you’ve been talking to them.

Sliman:

Welcome to the Care Frontiers podcast The show where we interview thought leaders in healthcare to share with us their expert knowledge and business branding and marketing. If you’re a practitioner, medical business owner or an executive, this is the place to be. I’m your host Sliman Baghouri, and in today’s episode, we’ll talk about how you can treat your practice as a more of a business owner and less of an employed physician. Today’s guest will share with us his strategies for thriving medical business. Make sure to join in all the way through for more details.

Sliman:

Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, to the Care Frontiers podcast where we bring healthcare professionals to share with us their own experience running a successful medical business. I have today with me the founder of practice growth formula on the podcast in a box company Dr. Ernesto Gutierrez. Welcome to the show Doc.

Ernesto:

Hi Sliman. Thank you for having me.

Sliman:

So Doc, before we get into any of the content, tell me a bit about what you’re doing right now on how your two companies are helping healthcare professionals.

Ernesto:

Yes, of course. So I’m a former practicing physician myself, but a couple of years to doing that, despite really enjoying it and liking it and figuring out a way to make it financially successful. My wife and I, we wanted to have more time freedom and more travel freedom, and we didn’t like being stuck in the one place, so we figured out a way to design a business that would allow us to do just that. And once we did that, and we figured out that there are other ways to leverage your medical degree. And one of them is actually helping other doctors run their businesses more efficiently, more effectively, more profitably, with less stress and less overwhelm and to live the lifestyle that they want. That’s what we’ve been focusing our time, man, right now, as you and I were talking before we began been living in Spain, we’ve been here for a little over 18 months, actually closer to two years by now. And, and it’s great and I still, I still run a multinational business, we’ve got clients in the US, we’ve got clients in the UK, we’ve got clients, still in Mexico, we’ve got we just signed up a client here in Spain. And so it’s, it’s it’s very freeing, it’s really being able to help other doctors, leverage their degrees serve their patients in a way that they’re satisfied with, we’re fighting burnout, and they’re making good money. So it’s, it’s a good trade off.

Sliman:

I like it. I like their remote angle you’ve taking. Especially in this COVID era. So Dr. Ernesto, I know that one of your mission is to make entrepreneurship more accessible to healthcare professionals. How has it all led you to embarking on this journey? What was your tipping point?

Ernesto:

Well, one of the things that bothered me the most was noticing that a lot of doctors, a lot of people that I went to medical school with, they were turning to agreeing, really, because that’s what we were doing. We were just agreeing to become cogs in this industry in the healthcare industry. And we thought that that’s the right thing to do. Because that way we can just focus on on serving our patients and somebody else can run the business but but in reality, this is this is really in my It is my deep belief that this is the reason why healthcare is so broken, because as doctors, we’ve relinquished control of the business of healthcare. And now the people making the decisions, people making the policies, people making the the important calls, they’ve never actually treated a patient, they’ve never served the patient, they don’t know what it is like to to serve somebody in that capacity, they don’t understand the nuances of delivering health care services. And so that’s what we’re seeing all these problems. And so, in order to reverse that, we need more physician entrepreneurships we need more physician, more physicians who are self employed more physicians who are running their own practice doing it successfully serving patients with their own capacity to the best of their abilities. And and that’s why I focus so much my time and helping these doctors because as it started happening a couple of years ago, or several years ago, really this this comes back from this, you know from the 70s when doctors started relinquishing control of their practices. You go to medical school and nobody teaches you how to run a practice anymore. And you learn from rotations, you learn clinical skills, you learn how to treat patients, how to solve their claims. nickel problems, but nobody teaches you. And you don’t learn from the people who are practicing how to run a practice because everyone’s an employee. So you’re basically just being taught that that’s the way to go. And most doctors believe that it’s unsafe to run your own practice, and that it’s risky. And that’s my mission to teach them, show them that that no, it’s not help them equip them with the tools with the strategies with the knowledge they need a lot of the times with the help that they need the hands on help that they need, so that they can run their own independent practice more successfully. And that’s really the goal of what we’re trying to achieve with with all of our companies.

Sliman:

That’s really interesting, because this kind of relinquishing of the business side of thing. It’s more prominent in the healthcare industry. Why is that the case? Why is the healthcare professionals, they don’t involve themselves as deep in the business side of things as other industries or other professionals,

Ernesto:

what happens is that a lot of times doctors will, you know, there’s, there’s so much, there’s so much red tape, there are so many regulations that are so many things that that it has become very complex. And the reason it has become very complex is because we’re bringing in a lot of different players who want a piece of the $11.8 trillion per year, healthcare business worldwide, right. And so doctors, they, you know, nobody went to medical school, with the purpose of running a healthcare practice are very few of them. Most of them went to medical school, most of us went to medical school, with the idea with the intent of helping people overcome their health challenges. And so because nobody teaches us how to do business properly, once we go out, and we start seeing these difficulties, we tend to think that it’s so hard and we just don’t want to have anything to do with it. And we say, you know what, just give me the patience and you handle the business. As long as you pay me, okay? then then then it’s fine.

Ernesto:

But in reality, that is the riskiest position that we can be in because then somebody else is telling us how to practice somebody else is telling us what, what tests we can order, what medications we can prescribe, what is going to be reversed? What are the what are the treatment possibilities that we can do? We don’t have that freedom anymore. And that’s what’s contributing to the, to the burnout and the overwhelm of physicians? And to answer your question, I believe the reason why this started happening is because it began on an well intentioned decision, from physicians to say, you know, what, I just want to focus on dealing with my patients and for people on the other side, as well. So who are now hospital administrators back in the day, and they began as as just business majors saying, Hey, listen, I’ll help you, with the business side of things so that you can focus on running your practice. And and it’s crazy, because you very well said it, this only happens in medicine, you would never imagine something like this. And the example that I always give is like you would never imagine, in the military, somebody getting to the rank of general and making these battlefield decisions, who has never served as a soldier. And that’s exactly what’s happening in healthcare, you have CEOs of hospital systems, who have never been in the same room with a patient unless it’s a relative that they’re visiting.

Sliman:

Yeah, that’s what it was mind boggling to me. And I’d like that you’re actually going against the stream and advocating for business and entrepreneurship in healthcare. Speaking of which, what were some of the challenges you faced, when you first transitioned to this side of things? I’m pretty sure it was something new to you, and how did you navigate the challenges that you faced?

Ernesto:

Well, the challenges were everything it was it was doing something that I had never done before. I mean, I’ve always been entrepreneurial since the since I was a kid, you know, having different businesses and stuff. But, you know, when I started running healthcare practices, and in our own practice, I really didn’t know what the heck I was doing. And they were failing miserably. Because I thought it was all a matter of buying an ad here buying ads there. And you know, how do you get more patients? Well, we just get more ads, but I didn’t understand anything about marketing, anything on patient satisfaction, anything about, you know, delivering services, creating an offer anything of anything I didn’t really know. So I had to go out there and learn this. And just like many, many doctors, I came up with a system that teaches me to solve problems. So the first thing that I would normally think about is, how can I learn this and then came to the stupid ideas of, I’m just going to go get an MBA, and I see so many doctors get MBAs and that that is a stupidest way to spend another $50,000 because if you want to, if you finish medical school, and then suddenly you say, you know what I want to go into into corporate because I want to go into the pharmaceutical industry and climb the ranks, then sure go get an MBA because that’s going to be important. If all you want is to run your own practice.

Ernesto:

The last thing you need is an MBA you what you need is real life. experience and what you need is a mentor and a guide. And it’s a question of who, and not how so my biggest challenge was overcoming that overcoming my tendencies to think, how can I solve this problem? How am I going to learn these things? How am I going to do these things? And instead start thinking, who who can I bring in to do this part of the business? Who can I bring in who loves to do this and do that, and then my role was to be the leader, instead of bringing somebody in and letting them do it and run as they own and, and me becoming just a cog. It was okay, I want to lead this project. But I want to surround myself with people that are that are incredibly capable at their respective areas, so that they can do those things, instead of me having to go out there and learn, you know, learn marketing, and learn sales and learn copywriting and learn how to design a website and learn how to post on social media and learn how to, you know, create PR campaigns. That was that was probably the biggest challenge. And and once once I overcame that, that’s when I got the idea of you know, what, this is what I need to start doing for doctors. That’s actually what we do it both of my companies that, you know, practice growth formula, and that pockets in a box, we become that who, for doctors who have an idea who have a vision, and we just help them execute it.

Sliman:

Yeah, that’s a common dilemma I see when talking to physicians is that there’s really slow acceptance, when it comes to outsourcing in their work, or they may feel that they need to do everything themselves to make it perfect.

Sliman:

I mean, It’s good to have this perfectionist tendency, but it might hinder your progress. And you should embrace delegation, because it will make your life more easier. So Doc, I’ve read one of your articles about the different methods to grow a brand. I know you’re big on podcasting. And I really want to know, why do you think podcasting is the way to go for doctors as opposed to other channels?

Ernesto:

Well, I mean, podcasting is just a medium, right, it’s just a medium of distributing content. And as I was just talking to my partner yesterday at boxes in the box, and I said, the, at the end of the day, what we do at pockets of boxes is content marketing, some companies emphasize on Let’s help you create videos, some others say, I’m going to create articles for you some of their sale point to do social media. This is about creating audio content. And the reason I like audio content is so much is because every single practicing doctor, that that I know, and that you know, and that everyone knows, is already doing this, they just don’t realize it.

Ernesto:

If you ask any doctor who has been in practice for longer than six months, and you tell them what are the top 15 questions that you have answered more than more than 10 times in your office, they will be able to tell you what those questions are. And they’ll be able to tell you right away the answer that they give their patients, right? Because these are common things that they probably answer. So so there’s the ideas, right there is like okay, so why don’t you record them and now you have them as an asset. That is that is serving your patients that they don’t necessarily have to ask those questions. It’s something that if a lot of them are asking them to use because a lot of them will want to know these the answers to these questions, right.

Ernesto:

So it’s very easy. The reason I like podcasting for doctors because it’s very easy for them to create it when you think about an article perfectionism comes in and and they want it to be perfect. And they spend hours looking for references and they want to cite every article and they want to make sure that it’s not cherry picked and they want to make sure that it’s double and triple which doesn’t exist triple blind, but you know what to say is that, you know, and they want to be old, super ultra scientific and they want to cover all their bases and if you talk about video now they think that they need to go out there and buy a camera and lighting in the studio and get a video editor and then what not podcasting, you do it in your own time. You can you can literally record like in bed, you can you can record and in a hotel room, you can record early in the morning, you can record late at night you can you can do all sorts of things and then it’s just a matter of you have a conversation you have audio format that you can just hand over and that’s what we do a pocket in a box doctors just record their pockets, they send that over to us and we create everything else we do the marketing we do, you know the editing, the transcription, the marketing of it, the making sure that people share it, making sure that people you know discover it, but But the thing is, it’s just an acid like everything else that they’re doing. Now suddenly we have doctors who have a library of 300 episodes. So when a patient comes in and and you know for instance, we have this plastic surgeon right and and he does a lot of cosmetic surgeries and now when somebody books in a consultation, they ask what are they thinking about and they said y’all know what, uh, I’m thinking of doing something a mommy makeover or breast augmentation or tummy tuck or something like that.

Ernesto:

Now that people who are booking these consultations are able to book these consultations and they are also sending these patients like, oh, by the way, you know, the doctor has recorded these five podcast episodes on that topic. So make sure that you listen to them before you come in. So what happens, you’re indoctrinating your patients, you’re talking, you’re literally whispering in their ear about your products and your processes. And these are people who are already interested in them, the moment that they set foot in your office, and you have never met them, they already know you, because you’ve been talking to them. So it’s, it’s incredibly powerful. In when, when used correctly. And I think, just like with every other medium, the important thing to consider about podcasting is that you need to do it right. The hard part is not recording, as most people think, when when I talk to somebody, and they’re like, Oh, my God, you want to charge us how much because we normally charge seven to $10,000 to launch a podcast. And they said, you want to charge $10,000 for launch a podcast, my kids got one and didn’t do anything for that. I said, Yes.

Ernesto:

But the problem is that nobody’s listening to your kids podcast. And what we need, we need to figure out it is an asset. So we need to create a brand, we need to figure out who’s going to listen to it, we need to figure out who we’re going to target the topics that we’re going to be covering the graphics, what it’s going to look like, what did the copy all of those things, because we want people to listen to it. And because it is an asset that is going to continue growing and value for you and your practice, eventually, and it’s going to continue delivering patients to you in 10 years. So you produce it once, and you have it there forever. And that’s why I like it so much. Because it’s easy to produce when it’s well planned out. And then it serves you forever, and you don’t have to pay salary. You don’t have to do anything. They’re constantly selling for you right there.

Sliman:

Yeah, and the one point I wanted to drill home, I think this is a point you made in your article is the podcast is also easy to syndicate to other forms of, let’s say media, you can make one episode and make an article out of it. You can make of video out of it, you can transcribe it, you can do a lot of things with one recording of the episode.

Ernesto:

Exactly, Yeah, that’s a great point. Thank you for bringing that up. Because that is again, that is something that we do for clients, they record an episode. But then from that episode, we not only have the podcast episode, we have a video that goes to YouTube, we have little little snippets that go on Instagram that go on Facebook, that go on Twitter, we’ve got an article from the from the transcript, we’ve got the show notes. So we’ve got a bunch of content, some of it evergreen, that we repost it eventually. So So literally, you create one asset, and that feeds your entire marketing structure. And that’s what I mean, it’s important to plan it ahead of time, because if not, you’re just spending time recording and nobody’s gonna listen to it. And you’re not going to be leveraging It is like bringing employees and just letting them slack off.

Sliman:

Yeah, there is a lot of work going into it, it’s not just recording and uploading it, there is a plothra of things you do and companies like what Podcast In A Box, I can see how this is helpful for a medical professional because I don’t think they will can or have the time to do a lot of things while staying on top on their own as a practitioner is just too much. And you’d be spreading yourself too thin.

Sliman:

So speaking of practice growth formula, I really want to go deep into this company of yours. Can you walk us through out what you do to with your client in in practice growth formula first? And also on how can that help medical professionals?

Ernesto:

Yeah, so originally practice growth formula was a consultancy agency that I started building on the side while I was still practicing and some of my friends who are also also physicians, they would they would ask me questions, they say, oh, how do you do this? How do you do that, and I started helping them out with their marketing with their business strategy with you know, recruiting, growing a team and all these things that are necessary for for a business right.

Ernesto:

And and and they started getting results. And eventually they started recommending me to some of their friends who were also doctors whom I had never met and when people I had never met started contacting me wanting business advice, I started charging for it. And, and so that’s, you know, a business with business was born right there. And when we decided when my wife and I decided that we wanted to have more, more location freedom. It was a very easy transition into doing this full time and originally was just a consultancy, and then I realized that a lot of doctors who are currently employed because originally was just working with doctor who already had started their practice they had already taken the leap and they were struggling so we helped them get out of the whatever slump they were in. But But then we also noticed that a lot of doctors wanted to get out of being employed because they didn’t like being told how to practice they didn’t like being told how much they could make. They didn’t like being told the hours that they needed to work. They didn’t like being mistreated. By Insurance by pharma by pretty much everyone, right? But they really didn’t. They were very overwhelmed by all the steps and all the things that they needed to consider, right? Like, okay, I’m going to need a logo, I’m going to need legal advice, I’m going to need to set up a separate LLC, I’m going to need to set up systems, I need to set up an email marketing platform, you’re going to need to set up a strategy.

Ernesto:

So I realized that we already had this network of people that we were already working with. So I said, You know what, what if you if instead of you having to go out there and interview with freelancer, graphic designer and a freelancer, a video editor, and a freelancer, VA and a freelancer, this and a freelancer that would have you just hired the one person. And in this case, it’s us for for the amount that he would pay for one good full time salaried employee, and you have everything will build the business for you. And we’ll help you get it off the ground and get you up to the next level. So that’s what we that’s what we decided. It’s called pgf. Lux, which is our practice growth formula Lux, and it’s we help them build luxury practices from the ground up, we help them strategize, graded, the the ideal target, create everything that’s needed, if they need graphic design, it’s included, if they need audio design, video, podcasting, pretty much anything, and they just have the one point of contact, they don’t have to be chasing freelancers all over the place, they don’t have to be figuring out what they need.

Ernesto:

We provide all of that for them. And that’s been very well received. I mean, 2020 despite everything that was happening, it was it was a great year for us because doctors realized that they were in a very fragile position, they realized that you know, what, if I don’t start taking control of this, I don’t know. I mean, I might get terminated anytime and doctors were getting their hours cut, they were getting, you know, the the work getting downsized, they were getting fired, some of them, they were getting their practices closed, they didn’t know how to pivot and create an online business suddenly. So they were losing their income, almost overnight. So that’s, that’s what we did. And that’s been working very well we have we have a large team of people that we work with, and it’s a very high touch program. It’s a very exclusive program. But it’s it’s it’s very rewarding. We help them build a luxury practice that they’re that they really enjoy. And it is a route it’s a practice built around their lifestyle as opposed of trying to build your lifestyle around. Whatever time your practice leaves you.

Sliman:

That’s really cool. What I like the most about Practice Growth Formula is that it’s owned by someone who has been in the trenches and knows the industry. It’s not just anyone. So really cool stuff there. Doc, if you had to start from the beginning of your journey as an entrepreneur, what would you do differently?

Ernesto:

As an entrepreneur, I don’t know. Because like I said, I began very early on and I’ve liked it, I’ve learned from all my mistakes, what i what i would definitely do, and this is something as well, that now that you bring it up, I do want to put in a shameless plug here that I am offering to mentor young doctors who are in residency in getting ready to go there and practice and help them teach them the ropes. And this is a mentoring program, it’s it’s free, I’m not charging them anything for this, they do have to apply right. So that they can learn some of the ropes and they can practice on their own. So what I would I personally would do is if I was getting ready to practice, if I was in medical school, I would definitely focus and double down on building creating a nurturing a personal brand, I see so many doctors that are that are forgetting about this. And it’s a great time for you as you’re going through medical school to start documenting your journey and start creating, you know, an Instagram profile or a Facebook page or, you know, the tick tock, whatever they call the tick tock thingies, or a podcast, right? Where you’re where you’re documenting your journey. And and you’re sharing your expertise. And you might say, Well, I’m not still a doctor. And that’s fine, because you’re not giving medical advice, but you are already more knowledgeable than and health than that 99% of the world population. So you can be valuable. And what’s going to happen is that if you start doing that, you will eventually find ways find ways to monetize that, whether it is with the book deal, whether it is with, you know, with with sponsored messages, whether it is just with attention, because if you’re if you’re a person that is now followed by 150,000 people on Instagram, and suddenly you’re faced with another person who has equivalent scores, and you’re both fighting for the same residency spot at, say, Johns Hopkins or any other highly coveted residency spot in the country or elsewhere, you can actually leverage that and say, You know what, yeah, but I’m very well known.

Ernesto:

There’s 150,000 people that are following me because of my health advice, and that I’m going to now be posting from your hospital. So that’s leverage right there. Or you can start getting yourself booked for speaking engagements and you can start becoming a keynote speaker. And the great thing about this is that it really just puts you out there and gives you awesome And then if at the end of the day, you just want to be an employee, it’s fine. But then it’s your decision, you’re no longer forced into that. So the one thing I would do differently, I would definitely start building a personal brand. Very, very early on whether it was writing article like is it whatever whatever you enjoy writing articles, start a podcast, start a YouTube channel, whatever you want. But but be consistent about it and understand that it is a long journey is it is for the long term, you don’t expect to go viral in three months, you just expect to be consistent.

Sliman:

Yeah, it’s a great advice especially, it’s a nice way to expand your sphere of influence from the get go.

Ernesto:

Exactly.

Sliman:

So Doctor E, Any takeaways or book recommendation to share with the listeners?

Ernesto:

So if you’re going to start building a personal brand, or something along those lines, I cannot start, I cannot emphasize more the importance of learning a couple of the tricks and you know, you can go to the typical and Gary Vaynerchuk like Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, it’s still a classic. I really like Marcus Sheridan, they ask you answer, and that’s about content marketing, but that will that will teach you how to be transparent as a business owner, David meerman, Scott’s the new rules of PR. It’s actually the new rules of marketing and PR, or something along those lines. And it’s the seventh edition. And it’s phenomenal as well, because it touches upon many of these different aspects and and his other books, na cracy is also great, great, great. And those are, those are phenomenal learning resources. And if I may, I wanted to offer for your listeners for somebody who’s listening to this and thinking, you know what, I want to start a podcast, we put together a checklist and you can just get it for free pockets of box.co. forward slash career frontiers, and and you can just get the checklist right there. And it’s gonna guide you step by step, what are the things you need, and it’s it’s a no fluff thing, from start to finish. Very easy, very straightforward. You can have a podcast up and published in a matter of hours. Of course, you know, Apple takes a while to approve it, but but your pockets will be up and ready in a matter of hours if you if you follow the steps in that checklist. Because the most important thing is just to get your stuff out there. Forget your perfectionism, you’re not serving anyone, by keeping a podcast episode by keeping an article by keeping a video in, you know, as you keep perfecting it. And as you keep making it better and better. just publish it. As Seth Godin says just ship it as soon as you finish and you should be a little bit embarrassed, especially at first, but but then you can you can build better things afterwards. So yeah, that’s those are those are my pieces of advice for in that regard.

Sliman:

Thank you so much Dr. Ernesto for taking the time. And this is such an insightful advice, advice, even to me, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. So if you want to reach Dr Ernesto, you can connect with him on LinkedIn at DrErnestonessmd and if you’d like more of Dr. Ernesto, he co-hosts The Entrepreneur MD podcast. So make sure to tune in to that. You can also visit the website, pgformula.com and learn more about Dr. E’s business consulting programs. And if you’re too busy and want to start your own show you can head over to podcastinabox.co and check out their done-for-you podcast service. Dr. Ernesto, do you have anything you want to add to that?

Ernesto:

No, thank you so much for the invite. It’s always a pleasure being able to hopefully inspire other healthcare professionals into going going into business for themselves. And it’s not only for themselves, but it is for their patients, their patients are are better served if they are able to practice to the best of their ability. So as long as I can do that, I’m always happy to join you.

Sliman:

You are most welcome. All right, ladies and gentlemen, that was Dr. Ernesto Gutierrez