Tom S. Chang, MD

Tom Chang, MD is an internationally renowned clinician, surgeon, and educator. Dr. Chang has given over 120 lectures in 15 countries and has written over 50 peer-reviewed publications. He has been listed in Who’s Who and Best Doctors in America. He currently serves as the associate editor of the journal Ophthalmology, the editor-in-chief of the Retina Times and is on the editorial board of Evidence-Based Eye Care. He was awarded the top teaching award by ophthalmology residents for three consecutive years.

He serves on the scientific advisory boards of several Fortune 500 companies and previously was the team ophthalmologist for the NBA Vancouver Grizzlies. His patients include many CEOs, professional athletes, and physicians.

His research interests include health outcome assessments and drug delivery systems. His clinical interests include macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Where did the idea for career come from?

From the beginning, there has always been an expectation that a physician-owned vertically integrated eye care delivery platform would provide the best opportunity to provide excellence in patient care and excellence in patient experience. The latter is almost equally important as today’s patients are no longer willing to wait hours for an appointment or not be treated with the efficiency of a well-run organization. The doctors of Acuity Eye Group have joined the organization to become part of a new model of eye care delivery that is tech-driven, patient-focused and centered by the dual-core missions of excellence in both patient care and patient experience.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I love to see patients. There was a time when I tried to see fewer and become more of an administrative individual. I realized this was not really making me happy so I went back to seeing patients full time. We have a strong core group of executives that run Acuity and either email or call me during the day. During breaks in the clinical load, I am able to address administrative issues. Most mornings there are 7 AM conference calls either for Acuity or for IntelligentDx. I learned a long time ago that the best way to accelerate progress was to have twice weekly meetings with detailed minutes of the discussion and necessary action items

How do you bring ideas to life?

One of the critical things that are required to make an idea a reality is to start a business around the concept. This requires a business plan, budget, and expectations for the next 12-24 months. Without the formal approach to developing these outlines and plans, ideas tend to not progress.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The obvious trend is that of machine learning and how it will help in everything from running the practice to helping our doctors provide better outcomes. As noted above, we elected to start a new company we called IntelligentDX (InDx) that has been privately funded and has, as its core mission, the ability to improve clinical outcomes in eyecare through machine learning algorithms.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I read a lot. In fact, when there is a new project/idea I read everything in sight and then ask more questions including “what to read next.”

What advice would you give your younger self?

Learn computer programming.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

In two years, machines will be designed to make better decisions than humans for the most common chronic eye diseases

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Being an entrepreneur is about taking risks. I believe that the hassles and time-involved need to be studied in excessive detail as these are critical to future success.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Simple benchmarks that give a clear understanding of the health of the business. For example, the number of minutes a patient waits from the time they check-in at the office to the time they check out. This one metric is the best surrogate of patient satisfaction.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Picking the wrong early partners and making them equal in ownership structure before it was appropriate. For partners to be truly equal, there must be consistency in contributions and also risk tolerance.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Developing a blockchain process to track and validate the provenance of dogs and their owners.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

My 10-year-old daughter is a competitive horse jumper and equestrian events are her life. I bought her an outfit she had wanted for a long time on a whim and her smile was priceless.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Google docs: best thing that was ever invented. I start documents then invite key people to the document and encourage them to push the idea/document along.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Good to Great by John Collins. It is a simple book on what steps good companies need to take to improve their approach to excellence.

What is your favorite quote?

If you do good you will do well. Also its equally important corollary: “if you do well, you can do more good”

Key Learnings:

• If you have a great idea, start a company around it. This will discipline you and those around you to take the idea seriously and model out a path forward. Remember that “timing” is probably ⅔ of the reason for success so get going with it.

• Technology will play an increasingly important role in healthcare in the future. From Blockchain to machine learning almost everything we do in healthcare will change. As a result, the process will become more precise, more efficient and lead to better outcomes. Humans will always be important in this but these assists will dramatically and fundamentally change how medical care is delivered.

• Hire excellent people around you to allow you to become more effective.