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Leadership, Physician Alignment, and Service Line Success

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, March 13, 2012
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Some of those difficulties may be due in part to the structural relationship between the physician and the hospital or health system. Two thirds (67%) of hospital and health system leaders describe their service lines as partially aligned with physician practices, while just 23% say they are fully aligned.

When asked about efforts used to align physicians with service lines, 74% of healthcare leaders say they are developing standard clinical and operational procedures, but only 35% say they involve physicians in fiscal oversight of the organization.

There is keen irony in those figures, but it is likely to change as more hospital organizations develop plans involving physician leadership, says Barry Arbuckle, PhD, president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System, a Fountain Valley, CA–based system with six hospitals.

"Historically, who knows a hospital better than physicians from many perspectives," Arbuckle says. For years, hospital leadership had preferred "zero physicians on hospital governing boards, but they are lightening up on that. There have always been barriers for physician involvement."

The trend toward physician employment is also playing a role in expanding leadership opportunities.

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