Book Excerpt: Complete Guide to Physician Relationships

Kriss Barlow, for HealthLeaders Media, August 9, 2011

This is an excerpt from the HealthLeaders’ book The Complete Guide to Physician Relationships: Strategies for the Accountable Care Era.

There are many references about the relationship between organizational leaders and physicians in healthcare publications, in webcasts, and on the speaking circuit. There is a need for healthcare organizations and their leadership to be in sync with the medical staff. Leaders are acutely aware of the need to balance cost containment and care delivery.

In the 2011 HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey,cost reduction was the highest priority for leaders, with 35% selecting it as one of their top three priorities—quality/patient safety ran a close second, at 33%. Care delivery is at the center of our discussions, but collaboration to manage cost effectiveness is the driver. And although models and methods abound, at the heart of change is the ability to talk with each other—the need to appreciate the business and personal challenges of each party.

Physicians still have room for improvement with their ability to listen to other perspectives and give leaders who are trying a chance. But building that trust is tough to do in the healthcare market. This survey is not about acknowledging trust issues or calling out what the physicians should do differently; rather, it is about providing leaders insight into what the physicians want to hear.

The data highlights priorities for the future success of leaders and the physicians they work with and also provides perceptions about organizational cultures and perspectives. As we anticipate closer working relationships between physicians and healthcare organizations, it is key to understand where doctors believe the organization does an excellent job and where healthcare organizations do not perform as well.

The survey was designed to understand how well physicians believe their organization does in several key areas. Other survey questions centered on physicians’ views of where leaders need to focus their attention for the medical staff and, more specifically, what aspect of the new hospital–physician relationship is most important to them. Not surprisingly, the desire for involvement—control—of one’s own destiny is apparent in the survey results.


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