Would a Single Payer System End the Need for Physician Entrepreneurship?

Would a Single Payer System End the Need for Physician Entrepreneurship?

A new poll finds that a narrow majority of Americans support the idea of a single-payer health care system.

The survey of 1,850 adults, conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that 51 percent favored switching to a government-run health caresystem similar to what currently exists in most other western countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom and France, while 43 percent were opposed.

If a single payer system were to be enacted in the US, some think there would be no further need for doctors to have an entrepreneurial mindset or pursue entrepreneurial activities. I've spent some time talking to physicians in countries where there are national health systems, and here are my observations:

  1. Every government, regardless of their system, faces the same problem: meeting the almost infinite demand for sick care services with limited resources.
  2. Entrepreneurship is not just about creating products that you can sell for a profit. It is about the pursuit of opportunity with the goal of creating user defined value through the deployment of innovation. Creating a company is but one of many ways to do that.
  3. Almost every single payer system has a companion private, insurance supplemented or cash pay system which demands entrepreneurial skills to be successful
  4. A single payer system could unshackle entrepreneurs who now won't quit their jobs for fear of losing employer provided insurance
  5. Device,biopharma and digital therapeutics markets are increasingly global
  6. Money, talent and technology goes where it is treated best, regardless of the sick care system in the country
  7. Mastery, independence and purpose are basic human needs that drive physicians. They don't want to work for the Man any more than anyone else
  8. Lower payment under a single payer system will drive the need for innovation , operational efficiencies and new business models
  9. It would require a shift from medical practice management to medical practice entrepreneurship
  10. Doctors frustrated working in national health systems will seek non-clinical career pathways requiring entrepreneurial knowledge, skllls, abilities and competencies.

Sick care systems around the world, and doctors and other professionals who staff them, will need to innovate their way out of the problems that come with every system, regardless of how they are financed.

International physician entrepreneurship continues to grow around the world, including many countries with single payer systems.

If and when a single payer system comes to the US, physician entrepreneurs will still have a major role in solving the problems it will inevitably create.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org. He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at www.bridgehealth.com and www.cliexa.com and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at www.globalminded.org, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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