There has always been a certain aura around the provision of medical care. While a doctor offers services in exchange for payment, the doctor-patient relationship goes deeper than a simple transaction. Physicians take on responsibility for people when they are sick and vulnerable.
For this reason, health care historically avoided the commoditization that characterizes other industries. The Wal-Marts of the world crowded out local mom-and-pop shops in retail. Fast-food giants revolutionized the way we eat. The same can be said for media, manufacturing and even farming. The rationale is that consolidation leads to economies of scale that decrease costs and standardize quality for the consumer.
Yet medicine was different. As the business of health care grew more complex in the mid- to late 20th century, doctors fought to maintain their independence as solo practitioners. The focus remained on customized care.
That’s now changing.
Akhilesh Pathipati, sacbee.com