Innovating Care: Dr. Norman Silver’s Journey with QDoc

Dr. Norman Silver is the CEO of QDoc Inc., a virtual care platform designed to connect patients with physicians through an innovative work distribution process that is currently patent pending. QDoc’s mission is to ensure equal access to quality medical care for all Canadians, regardless of their geographic location or socio-economic status. As the company prepares for international expansion, the mission statement is evolving to “provide equal access to quality medical care for ALL regardless of geographic location or socio-economic status.” We at EliteX, are proud to introduce Dr. Norman Silver as one of the 20 Elite CEOs in 2024.

Dr. Silver’s career began in pediatric emergency medicine in 2001. Early in his career, he implemented several innovative projects, including a nurse-initiated x-ray program at triage, which reduced wait times by two hours for patients with minor injuries, and an Oral Rehydration Program that efficiently managed gastroenteritis cases. In 2004, he launched a pediatric locum program in Brandon, Manitoba, ensuring consistent 24/7 pediatric care in the region for two decades. In 2006, he founded The Minor Injury Clinic for kids at the Pan Am Clinic in Winnipeg, which now treats 8,000 non-surgical pediatric orthopedic cases annually, allowing orthopedic surgeons to focus on surgical cases. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Dr. Silver established an appointment-based drive-through testing site in Winnipeg, demonstrating his ability to quickly mobilize resources and respond to public health needs. This site saw 8 patients every 5 minutes, operating seven days a week. He also co-founded The Minor Illness and Injury Clinic, the first clinic in Manitoba to offer urgent care services outside a hospital, now serving 50,000 patients annually.

“The journey to revolutionize healthcare starts with a vision, but it’s our commitment to that vision that drives real change. – Dr. Norman Silver”

In 2021, Dr. Silver co-founded QDoc with Mr. David Berkowitz, investing $500,000 of his own funds and assembling a world-class team. His vision for QDoc is rooted in his belief that all individuals should have access to quality medical care, akin to having a doctor friend for the entire population. This vision inspired him to leave his role as a Pediatric Emergency Physician to focus on expanding QDoc’s reach. Dr. Silver describes his leadership style as visionary, driven by a clear and compelling mission. He regularly shares impactful stories, or “mission moments,” with his team to illustrate the tangible benefits of their work. His key principles and values include:

  1. Quality: Commitment to excellence in all activities, ensuring secure and trusted technology.
  2. Diversity: Valuing all team members and fostering an inclusive environment where ideas are welcomed from everyone.
  3. Ownership: Encouraging accountability and innovation, with a focus on delivering consistent results.
  4. Compassion: Prioritizing the well-being of team members and patients, treating every encounter with the care one would extend to close friends.

These values not only guide Dr. Silver’s decision-making but are also instilled in QDoc’s staff, empowering them to make decisions aligned with the company’s core principles. Dr. Silver’s leadership and commitment to innovation continue to drive QDoc’s success in providing accessible, quality healthcare.

In May 2023, Dr. Norman Silver faced a major challenge as CEO of QDoc when Doctor’s Manitoba announced a significant reduction in physician payments, effective in just one week. This change threatened to put QDoc out of business, as the company heavily relied on these payments. However, Dr. Silver had anticipated such an issue and spent the previous year building relationships with government legislators and creating goodwill in the community. Mobilizing patients and doctors to contact their government representatives and Doctor’s Manitoba, QDoc managed to secure a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Health. By emphasizing their mission to serve underserved populations, QDoc successfully negotiated a compromise, allowing the company to continue operating. Dr. Silver ensures that QDoc stays ahead in a competitive market by fostering a culture of continuous innovation. The company prioritizes a seamless experience for both physicians and patients, taking direct feedback from both groups. Dr. Silver encourages partners to share their ideal workflows and works towards these goals incrementally, using real market feedback to improve and innovate continuously.

To maintain a healthy work-life balance, Dr. Silver avoids hard scheduling on weekends, although he sometimes works on Saturdays. He exercises daily in the mornings and consistently seeks to delegate more work to qualified hires. He believes that a CEO’s role evolves over time, with early responsibilities gradually being passed on to focus more on strategy and vision. QDoc hires a diverse group of individuals and takes advantage of government grants that support the hiring of diverse applicants. The company has intentional policies to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within its workforce.

“Success in healthcare isn’t measured by profit margins, but by the lives we touch and the impact we make. – Dr. Norman Silver”

QDoc maintains a strong corporate culture driven by its mission to support underserved communities. The company partners with First Nations groups, retirement communities, organizations serving the homeless, and rural municipalities. QDoc staff participate in philanthropic activities, such as the recent “Home for Dinner” program at Ronald McDonald House. Environmentally, QDoc estimates it saves approximately 250 tons of CO2 annually by reducing the need for travel to see doctors. The company also provides electric bikes for employees to encourage eco-friendly commuting.

Advice for Aspiring Leaders

Dr. Silver offers the following advice to aspiring leaders:

  1. Keep moving forward and break tasks into manageable steps.
  2. Be relentless; any obstacle can be overcome.
  3. Don’t pursue a venture solely for the money. Passion for your mission is essential, and financial success will follow.
  4. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and hire to complement your strengths and fill gaps.
  5. Approach partnerships with a focus on what you can offer the other party, not just what you can gain. Understand that your product or service may not be for everyone, and that’s okay. Create value for your partners.

Dr. Norman Silver foresees a future where the first point of contact for most medical care will be virtual. He envisions QDoc becoming the go-to solution for people seeking medical attention, so much so that “QDoc it” becomes a common phrase. This vision underscores his commitment to making QDoc the first choice for medical care. Dr. Silver takes great pride in QDoc’s rapid growth and success. In less than three years, QDoc is on track to handle over 80,000 patient visits in 2024 and is preparing to expand to other regions within the next 12 months. A significant achievement is the partnership with the Downtown Community Safety Partnership, where QDoc donated tablets to aid homeless individuals, allowing them to receive medical care directly from the streets. Additionally, QDoc established Canada’s first First Nations Paramedicine Service, equipping paramedics with tablets to connect patients to doctors from their homes.

One particularly memorable moment involved saving the life of a four-week-old ex-premature baby. A walk-in clinic had overlooked the severity of the baby’s condition, but thanks to QDoc’s system, the baby was connected to a pediatric emergency physician who quickly identified the critical condition. The baby was intubated and transferred to a pediatric intensive care unit within three hours, undoubtedly saving its life. Stories like this demonstrate the profound impact QDoc has on patient lives, reinforcing the team’s dedication to their mission.

Dr. Silver fosters a positive company culture by regularly sharing “mission moments” that highlight the real-world impact of QDoc’s work. The company’s mission statement and core values are frequently discussed and embodied in daily operations, ensuring that all team members are aligned with the vision and values of QDoc. According to Dr. Silver, Elite CEOs are distinguished by their passion for the mission, effective delegation, strategic use of time, accountability, willingness to take calculated risks, and seeking help from mentors. He embodies these qualities by deeply engaging with QDoc’s mission, empowering his team to make decisions, focusing on high-impact activities, taking responsibility for business outcomes, embracing calculated risks for growth, and surrounding himself with knowledgeable mentors.

To stay ahead of emerging trends and developments, Dr. Silver emphasizes the importance of mentorship and continuous learning. From the start, he recognized the need for guidance in business processes and scaling, which led him to join a startup incubator and participate in various entrepreneurial groups. This continuous learning approach has been crucial for QDoc’s growth. Dr. Silver finds excitement in challenges and setbacks, viewing them as opportunities to employ creative problem-solving. He finds great reward in overcoming obstacles through innovative solutions, which has been a key aspect of QDoc’s journey.

“Innovation is not just about what we create, but how we transform lives. – Dr. Norman Silver”

Advice for Aspiring CEOs

Dr. Silver’s mantra for aspiring CEOs is that the entrepreneurial journey is 90% excitement and 10% terror. He advises to keep moving forward, think creatively about problems, and understand that good things will happen with perseverance. At QDoc, all ideas are considered equal, and team members know that their suggestions are taken seriously. Dr. Silver values the back-and-forth exchange of ideas, which has led to some of the company’s best innovations.

Looking ahead, Dr. Silver is excited about several goals and initiatives for QDoc, including:

  1. Moving beyond the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) stage.
  2. Expanding to new jurisdictions and countries.
  3. Adding specialists and a mental health stream to the platform.
  4. Enhancing the billing solution.
  5. Developing solutions for pharmacies, labs, and a doctor-to-doctor communication application.

Dr. Silver’s leadership and vision, coupled with his commitment to innovation and core values, continue to drive QDoc forward, ensuring the company remains at the forefront of virtual healthcare innovation.