The American Medical Association has embraced unionized medicine based on the premise that doctors will improve the quality of healthcare through collective bargaining.
Doctors don't need to form a union to improve healthcare quality. They need to recognize the value of multidisciplinary groups and integrated service organizations and seize the opportunity to form, join and practice in them. Such settings are structured to encourage patient safety and systems improvement. The physicians collaborate with one another and with their patients to manage increasingly complex and expensive healthcare choices. Collaborative partnerships between physicians and health plans encourage appropriate treatments, reduce the use of unnecessary medications and procedures, and eliminate clinical errors and incorrect dispensation of prescriptions.
The problem in healthcare today is quality, not managed care. In many managed-care settings where I have worked, physicians have improved quality and enhanced their careers by forming partnerships with health plans. These organizations achieve high performance because of physician participation at all levels.
In a medical environment squeezed by complex regulations and market-driven pressures, physician unions are no answer. One partial but real solution rests with the promotion of joint physician-health plan accountability to ensure appropriate and affordable care.
Medical directors chairman
Alliance of Community Health Plans