Physicians who aren’t good at business won’t survive

A business degree should be a pre-requisite for medical school.

Extreme? Perhaps, but doctors who have some business acumen will have the best chance to thrive in the medical landscape after health reform.

Marketing and the art of negotiation will soon play just as important a role as the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

In a recent Washington Post article, Michael R. Yochelson, associate medical director of the neurological program at National Rehabilitation Hospital, said that it doesn’t matter whether the physician as an interested in business or not, saying, “in order to survive, this knowledge will be critical.”

Independent physicians need to learn how to successfully negotiate with both hospitals and large insurance carriers. Practices will have to astutely market themselves to compete for patients.

Business has influenced American medicine like nowhere else in the world. This is one reason why more doctors are joining large hospital practices and taking a salary — so they don’t have to worry about these non-clinical issues.

Physicians who can’t accept this simply won’t survive. As Dr. Yochelson says, “The reality is if you don’t understand business practices, you can’t survive in today’s market — and if you don’t survive, you won’t do anyone any good. You will no longer be practicing medicine and providing the much-needed care to the patient that you went to medical school to treat.”