Dr. Shitel Patel went from living in a motel to becoming a successful plastic surgeon. Dr. Patel’s journey was shaped by his family’s determination to create additional revenue streams, including real estate investments and this entrepreneurial spirit led to start his own private practice. However, he soon realized the inadequacies in his own practice and began exploring how software could help. This led him to found AdVital, a company that provides AI practice software solutions for plastic surgeons and med spas.
Stay tuned to hear my interview with Dr. Patel and learned how I joined the AdVital team, and why I believe it will be transforming the healthcare industry.
AdVital – https://www.advitalmd.com
Mike Woo-Ming MD: If you’ve been a listener to the podcast for some time, you know I love success stories of entrepreneurial physicians, and this one is certainly no exception. This doctor started off living in a motel while in fact his family owned a motel. Then developed other revenue generating assets such as real estate, and this really shaped him to be an entrepreneurial doctor.
He’d ended up becoming a plastic surgeon, had a very successful practice, but found some inadequacies. In his own practice that he believes software could help. And it certainly has done that and it, his company has grown. He’s helped other plastic surgeons, other med spas. In fact, I love the company so much.
I actually became a part of the company and I’ll show you that story. We actually got connected as so many of us do on online through Facebook. I was really excited about what he was doing and really transforming a private practice, which is, as I mentioned, is it’s a lost start. There’s very, there seems to be every day there’s fewer and fewer of he’s a plastic surgeon and we’re gonna talk about his journey and really about a software that he’s developed that.
I believe this is gonna transform even more practices, and hopefully we’ll get more doctors getting back into a private practice. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce my good friend, Dr. Shitel Patel. Shitel, how are you doing today?
Shitel Patel MD: Good, good. Thanks Mike for having me on the podcast. Excited to share my journey so far with others so maybe they can take a similar one.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: So you know a little bit about your story, but I’ll give this… I’m nerdy. I think you are a little bit too, but, I used to, I still collect comic books or I used to collect comic books when I was a kid. I’m all about secret identities, so how did Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man. Clark Kent becomes Superman. So how did Shitel become this software entrepreneur?
Shitel Patel MD: Yeah. So it’s like any hero or villain’s journey is through pain, right? And I grew up on a motel and I’d be working night shifts and I’d be, all I had was a computer and no customers since it was like one of those smaller motels in Florida.
And I self-taught myself in terms of programming and anything and everything to do with the computer. It was like back when you had to dial up and you had to make noises with your mouth and, to get the everything to connect and, start the world of the internet. And so that’s where my journey started.
In terms of programming. I never thought I would use it after I went into medicine until, different areas of my training that kind of just brought it back. I’ve always been a huge Efficiency freak, right? In terms of trying to be as efficient as possible to make the most of all the time that I have.
And even in residency when I’d rotate through the ICUs and I had to have to rewrite notes every day. And I’m like, why are we rewriting the same thing every day? This is crazy. And so I computerized that in the, one of the training programs I was at and you know that now they, that they could read everything.
The biller is and the coders is literally like a month after they’re like, thank you so much for computers. Now we can read it and we can bill all this stuff. And then three months later I get a call from the CEO of the hospital and they’re like, our revenue has bumped up immensely in the ICU because now everyone could read the notes and they’ve been billing appropriately for all this stuff.
There’s so much revenue we probably lost out on, right? And so it was just like these simple things that I… it was outta my pain, but there’s all these downstream dominoes, right? That affect the entire, business side of things. And then it happened again essentially in private practice of starting my own private practice, going through learning the whole business side of it.
I grew up in business and yet I was like, wait, I’m missing the piece of this and why doesn’t this exist on this side of the street in terms of medicine? And it just didn’t. And so out of all the different frustrations of marketing, sales, operations, and that piece, That’s where a lot of the products and the ideas for AdVital were born.
It was mainly at a necessity that we made the product for our own practice and then we had friends that started using it and it was super successful to them, and then it turned into a product and now we’re here where we have practices from coast to coast that use it.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: That’s amazing. So I’m gonna back up a bit. You mentioned that you grew up in, in business. Tell me more about that.
Shitel Patel MD: Yeah, so my parents were completely entrepreneurial. Like my mom was a nurse, my dad was a quality control engineer for Ford Motor Springs, and they took all their life savings and they bought a motel In Florida and they said, okay, we’re gonna do it on our own terms, our own way, and grow it from there.
From there, they took that motel and multiplied it, got into real estate, got a bunch of small single family homes, got into bigger real estate, and in that spirit of it, they taught me each one of these things along the way. Whether by choice or by force, right? And that’s just a piece of it.
And I’ve always been around that business side of it or the jack of all trades of cutting grass and fixing plumbing, piping, whatever it was. And that’s a piece that led me to plastic surgery because I had all these tools that I didn’t really know that existed on the medicine side of things that I was using in the real world. And then it just transformed itself in terms of private practice.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: Again, I’m gonna have you dig down a little bit because you went from mowing lawns to to plastic surgery. So how does that connection explain that to me a little bit?
Shitel Patel MD: Yeah. And so in terms of in terms of variety of stuff, it’s Once you do certain labor jobs?
I think when through my childhood, it’s so many different things in terms of electrical, plumbing cutting grass and stuff like that. There are similarities in terms of medicine, right? If you think about plumbing, vascular surgery is no different than plumbing. It’s a different type of it.
Veins, arteries, something has to come in, something has to go out. There’s different ways in to approach these things. And my brain was already had these tools and ready to go for certain areas of medicine, of the, of a different way to look at it that was already out there in nature. And I think some of those things also helped me, guide me towards plastic surgery because it gave me the ability to merge all those tools from childhood that I didn’t know that I had, and that would surface in a different way to create, the results I can create right now in terms of plastic surgery.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: Now, you know that there is this belief out here that doctors are horrible business people, horrible entrepreneurs. You seem to buck the trend in, in that why do you think that is? And do you believe that. That saying is true?
Shitel Patel MD: Yeah, and I do think there’s a majority of that saying is true. And I think the biggest thing that for a entrepreneur to grow and be successful is understanding that they need mentorship and there’s a piece of the ego that needs to go by the wayside.
And sometimes as physicians, we’re taught to come into the room with authority and demonstrate that authority. And if we’re not able to look past that and ask the right questions of what’s holding you up or what’s in the way for you to get to your goals, then that’s where some of these problems ensue.
And sometimes physicians have a tendency to put their head in the sand with the business side of things because they’re just so focused on the medical side of things and that’s what they were trained to do. And we don’t get a lot of training. In terms of the entrepreneurial part, in terms of the business side of things the people management part, there’s all these other little nuances that go into consideration to actually running a successful business.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: Now you had mentioned that, you grew up with entrepreneurs. Your dad had a motel, then got into real estate. But since I’ve gotten to know you, I’ve really been admiring, like your mindset in terms of that can do perseverance, just as some transparency.
You recently invited me to be part of your company and with AdVital and that mindset came from somewhere. Was that from your parents? Was that maybe through some your reading? Where did you get, where did you get that? Because being part of it, I’ve certainly seen the inside of a business and, as being an entrepreneur, there can be ups and downs and such, and there’s always obstacles that are in the way. What kind of solidified that for you that, that mindset, that can do attitude.
Shitel Patel MD: Yeah, I think the mindset was that, I think it was instilled in me as a kid from my parents in terms of their belief systems and then also our family belief systems. Also, I think I was fortunate to read a bunch of Tony Robbins when I was a kid, right?
In terms of self-help and mindset and the ability to change your perception and your perception can change reality. And so I think some of those things and having a vision and just following it, following your gut in terms of what it’s telling you and how to. Let it guide like your future journey and then also surrounding myself by the right people in the right environments and the right growth-minded people to then make an impact that I wanna leave in the time that I have. And I think that’s what drives me, like day in, day out, why I wake up, why I do the things I do, and how I can run a software company and a plastic surgery practice at the same time and still do things at, at a relatively high level for what I wanted to do.
And it revolves around that whole concept of saying, okay. This is who I am and this is who I’m not. And then going forward to say, if this is the end goal, it’s inevitable for me. And that’s the piece that I just remind myself through the days of the ups and downs and all the different journey pieces.
It’s enjoying that journey piece. And I’m so fortunate that you’re welcome to, that you decide to join part of the AdVital Journey and be part of it because it, it also pushes me to grow at a fast rate and do the bigger vision that we have.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: I love that. I knew that there was some Tony Robbins in there. I too read Tony Robbins, although I should probably should have been reading more principles of Internal Medicine, but I was being drawn more towards awakened the Giant Within, yeah during medical school. But it and then from there I also learned about Jim Rohn, which he was the mentor of Tony Robbins.
I actually even gravitate even more towards Jim Roh. This is practical. Knowledge that I hadn’t heard anywhere else, and then just becoming, there’s a solution there. We just have to be able to find it. Somebody has figured this out from us, and just as in medicine business Success leaves clues.
People have already done this before. It may not, here in the age of AI and stuff, people were doing things like this back then a hundred years ago in terms of just providing solutions to what people wanted. I also want to talk about your other superpower, and that’s Bijal, your wife.
And talk about her and how she has helped formulate your thinking and your drive in the launch of this company.
Shitel Patel MD: Yeah, she’s amazing, right? And so she’s the, best thing since sliced bread. She’s always a ball of energy and inspiration. So for her, she started off in interior design and then she does branding and business coaching and business strategy.
And for what she brings is always a positive light, a force of support in terms of making the bigger impact. She’s always about delayed gratification in terms of, hey if this is the end goal, then whatever we have to go through to get there, let’s do it. Because the end is greater.
The greater good for everybody is way better than anything in the middle, right? We don’t wanna settle for anything less than what we have in terms of our true potential. And so she is phenomenal in terms of a human being and the inspiration and everything that goes around it.
And she’s a powerful speaker as well. And so she, she brings it and the level of accountability is contagious, right? To hold yourself accountable and to be the best version of ourselves.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: Yeah. I love it. She was recently… Her weekly meeting and just pumped everybody up, in terms of like goals and like what we need to do and just thinking bigger…. that you’ve got a vision bigger than yourselves and let everybody be part of it. I love it.
So I wanna talk about the genesis of AdVital. You’d opened up your practice, but you were seeing things in your private practice that were not. Effective, and you’ve already established you’re big into efficiency.
So what exactly the problems were you seeing and what led you to say, “I’m gonna help others by developing a piece of software that they can really help myself and help my colleagues in this industry”?
Shitel Patel MD: Yeah, and so I think one of the biggest things that like caught my attention was that it didn’t have any steady patient flow.
I started a practice and I’m like, oh, you build it and then people will come. Yeah. I was like, not necessarily, there’s no field of dreams here, right? Like it’s like you have to consistently, show awareness to people that you’re there. Yeah. I was highly qualified, I’m board certified in general surgery, board certified in plastic surgery, did a craniofacial fellowship and just by putting up a sign, it didn’t mean that anybody knew I was there. So in terms of that piece of it, I was like trying to crack the crack the nut on marketing to see, Hey, how do I get my name out there? What is it? What’s happening? And the digital aid of medicine was just like ripe and booming in terms of social media was taking over everything and marketing had changed quite drastically in terms of how people would market previously and they would mark off like market off their laurels. All that stuff has been changing cuz the med spa space has been booming and that piece of it. So it’s right. Trying to figure out how I can fill my clinics, how can I have transparency?
I hired… I was like, oh, I’m gonna pay for the best marketing agencies. They’re gonna do this for me. And I was like, Nope, they’re not gonna do it for me. They’re not. Cuz they told me click through rates and impressions, but it didn’t mean anybody actually even showed up to the office. So I’m paying an arm and a leg and I don’t have any transparency.
I don’t have any process because I don’t even know what the process is, right? I’m like, oh, they come in, they greet them and then we do the next thing. I gotta. Had no idea on copywriting, verbiage, scripts, anything in terms of the process of this is what we’re gonna talk about. This is the treatment plan we’re gonna set up for them.
This is the process afterwards. I didn’t have any SOPs, like Standard Operating Procedures, didn’t know any of the things that even existed. And then, I thought there’s gotta be a better way right. Of, of doing this stuff. And that’s where, we started using other softwares, trying to piece these things together.
And it was just like I don’t have any good reporting if this is all separated in all the different avenues that you need to do in your practice to be successful. The right touch points, the right messaging, the right things out there. I didn’t have a way I was trying to duct take them together, but then it’s like, At some point in time, duct tape also wears off.
It doesn’t last forever, right? As much as NASA hopes, it lasts forever out in space. It doesn’t do that in your practice by piecing all these things together because you’re still having to manually spend hours on piecing the true story of your practice, of where people are coming from, who’s coming, and how are you doing in terms of the practice that you dreamt on building to say, how many people am I really helping?
Mike Woo-Ming MD: I love that. And I think that’s what a lot of people miss, and I’ve worked with business owners in medical and in non-medical, and when it comes to advertising, I remember this one doc. I’ll just get a billboard. I’ll get a billboard on a highway, right? And he’s paying five, let’s say he is paying $5,000 a month for that.
He doesn’t know. Now, when you ask him, is it working well? I think so. How do you know? And you need numbers. I need numbers. I’m data driven. So if I need, if I’m seeing that I’m getting so many people coming to my website, or so many people are filling out a form, how many of those people are making a phone call? How many of them are booking appointments? How many of them are actually leading to actual revenue? And that’s what AdVital provides. It provides the numbers. Hey, I can see for this particular month that my advertising budget, whether I’m gonna be using Google or Facebook or paying for SEO, I’m knowing where I’m be driving my dollars.
And it’s not that hard to say, this, if I’m making more money doing this, I’m gonna do more of that. Yeah, I’m gonna do more of that. And that’s why. That’s why I’m juxtaposing and for the guy on the billboard he doesn’t know. And another thing too is and this is particularly as being a practice owner, med spa owner, is there’s a lot of these different marketing companies that promise you the moon.
And I think it’s, it’s very happy to see where a physician. Who’s actually is putting in his money where his mouth is because he’s living it, it’s his own business. The marketing, maybe this month is men spas. Two months ago, it was plumbers, five months ago it was realtors, who knows what it is.
And unfortunately there is a kind of a lower barrier to entry to some of these marketing companies. I see ’em, many of them are my friends are in this business. And it’s helpful to have someone who’s actually in the business and understands. It’s yeah, we know how vital marketing is because we’re taking money out of our own pocket to pay for it.
Shitel Patel MD: Absolutely. And again, it’s like super important no where not to spend your money, right? So a lot of people are like, Hey, where should I spend my money? I think sometimes, like you realize that 80% of the money you’re spending is not making you it, right? 20% of your marketing is actually making you 80% of your revenue.
And I think that it applies in knowing that those numbers that you alluded to, Knowing, “Hey, what can you change to change those numbers? Is there some something in the process? It’s not working? Is it how we’re answering the phone calls? Is it how we’re greeting patients when they come in? Is it how we’re delivering the consultations?”
Is it our work? What is it that is like not causing the conversions, but I think that’s what the platform was meant to do, is try to help you iterate and have, key performance indicators for your marketing and for your staff and your process.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: Exactly. So I’ve already talked about one benefit, you know of AdVital in terms of getting the numbers, getting to see where our marketing dollars are going and helping us there, but there’s so much other benefits from it.
What other benefits for a practice owner? Let’s say there’s a plastic surgeon who is on this call, wants to know more about it, a med spa owner is on this call, they wanna know more about it. What’s the best way that you can explain how it works for their practice?
Shitel Patel MD: Yeah. And so I think the, there’s the biggest piece that we realized was that, especially through Covid, was that there was a process that happens in a practice, and when the staff change the process leaves with them.
But for what AdVital does is that the process stays with the practice and as the people come and go, and they may change, the rest of it is plug and play for the people. But the software stays to hold the process for your practice to make sure that you’re profitable, that you’re doing the right things in terms of marketing, that you’re doing the right things for your patients to actually do the next thing.
And then, especially with AI and automations, now, AI and automations are pretty much. The future of what a platform should have for you to actually take them from a prospect all the way to a procedure. And I think that’s the piece that we’re missing in terms of knowing, hey, how many touch points, what is the optimal amount of time that we need to respond to leads?
What, how can we put a software in place to do some of these things for us to support the staff in terms of getting that conversion to happen for the right patients?
I love it. And being in a practice where, like myself, I don’t take any insurance. Many of my listeners who are getting into cash based practices, it’s up to us in terms of the marketing, in terms of the advertising what to do.
And we didn’t learn any of this in medical school. So it’s good to have, a company like yours, who has been there, done that, doing that, I should say. Cuz you’re, you still have an active practice. I still don’t know how you work the two, but that’ll be a call for another day.
So for someone who are, who is interested in it, you mentioned you offer a demo of the software. Where can they go to, to sign up for something like that?
Yeah, so they can go to ad vital md.com and they can also go to our LinkedIn profile, Dr. Shitel Patel, or Dr. Shitel Patel on Instagram as well. We also have some YouTube videos for AdVital. If they just look up the company AdVital on YouTube, they can find them a ton of free information and value that we give in terms of what are the right processes that have in place with or without AdVital. And the whole goal is to have patients, practices, providers, and our staff all win, right? Like the actual product itself is a win for everybody in the entire ecosystem.
I love it. And we’ll have actual links here on the show notes for you to go and find out more. So it’s been a great conversation. I know we talked record every week, but any last thoughts before we end the call today?
No. Thanks a lot, Mike, for having me on the podcast. I super appreciate you, your mission, your vision of what you’re trying to do and help other doctors out there. We’re trying to do is do it in a different way with the software. You’re doing it with messaging. So I appreciate being on your show.
Mike Woo-Ming MD: And thank you guys for listening. A again, being a, an entrepreneur, as I mentioned, have some incredible days and sometimes we have some days that really dry us on there. At the end of the day, it’s all about, plugging yourself each, get yourself closer and closer to your goals and keep moving forward.