As North America continues a multi-year struggle with an extended economic downturn, and tight budgets have become the new normal, this is impacting the provision of healthcare as well. The resources to diagnose, treat and take care of patients are becoming scarce. In consequence, this is seen as a business opportunity by some, helping develop a relatively new field (at least in Canada), which is the business of medicine.
I understand the need for this new field in order to improve the well being of our patients, but what I am currently seeing is that this model is being abused in many occasions to increase the income of business people, irregardless of the outcome and the quality of patient care.
In other words many medical businesses are pushing hard to increase their profit by doing activities such as: reducing the time to evaluate a patient to a number that is irealistic and makes impossible to truly deal with sick human beings, pushing techniques or treatments that might be harmful to patients, etc.
What may pass for cost-effective methods in providing healthcare on paper, and in turn providing healthy profits, may in fact have a negative impact on patient care in the real world, especially when we consider long-term outcomes on an individual and societal basis.
Adolfo Cotter, MD