Dr. Kerry Fierstein on Changes in the Healthcare Industry
by Tim Healy
When was the last time you visited your doctor’s office? Have you noticed a change in service over the last 5-10 years? Even you don’t think things have changed, there are few industries that have seen as many changes as the healthcare industry. My guest today has seen these changes in practice, and she has seen how they impact patients and physicians alike.
My guest today is Dr. Kerry Fierstein, CEO of Allied Physicians Group and Adjuvant.Health. She has been a practicing pediatrician for more than 30 years, and today also works to advocate for physician-owned pediatric practices. She is here to talk about some of the challenges and changes facing the healthcare industry.
Starting Allied Physicians
Dr. Kerry Fierstein has been a practicing pediatrician for more than 30 years. Listen at 5:04 as she discusses the start of Allied Physicians Group. Around 10 years ago, she and her partners in private practice realized that they needed to align themselves with a larger group. However, as she explains, partnering with a hospital or other multi-specialty group can lead to pediatricians losing their voice.
Allied Physicians Group is unique in that it is a physician-owned organization. Their executives can negotiate with insurance collectively, making it easier for physicians to focus on treating patients.
Changing Times in Medicine
Starting at 8:55, Dr. Fierstein speaks about how changes in the medical industry have led to physicians needing to take more of a business mindset. She explains how in the three decades she has been a practicing physician, the biggest change she has seen is how insurance companies do business. Gone are the days where patients dealt directly with the companies. Now, the healthcare office is the collections agency, requiring practice owners to consider more than just how they care for patients.
Making Decisions as a Physician
For most of us, going to the doctor has always been the same. At 20:45, Dr. Fierstein talks about how the changes that have taken place in the industry have impacted how physicians treat patients. A benefit of Allied Physicians Group is that doctors are not being dictated to in regards to where they can send patients to. Healthcare professionals do not feel pressure to refer their patients within the organization. They do not have to wait for the state or insurance companies to set mandates – physicians are free to choose what makes sense for their patients.
CEO during the Unknown
While it seemed like life changed overnight for all of us in March of 2020, for the medical industry, the threat had been looming. Listen at 35:00 as Dr. Fierstein discusses the first steps she took. Like other healthcare workers, pediatricians were trying to prepare for an influx of patients. Instead, patients stopped coming in. Board advisors were meeting each day to look at data to give partners ways to hit their target while still keeping patients safe.
Leading through COVID-19
However, no industry has been as hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as the healthcare industry has. At 43:25, Dr. Fierstein speaks about how she as a leader was able to help her staff through some of the most challenging moments of the pandemic. Allied Physicians Group has a culture program and coaches in place. EAP is available for physicians. A weekly meditation meeting was held. By providing support, clear communication, and staying calm, Dr. Fierstein was able to lead her staff forward.