6 ways to nurture the hospital-physician relationship

When physicians and hospitals are misaligned on decision-making, their performance and resiliency declines. As the majority of physicians in a recent Medscape survey report having no say in management decisions and burnout continues to deplete the workforce, health systems could benefit from increased collaboration with their physicians, leaders from McLeod Health say in an Oct. 19 article for Harvard Business Review

The article's authors, who are all part of the Florence, S.C.-based health system, wrote that McLeod physicians are part of the decision-making process. McLeod physicians said in surveys they feel their work is meaningful and makes a difference, and the article's authors say the health system's turnover rate is "significantly" lower than most in the industry. 

McLeod Health's six tips to better align hospitals and physicians on their organization's future: 

1. Set terms for the alignment: McLeod Health allowed physicians to lead improvements and established a shared value set among physicians, executives and the board. 

2. Identify leading physicians role models: McLeod asked physicians to nominate peer leaders who represent the shared value set and hosted an event to honor them. Physicians are involved in the recruitment and hiring process, aiming to identify these values in potential hires.

3. Treat physicians as individuals: Find solutions with physicians rather than for them, the authors say. Physicians are used to being autonomous, not sitting in staff meetings and adhering to instructions. Get to know what invigorates and what burdens them and give those principles space to guide decision-making. 

4. Support leaders in enacting change: Understand that many physicians aim to help guide their organizations, not just their patients' care. Health system leaders have the tools necessary to get physicians' ideas off the ground. 

5. Accumulate "quick wins": Identify problems that can be resolved within 90 days and celebrate those successes at meetings. This helps build momentum, the authors say. 

6. Invest in physician leaders: McLeod launched a "physician-executive leadership academy," which it describes as an MBA-level training program to funnel physicians into operations leadership or the C-suite. This is key to the health system's succession planning, the authors say. 

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