Published by Becker’s Hospital Review
What is the Corporate Practice of Medicine?
While many Americans are aware of laws limiting the practice of medicine to licensed medical individuals, many may not have considered the impact these laws have on corporations. Many would agree that an individual who has not attended medical school, graduated with a professional medical degree and passed the required exams to obtain state licensure to practice medicine should not be trusted to provide the public with patient care. But how do these laws apply to corporations? In some cases, corporations are able to improve the quality of care by providing physician groups with significant capital and advancements in technology that might otherwise be out of reach. However, many believe that when corporations entangle themselves in the practice of medicine and are in a position to control physicians’ compensation, they may also negatively influence patient care. Furthermore, the primary focus of any corporation is to achieve and increase profits, which is at odds with an industry that upholds patient care as its highest concern. This very issue was pondered by the American Medical Association at the turn of the nineteenth-century with the development of the Corporate Practice of Medicine Doctrine. Through the Doctrine, the AMA sought to ensure only licensed medical professionals practice medicine and prohibit the commercialization of medicine.