"We wanted to see what we could do to create a more welcoming environment and get people more engaged from the get-go," says a system's integration coordinator.
Prior to 2014, the physician onboarding process at Great River Health Systems (GRHS) was fairly typical. During a standard half-day orientation, recruits would review and sign required accrediting documents and such—and begin seeing patients the same afternoon.
"We've learned that while that approach is a satisfier to the employer, we didn't think it was a satisfier to the provider to be 'thrown into the sharks,'" says Melissa Jones, integration coordinator at the 130-provider regional system in Iowa.
Why strive to improve the provider experience of onboarding? When it comes to clinician retention and the hefty cost of recruiting a new provider, the onboarding process offers a one-time opportunity to establish rapport, linking a clinician and his or her family to not just the healthcare organization but also to the community.
Consider the following tactics that have garnered GRHS great feedback so far.
1. Connect Early and Often
To make the most of an expanded onboarding process (which now involves a 2.5-day orientation for all providers, including advanced practitioners), it helps to set the stage at the point of recruitment, Jones says.
For GRHS, this means that Jones will visit with candidates during their interview process. "That way, if they do come on board and sign a contract, we've already put a face with the name and gotten to know each other a bit," she says. "It's very brief but engagement really starts at that point in the process."
It's also not unusual for candidates to sign contracts up to a year before beginning work with the system, in which case it's important for Jones and her team to keep in contact with providers and their families to foster the new relationships.
Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.