One of the most interesting features of the new healthcare landscape is the evolving relationship between patients and doctors. As we detailed in our first instalment of this special Lead Left series, retail giants are teaming with healthcare behemoths to capture patients wherever they go. That fits well with the 24/7, wanting everything all the time, mentality of the 21st century US consumer.
Doctors, on the other hand, increasingly want to focus on treating patients. As one of our healthcare M&A friends also recently told us, fewer physicians want to be entrepreneurs. Young medical graduates tend to be more idealistic, more focused on patient care and treatment, and less interested in the business side of their practices.
This trend favors private equity firms. The goal of many sponsor-backed roll-ups of physician practice organizations is to create larger, more corporate-style practices. There the docs can be employees, not managers, and not worry about the back office.
Indeed, as more women enter the medical profession, flexibility is key. Roughly half of all medical students are women. This will eventually rebalance their share of practicing physicians (currently about 35%). Women are concerned about lifestyle, flexible hours, and benefits – something the growth of PPOs can address.
Healthcare is a people business.