A senior ophthalmologist with an EMBA from Georgia State University advises young doctors on the business of medicine.
In this slim, to-the-point volume, Harbin (Waking up Blind, 2009) seeks to fill in the yawning gaps in medical education. Doctors starting out may be well-trained in medicine, he asserts, but typically they’re woefully unprepared for the challenging, unavoidable business aspects of the profession. By his own account, Harbin goes for the big picture and leaves the details for his target audience to work out for themselves. He provides a solid framework for the kinds of choices and business-minded decisions doctors will face not only early in their careers but later on as well. Knowledge of these business aspects, he argues, makes for better, more personally fulfilled doctors, which benefits their patients, too. “This material is just as important as medical knowledge and should be taught at some point during medical training,” Harbin says. Advice includes how to perform due diligence in choosing the right type of practice, how to spot red flags and negotiate contracts, and reasons to check with the spouse before committing to a particular practice or geographic location. Following that are forays into insurance, office efficiency, personal and business finance, and how to deal with troublemaking doctors in a group practice. Also included is counsel on matters such as how to run a good meeting; the key, he says, is a firm time limit. Though well-organized, easy to read and rich in sage advice, the book suffers from a few gaps. A brief mention of the Internet fails to capture the immense changes in the doctor-patient relationship now that medical information can be accessed online; similarly, the relationship between doctors and drug makers gets a light once-over. Medicare, Medicaid and the uninsured go unexplored, and there appears to be little information about the impact of Obamacare, even though it will most certainly alter the industry. Notably, the chapter on ethics doesn’t fill two pages.
A limited but valuable resource for new and experienced doctors interested in the business side of medicine.