In 2013 the medical industry SWOT (Strength Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis listed as a Strength; “Efficient structural re-organization: mergers and consolidations between hospitals and other healthcare providers are paying off by lowering costs and increasing the quality and efficiency of care”. More independent physicians will join big hospital system that will reduce the cost of doing business for the hospital. The industry has also listed as an Opportunity; mergers and consolidations between hospitals and other healthcare providers. The hospital industry is coming after independent physicians.
A SWOT Analysis is a study by an organization to identify its internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as its external opportunities and threats. To be clear, independent physicians merging with hospitals is a growth potential for the hospital industry business model. This same industry has determined that there are greater opportunities for their profitability if they put independent physicians out of business. This SWOT Analysis is from 2013; there is no conspiracy. It is not “the government,” independent physicians are being catabolized from the inside.
Independent physicians are those involved in private practice. A 2014 survey by The Physicians Foundation, an advocacy group, found that 53% of physicians were hospital or medical group employees compared to 44% in 2012 and 38% in 2008. Another study found that only 17% of today’s physicians are in private practice compared to 54% in 1980.
The solution for some is to join Independent physician association (IPA). Physicians have begun to realize their passion for practicing medicine may be pure, but the industry is changing. I believe physicians become doctors because they want to make a difference. There is nothing wrong with physicians in private practices wanting to maintain their independent practice. Owning one’s own business is the American dream.
However, medicine in this country is a commodity. Independent physicians are coming face to face with this fact. It’s a fact of life many blue collar workers began to discover decades ago. When factory jobs began to move offshore and earning a livable wage disappeared. The employee doctor is here to stay. The day of high earnings and golfing on Tuesday are a relic of the past.
IPA’s are the blue collar unions of the past. I believe they can have a positive effect on customer care, especially if physicians can hold onto their passion for medicine. IPA’s must be mindful of the history of unions and their current treatment. Because when the medical industry begins using buzz words like efficiencies, increase scales of profitability and market expansion, they are coming after you.