The gaps are in the form of a near complete lack of any scientific or biomedical education and experience, except perhaps a high school chemistry and biology class or two.
We often receive comments back, usually from "anonymous" posters such as here to our opinions that this expertise gap impairs the judgment of such leaders on medical matters:
... No. I've met individuals with management training who do an outstanding job of educating themselves about clinical issues. And I've met individuals with clinical training who do an outstanding job of educating themselves about management and business issues.
I feel this "anyone can be an expert" sentiment is an important issue to bring outside of the comments section of our posts.
I raised probing questions in response to such messages here in my post "More On Healthcare Management By Domain Neutral Generalists: CIO's Running Hospital Pharmacies and Home Healthcare Divisions?"
Here are my most recent questions to the above anonymous medical self-education proponent:
Re: "I've met individuals with management training who do an outstanding job of educating themselves about clinical issues."
What, exactly, is it that individuals with management training who do an outstanding job of "educating themselves about clinical issues" are professionally or even reasonably qualified to do?
Could they pass medical boards?
Could they reasonably interpret a complex medical article in, say, The Annals, and make truly informed, wise decisions based on that reading?
Could they reasonably evaluate therapeutic alternatives in complex cases, say, someone with a new heart valve who's just developed fever and a lower GI bleed?
In an emergency could they provide medical care? (mot in the legal sense, just in the skills sense.)
If not, why not, and what do you mean by "outstanding job?"
In comparison, I have no MBA or formal business training (other than working for years in my father's pharmacy as a stocker and cashier) but did a good job managing a department of 50+ and a budget of $13 million for an international pharma, solving severe business problems that had been impairing R&D and managing my budget consistently to within 0.5% of EA.
Is there perhaps an asymmetry between medicine and business?
Finally, I ask:
What percentage of a typical medical training curriculum (such as for a Pharm.D. here or a physician here) can a person with a management background absorb through self-education, and is the medical training curriculum therefore irrelevant? Should we just go back to the days of self-trained practitioners? If not, why not?
The critically thought-out answers to these questions expose the territorial invasion of medicine by ill-suited outsiders and dilettantes quite well.
Echoing an observation I wrote about once before in my eight part series on mission hostile EMR's, but addressing it to medical administration where it also applies:
Medical administration reminds me of dentistry in its early days, especially when medical administrators lacking biomedical expertise refer to themselves as "medical professionals."
B.T. Longbothom, author of the second dentistry book published in the U.S. ("A Treatise on Dentistry", 1802), gave an excellent description in his preface of problems at the time. His observations apply to medical administration in our present age:
The word "dentist" has been so infamously abused by ignorant pretenders, and is in general so indifferently understood, that I cannot forbear giving what I conceive to be its original meaning: viz, the profession of one who undertakes and is capable not only of cleaning, extracting, replacing by transplantation and making artificial teeth, but can also from his knowledge of dentistry, preserve those that remain in good condition, prevent in a very great degree, those that are loose, or those that are in a decayed state, from being further injured, and can guard against the several diseases, to which the teeth, gums and mouth are liable, a knowledge none but those regularly instructed, and who have had a long, and extensive practice, can possibly attain, but which is absolutely necessary, to complete the character of a Surgeon Dentist.
Hardly anyone spoke out.
More than thirty years later, untrained practitioners were as prevalent as ever. One of the leading dentists of the time, Shearjashub Spooner, in his "Guide to Sound Teeth, or, A Popular Treatise on the Teeth" (1836) warned the public of a phenomenon I believe now applies to medical administration:
One thing is certain, this profession must either rise or sink. If means are not taken to suppress and discountenance the malpractices of the multitude of incompetent persons, who are pressing into it, merely for the sake of its emoluments, it must sink, - for the few competent and well educated men, who are now upholding it, will abandon a disreputable profession, in a country of enterprise like ours, and turn their attention to some other calling more congenial to the feelings of honorable and enlightened men.
I understand that point of view.