Back in the day...1847 that is, the AMA decided to prohibit corporations from practicing or influencing the practice of medicine with what became known as the Corporate Practice of Medicine Doctrine. The formation of Doctrine was to protect the AMA from losing control of patients, methods of treatment and diagnosis, patient relationships and, oh yeah...income. The Doctrine was put in place based on three emerging trends: 1. businesses hiring physicians to provide care for employees, 2. general corporations that hired physician staff to provide services to the general public and 3. the creation of hospitals by public agencies and private philanthropists. A really outstanding overview of the Doctrine is here.
Now read this: AMA to seek probe of U.S. retail health clinics
The AMA wants state and federal agencies to investigate retail health clinics like MinuteClinic based on their fear that these clinics are operating with a conflict of interest (read: making money).
It seems to me that we're back in 1847 again. We have a new disruptive innovation that consumers are attracted to (Of the 5% of 2,441 U.S. adults polled who said they have used the clinics (WSJ Poll from March 07) (I've heard this number is now 11%)) and are satisfied with: A study($) titled Retail Clinics: Primary Care Evolution or Revolution? released in April 2007 by healthcare researchers Market Strategies,
Inc. documents consumer acceptance of—and in some
cases reliance on—these programs for the delivery of primary care. The director of the study stated that "We were somewhat shocked to find that 12 percent of households with a primary care physician said that minute clinics replaced those physicians for routine care”.
All in all there is very good evidence that these clinics are providing a valuable, quality service to consumers. And the AMA is now on high alert that this new healthcare delivery model could impact their business. It's not surprising that they've been roused. It was only a matter of time and momentum. The questions is whether or not we will see a "New and Improved" Corporate Practice of Medicine Doctrine that will attempt to smother this innovation.
My bet is not. The world is a different place today with highly connected and motivated consumers. That kind of scenario didn't exist in 1847. Today it's about the consumer. If the medical establishment doesn't change to accommodate the consumer, the consumer will go to and demand services that do. In this case it is the miniclinic.