Michigan Legal Dispute Shows Plight of Independent Medical Practices
In the state of Michigan, MRI diagnostic centers, urgent care clinics and cosmetic medical spas are being bought and operated by businesspeople who have no medical credentials, and are attracted to clinic ownership because of the money that can be made from Medicare, Medicaid and commercial payers.
But Michigan’s medical community is pushing back. The state’s Radiology Society and other groups have filed a lawsuit that says these businesspeople are violating state laws that require medical facilities to be owned and operated by either physicians, nonprofit hospitals or nursing homes.
The case — which will affect dozens of medical clinics in that state — is now with the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Why This Case is Troubling
The fact that entrepreneurs with no medical background want to buy and run medical practices shows that healthcare in America today centers around insurers and payers, rather than doctors and patients.
If the business case for acquiring and running a medical practice is all about reimbursement from the government and other payers, it shows that reimbursement has become a more important factor than the delivery of quality care.
It also shows that independent physicians do not have the tools themselves to run their clinics like viable businesses, and so must entertain offers to sell their practices to for-profit enterprises.
Why Physicians Should Run Practices
The law in Michigan states that physicians or hospitals should operate stand-alone medical centers and clinics, as only medical professionals will really ensure quality control and the best patient outcomes.
This is a good law.
Healthcare should be delivered according to what is best for the patient, and what will achieve the best health outcomes. If for-profit businesses operate clinics with an eye on insurance reimbursement, there will be less guarantee for patients that they are being offered the best treatment plan for their medical conditions.
The independent doctors who started those clinics in the first place are the people who have the patients’ best interest at the center of all their decision-making.
How These Physicians Can Stay in Business
It is obvious that doctors will deliver better care than for-profit businesses will do. What is less obvious is how these independent physicians will be able to stay in business as independent operators, instead of selling their practices to larger health networks or for-profit businesses.
Michigan is not the only state where the independent medical practitioner is facing this dilemma. This is the case in every state in the country.
Independent doctors simply lack the tools and the resources that large health networks have to deal with the tremendous cost and administrative hurdles of staying in compliance with state and federal laws, maintaining certifications and dealing with countless other costs and burdens.
What these doctors need is technology that will put them on an equal footing with managed care facilities. They need management systems that will remove cost and administrative hassle, so that they can run like stable, viable businesses. This way, they will not be tempted to sell their practices.
Too many smaller medical practices have been relying on the latest software solutions to streamline operations and cut costs, and these solutions have been falling short.
What the independent doctor needs is a hands-on system that connects them to other physicians, larger health networks and the government, and one that combines human expertise with advanced technology.
If the State of Michigan — and the rest of the country — wants to see doctors in charge of independent medical practices instead of for-profit businesses, then it’s time to offer those doctors the tools they need to stay in business.
Read more stories by Dr. Adam Tabriz here.