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The Power of “ME Inc” for Physicians

Embracing a New Competitive Practice Culture

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™


There are more than 900,000 physicians in the United States. Yet, the brutal supply/demand/demographic calculus of the matter is that there are just too many aging patients chasing too few doctors. Compensation and reimbursement is plummeting as Uncle Sam becomes the payer-of-choice for more than 52% of us. And, the government as payer will likely increase with the Obama Administration. So, going forward, it is not difficult to imagine the following four rules for a new-wave competitive medical care culture for all physicians.

[A] Rule No. 1

Forget about large office suites, surgery centers, fancy equipment and the bricks and mortar that comprised traditional medical practices. One doctor with a great idea, good bedside manner or competitive advantage, can outfox a slew of CPAs, while still serving the public and making money. It’s a unit-of-one healthcare economy where “ME Inc.”, is the standard and physicians must maneuver for advantages that boost their standing and credibility among patients and payers. Examples include patient satisfaction surveys, the rise of evidence-based medicine; outcomes research analysis, concierge medicine, direct reimbursement payment plans, and economic credentialing; etc.

 [B] Rule No. 2

Challenge conventional wisdom, think outside the traditional payer box, recapture your dreams and ambitions, disregard conventional gurus and work harder – and smarter – than you have ever worked before. Remember the old saying, “if everyone is thinking alike, then nobody is thinking”. Do insurance panel members think rationally or react irrationally?

However, you should realize the power of networking, vertical integration and the establishment of virtual medical practices, which come together to treat a patient, and then disband when a successful outcome achieved. Job security in this structure is achieved with successful outcomes, and perhaps not necessarily a degree in the near future. Medical futurists even presume the establishment of virtual medical schools and hospitals, where students and doctors learn and practice their art on cyber-entities that look and feel like real patients, but are generated electronically through the wonders of virtual reality units.



[C] Rule No 3

Differentiate yourself among your medical peers. Do or learn something new and unknown by your competitors. Market your accomplishments and let the world know. Be a non-conformist. The conformity of health insurance plans are an operational standard and a straitjacket on creativity. Doctors should create and innovate, not blindly follow entrenched medical society leaders into oblivion. Seek, and practice, health 2.0 collaboration with all stakeholders.

[D] Rule No 4

Realize that the present situation is not necessarily the future. Attempt to see the future and discern your place in it. Master the art of the quick change and fast but informed decision making. Do what you love, disregard what you don’t, and let the fates have their way with you. Then, decide for yourself if health plans adhere to any of the above rules?

AssessmentKung Fu

Regardless of the future de facto business model of the learned profession of medicine, current practice models are no longer the structure of choice. Rather, a more laissez-faire and highly competitive business model should be pursuedPhysicians have been slow to accept this philosophy.  Remember, as a physician, if you merely want a static job with promised security, pledged retirement benefits, limited goals and structured regulations; join a health plan panel and become their laborer.

However, if you desire more, such as the possibility of a dynamic career, the unlimited security of your brainpower, non-defined retirement contributions, infinite potential with rules you can create along the way; incorporate the power of ME, Inc., in everything you do. Remain a competitive professional and be a physician ... Get fly! 


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Supply and Demand in Medical Care

The Imperfect Competitive Medical Marketplace

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™biz-book1 

The issue is not how to fill or reuse empty beds. In this changing environment, hospitals and health systems must focus on streamlining and simplifying operational processes, facilitating case management, promoting the least costly setting for care delivery, and optimizing resource sharing among departments. When hospitals have addressed these issues, then solutions to the “bed problem” will be obvious.

-Cynthia Hayward, 1996

How and why the current healthcare imbroglio happened is very complex, but here is a brief synopsis of current supply-demand inequalities.

A Definition of Medical Care 

Medical care is defined as the finite examination and treatment of patients, for monetary compensation. Among other reasons, changes in patient demand may occur as a result of the absence or presence of health insurance plans or the encouragement of additional treatments by profit maximizing providers. 

Health Economics 101 

Changes in supply occur as a result of physician shortages or surpluses and a host of other factors. Until recently, a glut of physicians has caused them to become “price takers,” selling a homogenous service.

How else could aggregate HMO fee schedules drop to some percentage below prevailing Medicare or Medicaid rates in some instances? Or, how else could otherwise qualified physicians be de-selected from managed healthcare plans because of large (successful equates with expensive) practices? 

The Supply-Demand Curve 

A graphical representation of this economic relationship produces the classic downward sloping demand curve and the upward sloping supply curve. At some point in time however, the treatment plan is completed, the patient is satisfied, and additional services are not needed. This is known as market equilibrium.  

When an industry becomes more competitive – either by too much supply or too little demand – market equilibrium fees tend to become elastic while patient volume becomes very sensitive to even small changes in price. This may be where we have arrived, right now relative to medical price elasticity. 

Medical Price Elasticity 

In a managed care environment, every covered service has a low price ceiling and every “non-covered” service has its own price elasticity.   

Traditionally, medical services were inelastic to price changes and considered a growth industry since a fee increase would also increase revenues.  Now, the marketplace has become resistant to pricing pressure by physician oversupply and managed care.  

Generally, a pricing coefficient greater than one is considered elastic, while a coefficient less than one is inelastic.

Interestingly, exact unity prevails when elasticity of supply is exactly equal to one.  

In the golden days of medicine, the price elasticity of medical care was greater than 1, now it is about .35 and diminishing 

Meaning to Doctors 

Financially, all this means that many doctors are “taking what they’re given (by HMOs, CMS, etc), because they’re working for a living”.   

Younger doctors under 40 are especially inclined to work for less since they have had little exposure to fee-for-service compensation. Older doctors are retiring. Middle-Agers are frustrated. 

Additionally, physicians have an increasingly smaller share of the medical marketplace because of so-called medical care extenders, such as PAs and nurse practitioner’s.

Some health plans have even done away with many true allied healthcare professionals, such as RN’s or CRNAs, in favor of trained, not educated, and less costly technicians.  


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Despite the financial impact of managed care on doctors, patients may also be hurt physically as the economic cost of medical re-intervention is often much more than the cost of the proposed initial professional care.  

For example, a study by Deloitte & Touche a few years ago, reported employee satisfaction was decreasing about 10 percent per year, as healthcare coverage represented a fiscal and economic time bomb on corporate books. 

How would you comment on the above in light of the IOM on medical errors and mistakes, findings a few years back?

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