The American Medical Association and the Medical Group Management Association announced last week they are developing a strategic alliance.
Each will maintain its separate identity and structure but they will work together in member education and benefits, research and database sharing, membership marketing and lobbying.
"We are in a changing healthcare environment," said James S. Todd, M.D., AMA executive vice president. "Many of the physicians we represent are increasingly turning to the group setting with its physician-administrator team approach to the management of healthcare delivery. It is only natural that, as strong allies, we would seek to pool our strengths."
Frederick J. Wenzel, executive director of the MGMA, said, "Many of our education programs are complementary, our research and survey strategies focus in the same direction, and our consulting services are positioned for strong collaboration. The value added for the members of both groups will be significant."
The AMA has almost 300,000 physician members. The MGMA, based in Denver, represents 6,500 medical group practices, comprising 135,000 physicians and 16,500 administrators.
The groups will plan joint ventures and integrated offerings in the first year of the alliance. Later, they want to build a "joint portfolio" of education programs to benefit all members.
Combined lobbying appears to be a major goal of the alliance. The AMA and the MGMA will participate in each other's legislative forums and will develop common legislative goals. The AMA will enlarge its legislative research efforts to cover group practice issues more thoroughly. One of the first joint lobbying efforts will address the issue of medical liability.
However, the organizations acknowledge they will not be perfectly aligned on all issues. "In those cases we will agree to disagree," Wenzel said.
The announcement was made at the AMA's national leadership conference in Washington.