It could be another illusion. Or this time it could be the real thing.
"It" is the opportunity for physicians to control their own destinies and emerge as the acknowledged leaders of a 21st-century healthcare system that's patient-centered, value-driven and quality conscious.
Physicians have been down this road several times before, sometimes stopping short in efforts to put their stamp on healthcare's transformation. This dismal history is cause for concern about current efforts to step up to the leadership challenge. It includes:
Admittedly, much of this tale is ancient history. With a new era of consolidation and change marking the landscape, savvy physician leaders recognize modern medicine must be a partnership among providers, payers and the public. In the hotly debated discussions of managed-care coverage denials and gag clauses, physicians have largely succeeded in framing the discussion as a fight to preserve and protect the best interests of their patients.
Even more important, physician executives are seizing the opportunity to reshape medical organizations to improve the delivery of care. They are forming bold partnerships with other physician groups, healthcare systems and managed-care organizations.
Our premier issue offers examples of organizations that are working to advance the efficiency and quality of their services, organizing to influence medical decisions by managed-care plans, and seeking capital to expand and improve their medical practices. Future issues will focus on such crucial areas as information technology, quality of care and human resources.
Physician leaders are the best hope for America's healthcare system, whether they are system executives, medical staff leaders, physician group administrators or physician entrepreneurs. Their commitment and support are essential in creating organizations that are focused on developing value-driven, patient-centered care.