As the face of hospital and health system leadership changes to those who aren't necessarily from a healthcare background, tensions between doctors and business school managers are on the rise nd patients could suffer, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek article.
"It's as if the patient's a pawn in this struggle for influence and control between physicians and nonphysicians," Todd Kislak, a Harvard MBA who worked for nearly a decade as a senior manager in a physician group, told the news outlet.
The financial and business aspect driving the healthcare industry means the ratio of managers and administrators to doctors is about 10 to one, according to the article. And reliable business work in doctors' offices and hospitals is a tempting offer for many recent graduates. The Graduate Management Admissions Council found that one in every 20 business school graduates goes into healthcare.
As professional managers take control of hospitals and health systems, sometimes patient care suffers, according to the article, which cites a 2011 study out of the United Kingdom that found hospitals led by physicians were ranked 25 percent higher than the average hospital. A 2013 study found hospitals in England with more clinicians on the board had lower death rates.
Some organizations have made room on the C-suite for physicians, FierceHealthcare previously reported. The benefit is they bring inside knowledge as to the inner workings of the hospital, as well as clinical expertise. However, they may need help with the business and bureaucratic side of hospital administration. Doctors often "don't have the understanding of economics finance accounting" to administer giant healthcare organizations efficiently, Kislak said.
The only way for the two groups to overcome tensions is to put the patients first and work together to deliver high-quality care. This could become easier as more medical students learn about the business world by taking joint M.D. and MBA programs, according to the article.