Moving Medicine from a Guild to an Enterprise: 2012 MMS Oration

Physicians are watching their profession rapidly transform from the guild-oriented practice of medicine to a an enterprise-oriented  industry one might call ”Big Med,” said H. Eugene Lindsey, M.D., president and CEO of Atrius Health.

“One could say that we are now a guild under siege,” said Dr. Lindsey, who delivered the 2013 MMS Annual Oration, titled “Working Together: From Guild to Enterprise” on Friday as part of the Society’s two-day long Interim Meeting.

H. Eugene Lindsey, M.D., president and CEO of Atrius Health

Atrius has been preparing itself for accountable care and global payments for many years, Lindsey said, but is still struggling to solve the problems plaguing virtually all modern health care organizations:  increasing accountability, reducing costs and practice variations, eliminating waste  and maintaining physician satisfaction levels.

“We have not been able to progress as far or as fast as we hoped,” he said.  Atrius and other organizations will have to innovate quickly to stay ahead of the consequences of expected cuts in reimbursement rates and prevent loss of care quality, he said.

Another crucial objective is to improve physician happiness through improved management performance and standardization of work so that physicians have more time for patient care and critical thinking work.  Among the challenges his organization will face is a predicted shortage of PCPs.  By 2025, more than 130,000 physicians nationwide – more than half of them PCPs – are expected to complete retirement.

“Improving the experience of practice remains a great challenge,” said Lindsey. “We must move guild thinking into a new environment.”

                                                  – Erica Noonan

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