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Physician Engagement


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Physician Engagement

  1. 1. reliability in agreements. Handshakes must be commitments that are understood and acted upon. 5. Provide staff and infrastructure that help build physicians’ “engagement Physician Engagement in Hospital quotient” (EQ). Make it easier for physicians to be more fully engaged in group work via smarter and leaner reports (all board members call for Governance Improves Performance this). Call fewer—but higher quality—meetings that have meaningful by Jim Rice agendas, provide useful information, and promote open discussion. Schedule some of the meetings around the physicians’ early patient care Reviews of U.S. hospital boards over the past three years day (i.e., meet later in afternoon, after office hours). reinforce the conclusion that fulfilling a hospital’s mission and maximizing its margin require more effective physician There is risk associated with active physician involvement in hospital board collaboration and trust. But just when collaboration and work, however, the risks are much greater if they are not fully engaged. The trust are needed most, hospital boards are finding these the five most common risk issues that arise as a result of increased physician most difficult to achieve. What factors frustrate or facilitate engagement are as follows: this needed physician collaboration? What can be done to 1. As more physicians are tempted to participate in the ownership or rekindle and nurture collaboration and engagement? operation of competing care facilities, conflicts of interest may arise. Recent studies by The Governance Institute in San 2. Board members and managers may find it time consuming to support Diego acknowledge the growing importance of physician physician participation. engagement in all aspects of hospital governance and the 3. Physicians may ask disarming questions about why and how strategic common factors that frustrate this engagement. Physicians moves and investments are being made. cite five key frustrations that reduce the effectiveness of their 4. Physicians may become more astute and assertive in their calls for participation in hospital board work: additional capital spending. 1. Lack of meaningful and sincere invitation to participate. 5. Physician relations with staff and patients may unfairly leverage their If physicians sense the board’s request to participate is impact on developing or executing hospital strategy. only lip service, their enthusiasm and the quality of inter- action are constrained. 2. Time constraints. Unfocused and unproductive processes and meetings that are scheduled for the convenience of The Positive Circle of Physician Engagement the non-physician board members demonstrate a lack of understanding of the physicians’ time limitations. The pursuit of a higher physician engagement quotient 3. Lack of relevance to their practice. With technology and (EQ) in hospital governance processes can generate a patient preferences changing, most physician specialties positive circle of results that improves the organization’s do not need the hospital as their workshop in the same performance. way they did 20 years ago. 4. Lack of preparation for governance processes and decision-making roles. Physicians are rarely trained in teamwork, medical economics, or policy making. Resources are needed to optimize the physicians’ mean- ingful participation in governance work. 5. Lack of compensation. It is more difficult to ask for volunteered engagement when it appears to benefit the hospital more than the physician’s practice of patients. Five strategies have been found to be useful in optimizing physician engagement and effectiveness: 1. Board leaders must demonstrate to their physician colleagues that they can learn to listen, and listen to learn. 2. Remove obstacles to physician participation. One of physicians’ most valued resources is their time. Strip away unnecessary meetings, reports, processes, and activities. Schedule meetings that specifically take into consideration the physicians’ availability and convenience. Acknowledging these potential risks and adopting the strategies of openness 3. Adopt a culture of openness: open door, open communi- and engagement to minimize these risks will lead to enhanced hospital gover- cation, and open books. Even with the threat of informa- nance and improved hospital performance. The movement toward involving tion and insights leaking to competitors, err on the side of and engaging physicians is a positive step, but we must continue to move transparency as a first step toward building trust. Promote forward if we hope to strengthen our nation’s health sector performance. this openness as a two-way street for physicians to also share their plans relevant to the hospital’s well-being. Jim Rice is a principal in the LarsonAllen Health Care Group. Contact Jim at 4. Keep your word. Building trust requires consistency and or 612/376-4571. 14 LarsonAllen EFFECT / Fall 2005