At the end of each day during my primary care rotation, my preceptor and I sat together and reviewed patient charts. Simon Craig, MD, built his internal medicine practice from the ground up and is a pillar of the Connecticut community he has served for more than two decades. He is a physician, a clinician and a scientist. While he manages the day-to-day operations of his practice, he avidly denies being a businessman.
On one occasion, we were having a deep discussion about PA education during which I made a comment that business ideology should be taught as part of medical education. The look from his eyes went through me like daggers. What resulted was a fiery, passionate and off-the-cuff dissertation about how business and medicine ought to be entirely separated. I vehemently argued back. Prior to entering PA school, I was trained at the leading institution for entrepreneurship education, and started and managed several companies. I know business, and I recognize that our medical system would be stronger if healthcare providers knew it too.
Business is not evil. Of course, there are some aspects of business that are cutthroat. There are individuals looking to make a quick buck at the expense of others. Some companies operate with questionable moral grounding and others with seemingly no meaningful purpose at all. However, it would be irresponsible to deny that similar behaviors can exist in medicine.
To me, harnessing business values means thinking creatively to craft solutions for everyday problems. It is about delivering outstanding service while providing a scientific framework for doing so. It begs for efficiency and waste reduction. Perhaps, above all in our current healthcare climate, a good medical “business” is one that manages its costs — something we have profoundly failed at in healthcare.
In reflecting on my business education, there are countless examples of lessons learned which apply to the world of medicine: