Thursday, August 23, 2018

Happy 35th Birthday to The Journal of Medical Practice Management

In celebration of The Journal of Medical Practice Management's 35th birthday, I post the visionary "Letter from the Editor," by Marcel Frenkel, MD, MBA, from the inaugural issue of JMPM.  In many ways, this letter could be written today. The mission of JMPM is still the same. Thank you too to our authors and subscribers!
Nancy Collins
President & Publisher

"A Journal for a Time of Change"
from July 1985, Vol. 1, No. 1

It is now commonplace to state that the healthcare system of the United States is in the midst of a major change. This restructuring will greatly alter the substance, character, and style of the practice of medicine. The concept of this publication grew out of the desire to present in one journal a comprehensive approach to these changes, directed specifically to the practicing physician.

Rather than the gradual and evolutional developments which have characterized past progress, a great many organizational changes are underway. Differing systems of medical practice are now in place with competition emerging among these modes. The financing of medical care and the internal structure of the organizations of delivery present a bewildering complexity. Government regulation, fiscal constraints, local factors, and demographic trends all influence the fabric and future of medical practice.

The individual is now confronted with perplexing vistas. In past and simpler times, completion of a training program brought a modicum of assurance of the attainment of professional goals. The practitioner, individually or as member of a grouping, may now find difficulty in gauging the future and his or her new role in the new scheme of medicine. It now becomes imperative to develop an awareness of business methods socioeconomic trends in order to chart a sensible course for one's professional career.

Philosophically, the Journal is not wedded to any theory of healthcare structuring but wishes to provide an authoritative background to help physicians reach important decisions in the conduct of their affairs. This nation is large and varied, its population being diverse and requiring differing answers to its medical needs. During the transition phase that we foresee in the next decade, a variety of patterns of healthcare delivery will likely coexist and provide means for experimentation. This will allow the emergence or retention of practice patterns which are most useful in terms of economy and patient acceptance. Once can visualize the existence of fee for service alongside preferred provider organization (PPO) mechanisms and health maintenance organization (HMO) participation, all in one practice. As a private practitioner as well as an academician, I view the maintenance of a viable private sector of individual practitioners as a valid counterpoint to the emerging corporate groupings. It will provide patients with an alternate system with its own characteristics. Additionally it would allow both the individual and the corporate sectors to react to each other, refine their methods, and evolve in competition to provide better, more equitable, and economical care.

In spite of the rhetoric, it is important to remember that the art and science of healing remain the province of physicians who can also exert considerable influence on the course of events. Therein lies an opportunity. Informed physicians can help mold the future of the healthcare system in general and their own fate in particular, by participating in a dialogue within their own communities and assuming a leadership role. In instances where communications between medical leaders and the business and consumer sectors have been active, physicians have been able to maintain their traditional and pivotal role.

The purpose of “The Journal of Medical Practice Management” is to present, principally, to the medical practitioner, but also to the health administrator and others interested in this extraordinarily large system of healthcare, an overview of events and trends affecting medical practice. While there has been a proliferation of journals related to health policy, practice, and specialty issues, reading such publications with varying emphases requires the expenditure of considerable time and money. Few are directed to the practicing physician in an analytical way. Assembled in this journal, we propose to offer scholarly analyses and practical items to aid in the conduct and progress of medical practices. These will include articles on techniques of office management, computer technology, the marketing of medical services, reviews on developments in legislation, and government regulation. We will follow legal, legislative, and litigation trends affecting practitioners and also survey the constant changes in taxation that bear on practice management. Each issue will review an important facet of healthcare policy and also describe some some the varied modes of healthcare delivery, organizational structure, and the dynamics within healthcare groupings. Continuing article will consider medical education and manpower issues because of their great importance on the supply side of the medical economics equation. While our society cannot be compared with any other political entity, there is much written that we can learn from patterns of health care in nations which have already altered their systems. A regular “Letter from Abroad” will help familiarize the reader with developments throughout the world.

In addition to analyses of important issues, we will offer shorter reviews of current topics, all written by experts in their respective disciplines. These will include:
  • a review of the Washington scene
  • computers in review
  • a taxation update
  • abstracts of important medico legal decisions
  • a survey of the HMO and PPO industry
  • selected healthcare statistics
  • abstracts of the relevant literature.
Other features will profile the structure and financing of individual for-profit healthcare systems, followed by reviews of not-for-profit organizations.

Together with the regular Journal reviews, the Editorial Board hopes the continuing analyses will provide a comprehensive and practical approach to the varied factors which bear on medical practice.

Marcel Frenkel, MD, MBA
Founder and Editor
July, 1985
(800) 933-3711

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