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ACOs Offer Opportunities for Physician Executives

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, April 8, 2011

Healthcare systems have a message for physicians: We want you!

“We are hearing from search consultants that about 20% of their C-suite placements are going to physician executives,” explained Don Hutton, president of MEDI, a Jacksonville-Fla.-based executive placement and leadership development firm.

He says accountable care organizations are a big draw for physicians. “Hospitals and health systems want physician leadership for their ACOs because much of what needs to be accomplished under healthcare reform will need to be physician-driven.”

Hutton pointed to goals such as improving clinical outcomes and lowering medical costs that need strong physician leadership to be achieved.

While demand for physician executives is growing, Hutton said it’s still hard to find physicians who fit the executive mold.

Last year MEDI teamed with researchers in the University of North Florida’s health administration program to try and quantify the core competencies for physician executive leadership. An online survey of 4,000 healthcare executives and physicians across the country produced a list of 12 behavioral characteristics that were deemed most important for a physician executive leader to possess to be successful.

The list includes the usual suspects: integrity; trust and respect; ability to develop relationships; communications skills; and judgment. But it also brings a twist to other competencies that might be difficult for some physicians to fully embrace, including:

Conflict management. Ability to deal with conflict by encouraging the expression of different viewpoints and to collaboratively resolve conflict.

Accountability: Ability to hold leaders and employees accountable for their actions and establish a culture of fair accountability that allows for mistakes when innovating.

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2 comments on "ACOs Offer Opportunities for Physician Executives"


James Pollock, DO (6/1/2011 at 1:11 AM)
With the push to socialized medicine (large , hospital controlled groups under the puppet [INVALID] of CMS), it is difficult. Many of us are branching out into cash payments, concierge medicine and grouping conservative groups to dominate CMS in a specific region. Texas is a great example where more and more physicians simply bill every patient cash and the give the patient the blank forms to request reimbursement. Most of the patients don't mind because the better physicians are gravitating to this system. (note: no need for time waisting EMRs by most of these doctors because seeing just a few more patients with the quickness of pen/paper more than makes up for ANY bribe incentives from the socialist incentive programs. I spoke with 12 physician friends in Texas today and this formula is a formula for success. Doctors in other states are picking up and shifting this direction now. Currently, even if you are under Medicare, you can still bill patients up to 110% of "Medicare allowable rates" (too low and decreasing....hence why quality docs are bailing from it). Doctors across the country are shifting more that direction too along with decreasing government patient ratios. The PCMH/ACO model of healthcare delivery was started about 5 years ago in the USAF and has/is failing miserably. Before the onset of the ACO/PCMH model, USAF physicians were easily seeing about 20-25 patients per day without EMRs, making a profit at about 60% of DOD/USAF clinics-Hospitals. Since EMR/PCMH/ACO institution, not one USAF clinic-Hospital in the world has shown a profit; patients hate it (too many visits with non-physicians) and doctors hate it because their day is longer, pay has dropped for the clinics (billed to Ticare just like civilian sector) and doctor exit rates from the USAF is spiking (6% decline per year the last 5 years!....AF closing hospitals/clinics everywhere). I worked several years in civilian , private inpatient/outpatient practice before going Active Duty after 9/11 to serve. It was/is my experience that most DOD doctors look forward to deploying rather that getting bogged down in an ACO/PCMH clinic situation. The average USAF FP/IM clinic 10 years ago used to make a profit with average gross billed over $400,000 and had a surplus of quality physicians. It is my opinion that since the 'Progressive/Socialist' experiment started a few years ago, the lion's share of the better doctors in the USAF are getting out. The VA system is even worse and declining FAST. The latest "malpractice lawsuit" #s within both the DOD & VA have spiked tremendously in the last 5 years with the dependence on NPs/PAs more and more. Sad. I am now a civilian again and understand how to have success given any experiments tried by the government but it requires education, thinking outside the box and standing firm with core capitalistic principles. I have had to lay off MAs and other folks and gear my targets of population better, but doing well is possible; the next 4 years(until socialistic crap erased) will be bumpy. LOL. God Bless America!

Eye Doctor Miami (4/9/2011 at 8:29 PM)
I guess I have to go back for my MBA. Any chance of interest in optometrists?