How to build a successful hospital leadership team in collaboration with physicians

There are several industry forces causing chaos in healthcare today, including physician shortages, healthcare reform initiatives, regulatory updates and the ever-increasing cost of care. Physicians and hospital executives haven't always had close relationships, but now they're becoming strategic partners to drive real change. The question is: How can they build a successful collaboration?

Jeff Seraphine, Duke LifePoint's eastern group president, gave a presentation at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting addressing the key issues and thoughts for physician-hospital partnerships going forward. His presentation was titled "Collaboration Opportunities: Building a Successful Partnership."

Duke LifePoint partners with Duke Heart Center after entering into a cardiology affiliation in 2009. The affiliation grew more into a partnership as Duke LifePoint worked with the heart center to establish a quality program, which was eventually expanded into a national quality program, to add value.

"We have been focused on taking this value proposition to develop the long-term financial strengths of organizations," said Mr. Seraphine. "In our peer group, we have the best balance sheet in the industry. We have access to long term capital markets and partnerships deliver what we need. We are developing clinical programs and figuring out how to export what we do into a different environment. We are working with partners in Southern Virginia to find the shared values and come together to serve the shared vision, commitment to local governance and ability to share services. We keep care local and expand services into the community. Our ability to do that and make the commitment to others who are our partners provides value."

Through one of their partnerships, Duke LifePoint was able to help the network reduce patient harms 45 percent after the physicians and hospital executives came together to deliver quality care to their community. A few key steps to turning around that relationship and achieving results include:

1. Assessing what each market needs to achieve their goals and improve their quality program.
2. Report on progress in the quality journey.
3. Keep everyone accountable for their responsibility in improving quality.
4. Create buy-in from day-to-day managers to implement best practices and operational disciplines.
5. Share new developments among other leaders in the organization.

"We can help provide scale to smaller organizations as well to help them grow services bigger," said Mr. Seraphine. "For example, a radiology director has 60 peers. You're going out to a peer group and sharing knowledge about practice and process development. Healthcare is local and there are things going on in the hospital and we want to take out those best practices and share them across the system and country."

Evaluate and update the strategic plan to realize value and work with your core leadership team. Visualize what the future delivery system will look like and put steps in place to arrive there. One provider in Pennsylvania was looking for a heart program and Duke helped build a comprehensive partnership. As a leader, here are a few key questions for the organization:

1. Are we making the investments and partnerships across the country to get everything out of their partnerships?

2. Are you leveraging clinical resources?

3. Are you leveraging patient safety?

4. Are you training your patient safety officers appropriately?

"Over the next five to 10 years, there will be a lot more affiliation and partnership activities," said Mr. Seraphine. "Independent hospital systems and centers around the country are looking at how we position in the future. Make sure you are working at a place with shared values and a value proposition that meets the needs of where you are going."

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