Hospital - Physician Alignment: 5 Points on Closing Healthcare Organization Capabilities Gap

At the Becker's Hospital Review Annual Meeting in Chicago on May 9, 2013, President of Pinstripe Healthcare Jill Schwieters gave a presentation titled "Hospital-Physician Alignment: Closing Healthcare Organizations' Capabilities Gap."

"I think most of the challenges we face come down to having a talent strategy to get the right people in the right positions to be successful," said Ms. Schwieters. "Physician integration and engagement are the foundation for success in solving other issues and help drive revenue and improve quality and patient satisfaction."

There are several opportunities and challenges that can give hospitals a competitive advantage in the evolving healthcare market. Ms. Schwieters discussed the strategies for physician alignment and how to ensure the right decisions are made organizationally to positively impact the bottom line.

1. Position and fit.
This is the most important component to success, said Ms. Schwieters, and it comes down to really understanding aligning the physician's culture, values and price with the hospital. "Are there common values and goals they share? What is the vision of our organization and does it integrate with the physician group?" said Ms. Schwieters. "Talk about the vision and strategy, and how they will and won't align, as well as the consequences if they don't. Have those difficult conversations early in the relationship."

2. Plan. Figure out what the hospital will standardize versus what it will customize for the aligned physicians. This process is different from hiring a physician outright, and hospital leaders must be sensitive to the physicians' needs. "Really think about the common processes you want to have in place to validate and get the physicians through the process," said Ms. Schwieters. "Work with the physicians to guide them through the process. Figure out what are the appropriate tools or technology they need. This is hardwiring the soft stuff; make sure you are doing the soft touch things as well as the compliance. Consistency is really important, and you must align with the physician leaders of the practice as you communicate about why alignment is important."

3. Participation.
Most physicians in private practices are entrepreneurial and independent operations by nature, but you can't communicate too much with them, said Ms. Schwieters. Develop messaging and communication tools to share information across the organization and with their staff as well. "Make sure physicians have the skills that we as natural operators have always had," said Ms. Scwieters. "Consider how you communicate with executives in the bureaucracies, which is often different from physicians. We can't assume that, despite the size of the group, physician leaders have these skills. Make sure there are development opportunities in place for other surgeons and clarity of expectations so the partners will hold each other accountable for their responsibilities."

4. Bottom line.
Hospital leaders must make a return on investment for their alignment. New processes with the physicians should drive efficiency; make sure the right tools are in place for success. "Make sure the physicians are engaged in the process and have passion," said Ms. Schwieters. "Put the right processes and systems in place to engage them and help create the right tools to measure where they are at. Investments are made with that outcome, so figure out how you are going to determine success together."

5. Maintain success. While people may come into the alignment engaged and enthusiastic, it's difficult to maintain that level of excitement. Physicians must be adaptable and have the appropriate leadership skills to move their team forward. "Most physicians aren't born leaders and don't aspire to be in formal leadership roles," said Ms. Schweiters. "Collaboration and listening are interrelated in terms of achieving what we need for the future."

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2018. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.


Top 40 Articles from the Past 6 Months