In the past decade, we have seen diagnostic and hearing aid clinics, eyesight health care facilities, medical centers, and hospitals sprouting about in the biggest metros and smallest suburbs. These health care facilities are not products of government policies and actions. These are products of private investors who decided that health care is the most profitable business for them. Should this be a welcome development in the field of health care? Will it reduce or eradicate the nobility of providing patient care?
Big businessmen and conglomerates are now behind the biggest private medical providers. Whether it’s a hospital or an insurance company, equity firms and big corporations are rallying health care practitioners to grow the profitability of these facilities. After all, even as businessmen pour their money into these hospitals, their future and success lie on the shoulders of medical workers.
Why Are Businessmen Interested?
The pandemic alone is an indication of the importance of health care. Way before the pandemic, businessmen are already interested in investing in medical practices. Health care, after all, is a need. It is a necessity that the government and the general public cannot deny.
For example, practitioners who decide to sell their hearing health practice offer these to private equity firms. The latter is only too happy to gobble up the opportunity. These private equities and venture capital groups offer doctors, dentists, audiologists, ophthalmologists, and chiropractors the power to practice their profession without needing to take care of the business side of things.
They promise to take care of the complex regulatory requirements. They also make sure to update technologies and equipment. All the while, medical practitioners can focus on what they want to do—help and heal their patients. As a consequence, these business groups need these facilities to pay up to 15 times their investment. That’s more than just a simple return on investment.
Critics of This Relationship
But several doctors’ groups are against these kinds of investments and dealings. The Association of Independent Doctors, a nonprofit organization of more than 1,000 doctors, highlighted the need to regulate these investments. It said that non-medical investors don’t have medical licenses to lose when they force physicians to boost their charges. These investors didn’t take the Hippocratic oath. This makes it easy for them to focus on the profit rather than the vocation.
As a result, these hospitals and medical centers are being run like businesses. They look for ways to increase their profits and pay off their investors. The association warned that the public will suffer from this relationship. These medical facilities are going to be relentless with their revenue gains.
Dermatology as a Hotbed
Investors are particularly interested in the field of dermatology. They made more than $14 billion worth of investments in dermatological clinics in 2018. Many dermatologists are against this. They fear that this will create pressure on growing revenues. It will also force some to sacrifice patient care and the quality of services.
Doctors Making Their Own Investments
Many medical practitioners are also seeing their professions as viable investments. They started forming groups in a bid to build as many hospitals, hearing health centers, and eye centers as they can. They pooled their resources and applied for loans. Soon, these groups started running their own health care facilities. Will this impact the investments by private equity firms? That remains to be seen.
The health care industry needs all the necessary investments they can get. The focus, however, should be on providing high-quality patient care. As much as profits are the end goal of every business—health care or otherwise—there need to be some limits when it comes to people’s health.