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Book Excerpt: Complete Guide to Physician Relationships

Kriss Barlow, for HealthLeaders Media, August 9, 2011

The physicians’ responses to having leaders focus on quality improvement likely leaves some leaders saying, “They have no idea about all the quality work we are doing.” Physicians clearly want the hospital to exceed expectations in quality and to create a safer and better experience for themselves and their patients.

Whereas leaders recognize all of the efforts internally to enhance quality within the hospital, physicians recognize only those elements that impact them on a personal level. The gap between these two areas may fall to directors and managers to regularly remind the doctors of the strides that have been made to work on quality and to share the information in a way that is patient care– centric. Data can be shared that graphically shows the impact of quality initiatives. Physicians can be asked to weigh in on quality initiatives that will impact them. Rather than creating a committee, consider a meeting or a task force that includes two sessions with very actionable agendas and outcomes. The beauty of their desire for quality is that everyone wants the same end result, and the language of data speaks for both parties.

Support at the practice level
Second to quality, getting the hospital’s support in practice operations and management is on the minds of physicians, with almost 18% of survey respondents indicating so. This is great news for hospital leaders in that physician practices view the hospital as a resource for more support and are willing to ask for it. For those physicians who want more support, there is the challenge of practice management in a tough economic climate with more change to come. Organizations should define where are the opportunities to help physicians—for example, by evaluating the type of tools that could be offered and the fit of those tools with what the doctors in your market desire.

Best practice in this area would be to make sure that you only offer what you know you can deliver. And let doctors’ needs be the driver of your actions. Resist the temptation to create practice support strategies that are more focused on what you need them to do to help you grow your business. If you stay focused on their practice development needs, you’ll gain in the long run. Careful messaging for your team around what can be done legally and what should be done politically will of course make for an appreciated value-add.

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