HELP WHERE HOSPITALS NEED IT ®
HELP WHERE HOSPITALS NEED IT ®
Community Hospital Blog
by Stephanie Hobson, CHC Director of Physician Recruitment
Community hospitals can strengthen bonds with physicians through proactive engagement that is genuine and mutually beneficial. Foremost, it’s optimal to consider the physician point of view, from their clinical practice and other commitments, to perks that may drive growth strategies long-term for all parties.
When physicians understand how working together with the hospital can help them provide better care for their patients, it’s a win-win. Among the benefits cited by physicians and healthcare system leaders in a HealthLeaders survey on physician alignment, positive outcomes can be:
Physician engagement recommendations
Here are some fundamental ideas on how to create a physician-friendly environment leading to quantifiable results.
First, take every opportunity to educate your providers on the hospital’s strategic initiatives. Secondly, diversify the group of physician champions that support your hospital. Whether they are independent practitioners or employed physicians, virtually every healthcare organization can name their “physician champions,” individuals who are positive supporters of the hospital and routinely take on a variety of roles even as they strive to manage their own clinical and personal responsibilities. Consider expanding the number of providers on your medical staff as supporters and advocates; recruit untapped physicians to committees, task forces, and strategic planning teams. Their perspectives and involvement can enhance buy-in to shared goals – the very initiatives they help create.
Reinforce the significance of physician-hospital collaboration in strategy development with data. Provide market-specific information, statistics and facts to support SMART goal setting. Communicate progress and results regularly. Actionable data creates behavioral change. As always, respect everyone’s time and priorities.
Another key to facilitating physician alignment and hospital engagement is to recognize the role of physicians in planning efforts, being mindful of their demanding schedules. Consider meetings outside of clinical time. Develop and schedule a retreat to accomplish objectives. Offer complimentary lunch-and-learn programs. Perhaps send a gift basket to physicians as a thank-you for taking part in discussions and meetings. Physician engagement and alignment enhances the symbiotic relationship between the hospital and provider, achieving positive outcomes that benefit the community they serve.
For a hospital just beginning physician alignment efforts, think about bringing in a consultant to facilitate the planning process to ensure adoption, implementation and success the first time around, creating a roadmap for future projects. For more information, see CHC Physician Alignment Strategies.
Bryan Chandler, Vice President of Business Development, Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas
Physicians say that “feeling engaged” with a health care organization is crucial to job satisfaction, a finding documented consistently in survey research. And in a time of physician shortages and competition between hospitals and health systems to attract top physician talent, engagement can ultimately affect a doctor's decision to stay in their current position or seek a new one.
Improved participation and buy-in among physicians can generate inpatient and outpatient referrals and help bolster the hospital's image as a community-centered, leading-edge provider. When you engage physicians as partners, both parties benefit.
At Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas, our physician engagement strategies include a robust physician relations program with these goals in mind. Service, accessibility, and accountability are among the program’s guiding principles.
A skilled physician liaison is the cornerstone of any effective physician engagement strategy. This role requires a motivated individual dedicated to the value of physician relationships – someone who possesses excellent follow-up and communication skills. Here are some tips to help you identify the best physician liaison candidates and set them up for success.
Hire the right person. This is a high-energy role. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are “must-haves” for a physician liaison. Knowledge of the market area and local dynamics, as well as an understanding of physician specialties, is critical to cultivate physician-to-physician and hospital-to-physician relationships. Your physician liaison will establish and maintain connections for professional referrals and follow up to close the loop on tasks. He or she must understand what’s expected, why it’s important, and be motivated to fulfill expectations. Your ideal candidate is a team player with a servant heart.
Create C-suite accessibility. A physician liaison needs ready access to C-suite leaders, including the CEO. It’s an integral component that can’t be overlooked. Physicians should feel their efforts are valued and appreciated, backed by a team of administrators including the liaison working together regularly on their behalf. Issues and concerns must be heard and resolved promptly.
Document activity and measure results. To monitor progress and recognize opportunities for improvement, the physician liaison should compile weekly summary reports. Documents should identify physician contacts, meetings, details on discussions, and follow-up actions.
Share physician operations/utilization reports. As valued team members, liaisons must have access to physician utilization reports and related operational data. They may be aware of the reasons why particular physician referral patterns have changed. Regular interaction with physicians can be useful in planning ahead. For instance, if a liaison learns a doctor will be on vacation for a month, sharing this news with hospital administrators and department managers would allow the hospital to plan ahead proactively, perhaps making adjustments in staffing.
Inform and educate physicians and physician office staff representatives about new hospital services or changes to existing services. Communicate personally with physicians and office staff members to clarify and reinforce any changes in policies or procedures. This builds trust, enhancing your engagement efforts.
Establish a solid working relationship with service line directors to address identified problems. It’s all about teamwork. Physician liaisons may not have the ability to solve a particular issue, but they can share concerns voiced by physicians with department managers and others who can handle the problem. Afterward, inform doctors that their concerns were indeed heard, addressed and solved.
Share the love. Encourage hospital department heads and managers to accompany physician liaison representatives on visits to physician offices. Say “thank you” to physicians and office staffs for their support. And think out of the box - always strive for better ways to communicate with your doctors. Create a culture to serve a common purpose.
Learn more about CHC Physician Alignment Strategies to enhance physician relationships.
by Stephanie Hobson, Director of Physician Recruitment, CHC
You’ve successfully recruited the physician you need to serve your community. What comes next? The hiring process is just the first step in retaining these professionals you have worked so hard to recruit. Equally important is physician on-boarding — the process of familiarizing and orienting physicians to a new healthcare facility or practice, and to the culture of your organization. On-boarding introduces new physicians to the community, integrates them into the medical staff, helps them establish their practice and achieve a firm financial foundation in the first year.
The case for on-boarding
An effective on-boarding process can help retain physicians in an increasingly competitive and challenging environment. The candidate pool is shrinking and the number of medical students continues to decline. In the year 2020, the expected shortage of practicing physicians is estimated to be 91,000.
Physician replacement costs are significant. The average cost to turn over a physician is $1.2 million. This impacts hospital revenue and patients’ perceptions of care. Replacing the productivity of a retiring internist will require 1.6 younger physicians, according to a 2014 Truven Analytics study. A systematic, well-organized on-boarding process can increase retention (avoiding the costs associated with physician replacement), stabilize access to care, and reduce outward migration.
Lack of an organized on-boarding process has added ramifications: physicians could lose confidence in the hospital or their group by a perceived lack of interest in their success resulting from poor on-boarding; and a delayed practice ramp-up period would increase the time needed to see positive ROI on an income guarantee or employment.
Here are some best practice tips to improve the physician on-boarding process.
Create an effective on-boarding program customized to your facility. Survey existing physicians to obtain feedback about the current on-boarding program and create a small task force to outline an ideal state process. Assign project leaders to assemble support teams including community members and volunteers, and measure results.
Set up Phase I (signed agreement to orientation) and Phase II (orientation to 90 days) action plans.
Additional best practice tips include:
Making it work
Physician on-boarding doesn’t “belong” to the CEO alone. It should be a shared responsibility across hospital leadership, HR, the group or physician the doctor is joining, physician leadership, community members such as Chamber representatives, and hospital Board members.
On-boarding is the benchmark for physician engagement. An effective process can reduce physician turnover and recruitment costs, establish continuity of care, increase hospital productivity, and positively affect patient and employee satisfaction scores.
Learn more about CHC Physician Recruitment Strategies for community hospitals.
Read the CHC Physician Recruitment services overview.
Hospitals are expected to implement new payment and delivery models now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But community hospitals may have difficulties transforming their organizations due to limited resources and other challenges.
CHC’s president and CEO Mike Williams spoke this month with Becker’s Hospital Review about the challenges facing community hospitals and immediate actions to take in order to weather current and future changes in healthcare.
The four main challenges are:
Six actions can be taken immediately to address these challenges:
If these health reform challenges sound all too familiar, CHC can help with operations assessment, board education, strategy development and, if necessary, partnership options. Call us today at 972.943.6400.
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