The world of business and medicine are becoming more interconnected. It is easy to get so caught up in the art of medicine that we forget the business aspect of it. A study published on the 2009 issue of Academic Medicine found that “a large majority of graduating U.S. medical students from 2003 to 2007 were satisfied with medical school training in the domains of clinical decision making and clinical care. In stark contrast, fewer than half the students felt that appropriate instructional time was devoted to the practice of medicine, especially the component of medical economics.” The same study also revealed that only sixteen percent of med school graduates felt that they were prepared to handle the business side of their medical career. As detailed in an article by Thomas H. Lee, MD, simply holding yourself to high personal standards used to be enough to ensure quality. Today, collaboration with different practitioners and institutions has become the norm along with the focus on cost minimization, patient satisfaction and staff development. The landscape has also grown to be dramatically more competitive with doctors and hospitals adopting more intricate business models to improve internal operations and to make themselves the patients’ first choice when it comes to medical care.
Mr. Kevin Williams, Founder and Managing Director of Claim Resolutions, has observed that “Doctors want to care for their patients without the distractions of running a business.” He also added that “the business side of the practice is preventing doctors form serving patients the way they would like to.” The environment is always presenting new business challenges. In order to prevent unnecessary holding costs or over-stock inventory, business owners have to constantly evaluate re-order strategies when supply, demand and costs become unpredictable. The same is true for doctors choosing which products to sell out of their clinics and how much they need to order at any given time. Marketers have to pay close attention to consumer behavior in order for them to understand their potential customers’ needs and wants, and tailor their product offering to the target market. Nowadays, medical practitioners have to put more emphasis on making sure their patients are adequately satisfied in order for them to both come back if ever the need arises, and to refer their friends and family to the same clinic. Companies create strategic partnerships with other firms that enable them to get quality supplies, outsource certain processes or to receive orders. Similar to how physicians create informal networks with their peers where they refer patients to one another, and give recommendations on products that work well for their patients. Hospitals as institutions also refer patients to different specialists in other hospitals. Being able to manage internal operations, understand patients’ needs, and building good relationships with other practitioners and institutions are skills that are essential now more than ever.
The practice of medicine and the administration of medical institutions without integrating business theory is less likely to succeed in today’s environment. In this evolving market, the art and practice of medicine must keep up.