U.S. physicians push to regain control of how they practice medicine

The recent and historical strike among junior doctors in England may seem unlikely to occur in the United States, but American doctors are waging battles of their own over issues that are fundamentally similar, according to an article from Fortune.

While U.K. doctors walked off the job earlier this month over government demands to increase work schedules for less pay, many U.S. physicians have also expressed frustration over various constraints in the way they practice medicine, according to the article. In particular, as the United States strives to catch up to other countries in terms of outcomes and cost control, the resulting dynamic has put physicians less in command of their own practices and more likely to become employees of large organizations and health systems.

"U.S. healthcare systems have been consolidating and gobbling up primary doctor practices, meaning that more care is being dispensed by doctors working at--and for--hospitals," Fortune noted. "Reporting to a workplace hierarchy is very different for doctors who traditionally have operated their own practices and acted as their own bosses."

To bolster their defenses against the increasing pressure to do more with less, some physicians have advocated the idea of a union. In fact, when a healthcare system in Oregon sought to outsource its hospitalists, the physicians employed in those roles did opt to unionize to resist the move, FiercePracticeManagement reported previously. The move worked, in the sense that the system abandoned its outsourcing plan, but the continuing negotiations bring into sharp relief the struggle for efficiency.

The current president of the American Medical Association, Steven J. Stack, M.D., has also spoken out against the many disruptions the current U.S. healthcare system presents to the doctor-patient relationship, FiercePracticeManagement reported. "There are so many people who have intruded between the patient and the doctor," Stack said, pointing to government regulation and hospital micromanagement that give doctors marching orders and then measure their success by "metrics that may not even be germane to what [they're] doing."

To learn more:
- read the article