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Don't Expect Physicians to Lead Change

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, October 4, 2013

You simply can't practice population health without physician leadership and physician integration.

The American College of Physician Executives has been training physician leaders for 30 years. Members of that organization, including Nash, self-identify as spending more than 50% of their work time in a leadership role.

"But we only have 11,000 members," says Nash. "So you're talking about 2% or less of practicing physicians who are in a leadership role. For success under reform, we need 10-15% of physicians in that role."

There's also been an explosion of graduate training programs exclusively designed for docs that are exclusively online. But funding and time is a huge issue. Organizations, and more particularly their boards, need to take charge, Nash argues.

"Funding physicians to go to ACPE and various master's programs is a great start, and is one strategy, Nash says. "Another one is to bring ACPE faculty to their institution.That's the on-site program. Third, you can grow your own physician leadership program, and there are several outstanding ones."

Nash mentions physician leadership programs at Texas Children's Hospital, Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, UnityPoint Health in Des Moines as examples.

"At those, docs fight to be included," he says.

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