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Physician Alignment Strategies to Counter Uncertainty

Michael Zeis, for HealthLeaders Media, September 18, 2012

Collaboration, metrics
Among the trends that healthcare organizations are exploring to achieve the goal of stronger hospital-physician alignment are care continuum collaboration, effective measurements, and improved communication.

More collaborators. The domain of patient care is extending beyond the hospital. Among the initiatives getting attention over the next three years will be integrated delivery systems, which 51% of respondents will be pursuing. Nearly half (48%) say the will look to develop patient-centered medical homes and collaborative care ACOs. Riverview is establishing new communication channels and new work flows in concert with nursing homes that care for some of the hospital’s discharged patients as a way of reducing readmissions. Riverview’s Ford explains, "We want to have an interaction with the nursing homes instead of having them routinely sending patients back to the hospital."

More metrics. About metrics,
William B. Riley, MD, chief medical officer at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land (Texas), a 79-licensed hospital that is one of 11 in the Houston area, says, "More and more quality metrics will be demanded of the hospital, and more and more quality metrics will be demanded of the physicians in private practice." Memorial Hermann has drawn a line in the sand. "Electronic order entry is mandated," says report advisor Riley, "and we are mandating the use of evidence-based medicine and protocols. We are mandating in areas that we think are critical to success with healthcare reform, whatever form it takes."

More communication.
If hospital administration has a direction it wants physicians to take, communication can make the task easier. Riley observes that physicians respond to information. He says, "If you give physicians information and data, physicians will usually be on board, and they will appreciate being part of the process." Respondents expect to see increases in physician involvement in leadership activities in the next three years. While three-quarters (74%) of organizations expect increased leadership involvement for their employed physicians over the next three years, nearly half (47%) also expect increased involvement of independent physicians.

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