Adding Employed Practices to Your Organization? 6 Ways to Getting Buy-in From the Practice

Strong relationships between the hospital and employed physicians start when organizational leaders define their expectations of financial performance and measures of practice success. This sets the stage for others in the organization to launch into practice development efforts. With this understanding on the hospital side, gaining support from the providers and practice staff is a good place to start building confidence in the relationship. Buy-in from the employed practice can make all the difference in the eventual success of a practice development strategy.

Getting the practice team comfortable with any practice development plan begins with an understanding and agreement of the goals. This should start before the contract is signed and reinforced in the early stages of integration. Then, like any team project with a mutual goal, other building blocks include a consensus on the action plan and a clear path for who is responsible for what.

Once everyone agrees that working together is a good idea and the dialogue begins, hospital business development leaders will likely need to continue to earn credibility from the practice. Here are a few ideas to help cultivate this support:

Invite, listen and acknowledge. One of the best things you can do to earn trust with your new practice partner is ask for the physicians' input. They know their practice dynamics and culture best. Staying true to the practice personality will be important, especially if the practice was successful in the market before it joined the hospital organization. Knowing that hospital leaders genuinely want to understand their perspective and will factor their input into the overall strategy is a great step for getting buy-in to the recommendations later.

Ease into it. Don't risk alienating a newly employed practice by pushing them to change their brand and practice character all in one day. Start with understanding the brand elements that are working for them and commit to keeping them true. Then make the brand shift a process by taking small steps and getting agreement at each step. It will make acceptance and action easier.

Strategy vs. tactic. Leaders know physician practices are process-oriented operations. The practice's objective each day is to provide great patient care, on time and as efficiently and seamlessly as possible. This is an operational and tactical system, and you’ve signed them on because you know they can do this well, or have the potential. So, when it comes time to engage this team in the practice growth plan, think about how they think. Give them a strategic framework, but they will be most interested in the action plan — the tactics, the to-do's, accountabilities, timelines and expected results. Engage them in the action. Define their roles in their terms.

Regular rounds from executive team. Few things build confidence in a practice-hospital relationship more than an engaged and participative executive team. The executive team will want to have a role in the process and find reasons to have regular interactions with the physicians and practice staff. Attaching the executive team to the practice development efforts can eventually lead to deeper relationships with the physicians.

Talk about "wins." Look for opportunities to discuss any hospital-related news that will add value to the operational, strategic or clinical functions of the practice. Make the connection. And invite 'good news' stories from the practice. Encourage them to share their positive patient experiences, for example, and then find ways to share it with internal stakeholders — from the board of directors, to clinical directors to hospital staff — and through the hospital's practice marketing efforts.

Show progress to drive ongoing involvement. As the practice development plan gets rolling, share the numbers. Physicians will expect conversations with leadership about the pro forma metrics, but keep them in the loop on a more regular basis about the results of active practice marketing strategies. Strong numbers reinforce the value of the plan, and less-than-desirable numbers will hopefully motivate the team to get better. Establish ways to incentivize the practice to reach satisfaction and quality/outcome metrics and to help create differentiators that then can be marketed.  

At the start of the hospital-employed physician relationship, there's a good chance there will be some anxiety about this new partnership — at least until both parties have time to prove their value as a good partner. Keep the practice engaged and involved, even after the initial phase. Buy-in and support is an ongoing effort.  

Ann Maloley, MBA, is a lead consultant with Barlow/McCarthy, a recognized industry authority in hospital-physician relations programs. Having worked in a variety of healthcare settings allows Ms. Maloley to provide her clients with broad industry insight and results-oriented strategies. During her 20-year career in healthcare she has had the opportunity to lead teams through the successful launch of practice marketing initiatives, physician relations programs and service line and brand image campaigns. In addition, Ms. Maloley serves as an adjunct faculty member for a premier Midwest university teaching healthcare marketing.

More Articles on Physician Engagement:

Employing Physicians: Leverage the Honeymoon to Ensure Success for the Future
19 Rules for Meaningful Conversations With Physicians
Practice Development for Your Employed Physicians: A 2012 Physician Relations' Strategy

Copyright © 2023 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.