Managing Medical Practice has never been the subject of learning in medical education system. This has lead to lack of awareness among the medical practitioners regarding the philosophy and methodology of running a medical practice with formal skills and planning.

 Typically, practicing medicine involves giving a diagnosis and prescribing a treatment for medical condition1 but the health care reforms are going to change the way medical practice is done today.

Doctors face lot of challenges in the current corporatized healthcare environment. This can be related to innovation in technology, upcoming corporate hospitals, changing patient behavior or current medical practices.

Profitable and satisfying practice is becoming complex, unpredictable and stressful.2

 Time has changed and the benefits offered by the traditional medical practice have become less effective in today’s complex environment.

There are various factors that have influence on medical practice:3

  1. Practice growth and new entrants: Experience is one of the most important barriers to entry. This is one of the reasons why many new entrants find it difficult to start their own practice.
  2. Specialized skills and technology: This is to enhance the opportunity of a medical professional to do well in their practice.
  3. Patient load: Majority of providers treat more patients per day, spending less time on the clinical diagnosis of each patient. More dependence is on referrals and diagnostic tests. This has severe cost and quality implications.
  4. Referrals: Fifty percent of private practitioners refer patients to other specialists and in 1/3rd of cases this is quite frequent.
  5. Payment system: There is no specific basis to decide on the payment structure. It is mainly based on specific service or procedure and the time spent by the doctor with the patient. 

There are various other factors like cost of establishment, nursing and paramedical staff, maintenance etc. which has an impact on the successful running of the medical practice.

Besides the above, there is decreasing loyalty among the patients regarding once considered to be the noble medical profession. The major cause of concern here is medical negligence and medical malpractice, which is gradually eroding the trust factor between the doctor-patient relationships.

Certain such practices as enumerated in a study3 are: Fee splitting practices, over prescription of drugs and diagnostics, inadequate information given to the patients, lack of accessibility during emergencies.

More effective mechanisms through awareness, education and dissemination of information are required to address the associated problems and give new shape to the medical practice.

Today, to STAND OUT in practice, a medical professional would need to:

  1. Keep patients satisfied
  2. Accelerate reputation
  3. Build patient loyalty
  4. Be liked and trusted, and
  5. Develop a professional image

References

  1.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_practice
  2. Shelly Simon.”Beyond Practice Management”: 2006.
  3. Ramesh Bhat. “Characteristics of private medical practice in India: A provider perspective”. Health Policy and Planning. 1999; 14(1): 26-37.