The tide is turning. A new emphasis on quality, the need to better serve patients and a commitment to fairness for medical organizations is providing an unprecedented opportunity for physician leaders to restore their influence in the healthcare enterprise.
Since Modern Physician was launched nearly five years ago, its mission has been to track the role of influential physician executives as they struggle to put their imprint on the decisions affecting healthcare delivery and financing. We chronicled the cause of courageous individuals and medical practices as they said no to penny-pinching, bureaucratic HMOs. We watched as physician anger spread from coast to coast.
Now "provider pushback" is reaching a new level. Signs of change are everywhere.
In late June, the Center for Studying Health System Change documented a significant shift in the balance of power from health plans to providers who have achieved the market clout to demand significant payment increases. The center found the shift in momentum in communities from Boston to Seattle.
We have reported how health plans have been forced to take a new tack with medical organizations--not out of the goodness of their hearts but because medical practices have threatened to boycott plans that won't agree to significant payment increases.
Stung by public backlash, managed care organizations have learned that slash-and-burn cost cutting isn't acceptable business strategy. In July, Blue Cross of California announced it will change its incentive program for HMO physicians to provide bonuses based on quality of care and patient satisfaction rather than on cost controls. Corporations are rethinking their approach to paying for medical care for their employees, turning from being lockstep allies of health plan bean-counters to more sympathetic protectors of patients needing care.
As founding editor of the magazine, I have watched with satisfaction as these developments have kicked into high gear. But now I have decided to transition into a new phase of life--retirement. I expect to do some traveling and writing. Wherever I go, I never will forget the many bright, committed physician leaders I have met.
A new editor has been appointed to direct Modern Physician. Joseph Conn has served the magazine for the past year as a technology and quality reporter. Under his leadership, Modern Physician will strive for new heights in coverage of physician-led change. And with a cadre of doctors committed to working for better, more efficient care, the field of medical management can only grow and prosper.