Perhaps nothing has been so ignored in the push for healthcare reform than the need to prepare and position physicians to succeed – both in their careers in the face of great changes and as leaders and partners in changing the way care is delivered.
The business of medicine, the relationship between physicians and hospitals and the demands on physicians are changing at an unprecedented rate. Unfortunately, how we educate, select, integrate and develop physicians seems stuck in a bygone era. Hospitals are disappointed with the degree of alignment within their medical staff and with the performance of employed physicians, while physicians struggle to succeed and find a level of career satisfaction.
At the same time, we need and expect more from physicians. The compassionate, paternal, solo- practitioner, schooled in the art of medicine, champion of the individual patient, but oblivious to the business of healthcare or hospital administration is no longer the model. Successful reformation of the American healthcare system, with an emphasis on value-driven care, assumes a new level of collaboration between physicians and hospitals, and a new set of physician behavioral skills–adaptability, innovation, collaboration, business acumen, leadership and emotional intelligence.
The vision is of productive, collaborative, innovative physicians who take a leadership role in transforming healthcare. Rather than devaluing physicians, we need to view them not merely as clinical commodities, but also as the driving force behind success. Here are some ways to begin:
1. Define What Success Looks Like. Graduates from the best schools and the most prestigious fellowship programs are still valuable. In addition, however, we need to consider other critical skills. How will your vision, mission and values be reflected in your physicians?
2. Align Goals and Expectations. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the current “fit” analysis rarely involves more than the hospital deciding it needs a surgeon, the surgeon confirming that the hospital has an OR, and the courtship beginning. This part, clearly, isn’t working. An honest evaluation of how goals and expectations align, a new approach to the physician interview, and physician-specific behavioral assessments will prevent a lot of headaches.
3. Develop Each Physician Resource. Once the employment agreement is inked, most hospitals drop the ball. They plug the physician in and hope for the best. The work that needs to be done? Understand and address operational barriers to success. Create individual physician developmental plans. Implement structured approaches to developing organizational skills.
It’s a simple three step process of defining what the new vision looks like, putting in place a process to understand and improve alignment, and then implementing a developmental plan for every one of these valuable resources.