There is no end in sight to the record amount of change engulfing the healthcare industry. Whether it’s health system mergers, the acquisition of new technology or new regulations, most changes in healthcare directly affect how physicians practice. While some healthcare administrators are reluctant to include physicians in strategic and operational decision-making, the organizations who rise above the rest will be those who meaningfully partner with physicians on charting the path ahead.
Below is a list of strategies and questions to discuss with your colleagues, senior leadership team and more importantly, with physicians. These considerations will help you increase physician engagement and ensure your organization can deliver on its mission well into the future:
1. Assess Current Governance Structures
- Are physicians represented and integrated into decision making structures and teams?
- Are there communication mechanisms in place to meaningfully engage physicians?
2. Hardwire meaningful participation
- Do physicians know where to take their questions and concerns?
- Do physicians work around hierarchy or organizational structure because they see little value in the chain of command?
- Are physicians rewarded for giving input by putting their ideas into use?
3. Prepare physicians to be influential leaders
- Are physicians trained and supported to take on leadership roles?
- Are leadership roles attractive for physicians?
- Do physician leaders have influence within the organization?
4. Provide meaningful performance feedback
- Do physicians understand, agree with and help create performance measures?
- How do you measure, monitor and communicate performance?
- Do you publicly acknowledge excellence and recognize contributions?
5. Recognize and use physician expertise
- Are physicians doing work that other staff could be doing?
- Are there opportunities to improve processes by incorporating the physician perspective?
6. Balance standardization with autonomy
- Have you collaborated on standard processes and protocols that are data driven?
- Are there opportunities for physicians to use their intellect and professional judgment to make sound decisions?
7. Create a culture worth belonging to
- Is participating in organizational priorities and initiatives optional?
- Would a physician make the choice today to join the organization or team?
- Does the organizations’ values, vision, strategy and senior leadership team align with, reflect and inspire physicians?
8. Start with small meaningful actions (and then talk about them)
- Have you asked physicians what one action would improve their days?
- Is it easy to make meaningful change in your organization or does it require a series of exhausting hoops that have caused people to lose faith in leaders and the organization?
Engaging physicians takes time. A lot of it. But true engagement pays dividends for years—for administrators it means gaining perspective and buy in to major decisions. And for physicians it means having a voice in how your organization operates.
What engagement strategies have you used at your organization? What types of decisions could benefit from increased physician engagement? Leave your answers to these questions in the comments below.