Meet the new doctor’s office: the hospital

Larry Ribstein —  8 November 2010

The WSJ reports that doctors increasingly working for hospitals, which are becoming “consolidated health-care providers,” rather than for themselves.  Doctors don’t want to have the burdens of ownership, and hospitals want to lock in customers for their expensive facilities. 

While doctors are reconfiguring into medical technology intermediaries, lawyers are clinging to their age-old model of one lawyer advising one client.  Technology is less important to lawyers than to doctors, but scale economies, intellectual property and other business considerations are common to both fields.  How long until lawyers follow doctors into the 21st century business world?

Larry Ribstein


Professor of Law, University of Illinois College of Law

4 responses to Meet the new doctor’s office: the hospital


    Why isn’t this more like a bunch of solo practitioners starting to move towards a big law model complete with leverage (residents)?


    A very long time, one hopes.

    save_the_rustbelt 8 November 2010 at 12:03 pm

    The more proper term is “integrated delivery systems.”

    The implication here is some radical change in the physician–patient relationship, but although that is largely true with hospitalists, most of the physicians are still organized into group practices and patients still see a particular physician for primary care and advanced procedures.


    I am very familiar with this issue. My brother is a physician and he is negotiating a buyout of his practice with his hospital. My impression is that the structure is driven in many ways by regulatory considerations and the relationship between the profession and medicare. Lawyers don’t want to go there.