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Ali Khan

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In defense of for-profit medicine


Ali Khan, M.D., is a general internist in San Francisco, a clinical instructor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, and a shareholder in Iora Health, a  for-profit primary-care startup that he used to work for.

In this STAT (affiliated with The Boston Globe) he makes a pitch for for-profit medicine.

In a April 4 article,  “How I learned to overcome my bias against for-profit healthcare,” he discusses what could be construed as revenue-and-profit  greedy actions by “nonprofit” hospitals.

He writes: “{T}here’s a rising wave of private organizations at the frontier of health innovation that are in this for more than money.”

“I spent the last three years with an Iora team caring for incredibly sick casino union members in Las Vegas. Our ‘hot spotter’ community health workers, physicians, nurses, and social workers reduced emergency department use and inpatient hospital care by nearly 50 percent and lowered the overall cost of care. Try telling my team — men and women willing to help a patient facing eviction pack up his or her belongings, or visit intensive care units on their free evenings to console families — that for-profit health care is destroying ‘the soul of medicine.’”

“Iora is hardly alone as a for-profit aiming to effect social good. Qliance, ChenMed and CareMore focus much of their work on caring for our nation’s sickest and most vulnerable individuals. Through partnerships with Medicare and state Medicaid agencies, they’ve taken on hundreds of thousands of publicly insured individuals and have seen dramatic improvements in care coordination and health outcomes.”


“When I look at the evidence, I wonder: Why did we ever think that tax status differentiates good and evil? A new narrative is emerging: profit and societal good need not live in opposition when considered thoughtfully — and driven by a robust social mission.”

“Let’s keep that in mind as we work to transform American medicine. Otherwise, trying to distinguish nonprofit and for-profit health organizations just becomes an exercise in legal fiction.”

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