Medicine is both a business and a profession, with the business aspect being the provision of health care services for a fee and the professional aspect being the delivery of medical care for the patient’s benefit.
The business of medicine refers to the broader economic and political systems that shape the health care industry, such as government policies, insurance regulations, and the influence of pharmaceutical companies and other industry stakeholders.
The terms “patient” and “customer” or “client” are often used interchangeably in the context of health care, but they have different meanings.
A patient is someone who receives medical treatment or care for an illness or injury.
A customer or client, on the other hand, is someone who buys a product or service.
A customer or client knows and understands what he wants and needs and will pay for what he wants.
On the other hand, patients may not be as informed as their doctor about what they have and need.
They may want something that is not in their best interest, or that may not be the most appropriate treatment for their condition.
The physician has a fiduciary duty to act in the patient’s best interest and provide the best possible care, even if it may not align with the patient’s immediate wishes.
Traditional models of health care have viewed patients primarily as passive recipients of medical care, with little control over their treatment or the health care system as a whole. This was the paternalistic model.
In recent years, however, there has been a strong shift to a more patient-centered approach, in which patients are seen as active participants in their own care and are given more control over their treatment options. Gone is parental control. And it is a good thing.
With the shift to a more consumer-oriented health care system, patients are increasingly seen as customers or clients.
This has led to an emphasis on customer service and patient satisfaction and an increased focus on marketing and branding within the health care industry.
While the business aspect of medicine can bring benefits such as improved patient experience, access to care, and increased innovation, it also raises ethical concerns, such as balancing profit with patient welfare and avoiding conflicts of interest among health care providers.
In addition, with a focus on customer satisfaction, it is important to ensure that the needs of patients are not overshadowed by market forces.
Overall, medicine is both a business and a profession, and the two are closely intertwined.
However, it’s important to ensure that the business of medicine does not interfere with the primary goal of providing quality patient care and that the terms “patient” and “customer” or “client” are used appropriately.
The physician has a fiduciary duty to act in the patient’s best interest; the businessperson does not.
Jean Paul Brutus is a hand surgeon.