It seems logical to many that business should influence medicine. After all, hospitals and doctors offices are organizations that must employ many of the same business structures that are used by entrepreneurs and corporations. While there are many aspects of efficiency and structure that business principles can bring to the medical field, there are also negative aspects as well. Without a balanced viewpoint on medicine, the field can quickly be viewed as a profit center that must be treated the same as any other business. With that in mind, here are a few ways that business philosophy can hurt the health care industry.
Missing the mission
In theory, medicine is about helping people fight disease and recover from various physical difficulties. Ideally, doctors and nurses would enter the field because they are intrigued by the science and driven by a particular sense of compassion for those that they treat on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a business mentality may cause some individuals to lose sight of the human element that accompanies health care. This is not to say that business is devoid of compassion, but many principles of business center on the concept that profit is the key result of organizational success.
Money over medical care
Another problem with business principles being applied to medicine can be found in the issue of procedures and decisions by doctors. In theory it would seem to make sense that a doctor would make decisions on health care. After all, the doctor is the one who has the medical degree. However, in a managed care situation there can be individuals without medical training who decide whether someone can have certain kinds of treatment. In other words, medicine becomes a money decision. Granted, there may be doctors who prescribe unnecessary treatment and there may be patients who demand care that they do not need. However, when a person is scrutinizing medical decisions through a non-medical lens, it may turn into a situation where unqualified people are usurping the role and authority of the trained medical professional.
Lost in the shuffle
In today’s modern society, medical care is big business. Huge corporations run hospitals and medical networks, and they can provide care to thousands of people around the country. There can certainly be cost-saving measures when organizations grow large and are able to negotiate large-quantity capital expenditures. In addition, large health management organizations may have the financial backing to innovate in certain areas that would be inaccessible to smaller facilities. However, the large corporation can also become a nameless, faceless entity that is difficult for the individual to penetrate. There is a loss of personal care when an institution becomes so immense. When health management companies grow to a certain size, they may be more concerned with shareholders than actual patients.
Understanding the value
The reality of business is that it can be a fairly arrogant field of study. Those that study business may feel that they can walk into any industry, apply their principles, and make the organization run better. Again, there is some truth to this as even hospitals have budgets, personnel, management, marketing, law, and accounting. In addition, some doctors are not great business people, and could probably use a bit of help in the world of commerce. However, medicine is a unique field. There is a certain privilege to being a medical provider, which is why business-minding people who want to work in health care should respect where they are and understand their intellectual limits.