As a part of my interview series with prominent medical professionals about “How To Grow Your Private Practice” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Lara Oboler.
An interventional cardiologist, Dr. Lara Oboler is the co-founder of MD Concepts, which offers natural, clinically-proven Revactin to support male erectile health. Previously, Dr. Oboler co-founded PregPrep, a nutraceutical company focused on pregnancy and conception currently sold in over 17,000 retail stores in the US as well as online. She holds an MD from George Washington University and a BS in mathematics from Tufts University and completed her residency and two fellowships at Mount Sinai and Beth Israel hospitals in New York. She is also the Chair of the Board of Advisors for the George Washington Medical School and sits on the Board of Trustees at the Allen-Stevenson School in New York.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell our readers a bit about your ‘backstory”? What made you want to start your own practice?
I was fortunate to have a career goal ever since I was a child. I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps, and become an interventional cardiologist. I became a partner at my practice when I was 35, and at that point, I was ready to start a family. I thought that I would get pregnant right away, and I was quite surprised when I realized getting pregnant was going to be more difficult than I imagined. But I faced my problem head on and started intently reviewing every medical journal I could find to identify an answer to my problem. Through my research, I found out that by using an over the counter product, a mucolytic, I was able to get pregnant. After figuring out this solution on my own, I decided I wanted to help other women that may be facing similar issues. That was the beginning of my first company, PregPrep. Today, there are six PregPrep products that support a woman’s fertility and help couples conceive. All products are currently sold nationwide in stores including CVS, Walgreens and Amazon.
After the success of PregPrep, I had multiple doctors reach out to me for help with getting their ideas “from their heads to the shelves.” While I was always open to helping in any way possible, I was not interested in partnering with any of them to launch their companies — until I met Dr. Jacob Rajfer, and soon discovered that we had something very much in common.
Dr. Rajfer is a Professor of Urology at UCLA, and did a pivotal piece of research that led to the creation of Viagra. He has published hundreds of research articles in peer review journals, has spoken at dozens of national urologic conferences, and has written numerous chapters in urology textbooks. He came to me with several scientific preclinical studies on REVACTIN, and after, he presented his incredible data to me, I knew that I had to be a part of this revolutionary product. As a cardiologist, I have seen many men in my office with symptoms of erectile dysfunction, since once they present symptoms the first course of treatment is to see a heart specialist, since heart health and erectile function can be directly related. During the visit, many men have asked me if there are alternatives to pharmaceutical products to maintain and achieve an erection.
Managing being a provider and a business owner can often be exhausting. Can you elaborate on how you manage both roles?
I am thankful that my passion for helping others enabled me to have the perseverance to follow my entrepreneurial drive. I get to do what I love while helping many more people than I get to see in my private practice through the products my company offers. I have a strong support system and I’m passionate about what I do — it certainly helps make the work fulfilling vs exhausting.
As a business owner, how do you know when to stop working IN your business (maybe see a full patient load) and shift to working ON your business?
Helping people has been and always will be my passion and priority. Although I have had to decrease my amount of in-office time to see cardiac patients — I am always available to them.
I “work” 24/7 on my business. I use quotations because it doesn’t feel like work. I feel like the luckiest woman in the world because I have the privilege of doing both!!
From completing your degree to opening a clinic and becoming a business owner, the path was obviously full of many hurdles. How did you build up resilience to rebound from failures? Is there a specific hurdle that sticks out to you?
I have never turned away from challenges. I’m in a male dominated industry, and I find it empowering! I grew up attending an all-girls’ school where females obviously all held senior class positions including class president, valedictorian and captain of the basketball team. It never occurred to me that any of those roles would be filled by anyone other than a girl.
I was one of only two math majors in college. When I started my practice — I was the only female interventional cardiologist in Washington DC. I’m currently the only female flag football coach in my son’s league. So being a CEO in a male dominated industry really doesn’t faze me. In fact, if I can help educate men that they can take a more proactive approach to their sexual aging, I will take on any obstacle that comes my way, since I know I will be helping men live more fulfilling lives without relying on pharmaceutical medications that are not addressing their issue long term.
What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Grow Your Private Practice” and why?
Private practice requires not only knowledge but also good communication skills. You also have to be available both to referring doctors as well as the patients. In a nutshell: you need to be available, affable, knowledgeable, a good listener and a good communicator.
Many healthcare providers struggle with the idea of “monetization.” How did you overcome that mental block?
I understand that struggle. You don’t go into medicine because you want to make a lot of money. Your goal really has to be to help people.
Having said that, there is nothing wrong about being compensated for working hard — and every doctor I know works very hard.
What do you do when you feel unfocused or overwhelmed?
I’m very lucky in that I’m an extremely focused and efficient person. However, I feel overwhelmed when I’m running late. Because I try to pack so much into each day — I need things to run like a Swiss watch — and not everything is always under my control!!
I’m a huge fan of mentorship throughout one’s career — None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Who has been your biggest mentor? What was the most valuable lesson you learned from them?
My biggest mentor was my father. He was a true doctor in every sense of the word. He was brilliant and compassionate and had the most incredible bedside manner. He is the reason I wanted to become a doctor. I had the immense pleasure of being able to work alongside him for 4 years. I miss him every day.
What resources did you use (Blogs, webinars, conferences, coaching, etc.) that helped jumpstart you in the beginning of your business?
At the beginning, we were really flying by the seat of our pants. We took it slow and spent a full year writing out a business plan. Along the way — we had advisors as well as an accelerator program and ultimately investors. Starting your own business has to stem from true passion. It’s a lot of work and it can be scary — but in the end — you have to believe in and rely on yourself.
For other incredible interviews, please check out our podcast: Healthcare Heroes.
A special thanks to Dr. Oboler again! The purpose of this interview series is to highlight the entrepreneurs, innovators, advocates, and providers inside Healthcare. Our hope is to inspire future healthcare providers on the incredible careers that are possible!