Neo-Hippocratic healthcare policies: professional or industrial healthcare delivery? A choice for doctors, patients, and their organisations

Jean-Pierre Unger, Ingrid Morales, Pierre De Paepe, Michel Roland

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    BackgroundEthical medical practice requires managing health services to promote professionalism and secure accessibility to care. Commercially financed and industrially managed services strain the physicians' clinical autonomy and ethics because the industry's profitability depends on commercial, clinical standardisation. Private insurance companies also reduce access to care whilst fragmenting and segmenting health systems. Against this background, given the powerful, symbolic significance of their common voice, physicians' and patients' organisations could effectively leverage together political parties and employers' organisations to promote policies favouring access to professional care.Main textTo provide a foundation for negotiations between physicians' and patients' organisations, we propose policy principles derived from an analysis of rights-holders and duty-bearers' stakes, i.e., patients, physicians and health professionals, and taxpayers. Their concerns are scrutinised from the standpoints of public health and right to health. Illustrated with post-WWII European policies, these principles are formulated as inputs for tentative action-research. The paper also identifies potential stumbling blocks for collective doctor/patient negotiations based on the authors' personal experience.The patients' concerns are care accessibility, quality, and price. Those of physicians and other professionals are problem-solving capacity, autonomy, intellectual progress, ethics, work environment, and revenue. The majority of taxpayers have an interest in taxes being progressive and public spending on health regressive. Mutual aid associations tend to under-estimate the physician's role in delivering care. Physicians' organisations often disregard the mission of financing care and its impact on healthcare quality.ConclusionThe proposed physicians-patients' alliance could promote policies in tune with professional ethics, prevent European policies' putting industrial concerns above suffering and death, bar care financing from the ambit of international trade treaties, and foster international cooperation policies consistent with the principles that inspire the design of healthcare policies at home and so reduce international migration. To be credible partners in this alliance, physicians' associations should promote a public health culture amongst their members and a team culture in healthcare services. To promote a universal health system, patients' organisations should strive to represent universal health interests rather than those of patients with specific diseases, ethnic groups, or social classes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1067
    JournalBMC Health Services Research
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • Public services
    • Quality of health care
    • Healthcare accessibility
    • Non-profit health organisations
    • Medical professionalism
    • Health policy
    • Health systems
    • MODEL
    • US


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