The Challenges & Opportunities of Medical Associations

Author: Ben Hainsworth

The associations sector is vast and hugely diverse. But within this group there’s one particular community that appears to have specific challenges: the medical associations, as Ben Hainsworth writes.

The association is a fundamental building block in the way that most societies organise themselves. You might perhaps expect the Society of Printing Professionals or the Federation of Birdwatchers to have similar models, but the fact is that medical associations have developed a particularly important role in our society and now face set of challenges that reflect not only the reality of their specific profession but also the way in which we perceive them.

This is not entirely surprising when you consider the public’s personal interaction with the medical profession as patient, family and taxpayer. In the OECD healthcare represents between 6% and 9% of GDP, with each of us spending €5,000 per year on healthcare and seeing the doctor as many as 9.7 times a year in Germany!

Medical associations share many common characteristics. They typically depend on the voluntary professional activity of individuals to drive a not-for-profit business model. Their business is to represent the interests of the profession, to use collective knowledge to define standards, to define policy and to be a trusted voice for the public. Yet, beyond those similarities, medical associations are hugely diverse in terms of business model, geography, community, size and of course budget – the mix of challenges they are facing will therefore vary from group to group as well.

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