Signs your physician network needs new leadership

For hospitals and health systems, employed physician networks are an essential piece of overarching strategy.

Whether your network is big or small, the right executive leadership can have a critical effect on success. However, finding the right person for the job is no small feat, as managing these multi-million-dollar organizations takes immense amounts of financial and operational experience. Below are some of the frequent complaints or issues that may indicate the need for a change in leadership.

1. Lack of information
If there is no system set up to routinely monitor and report on Key Performance Indicators, then executive leaders will not be able to stay up-to-date on which areas of the hospital or health system need improvement. Logically, this means that they also will not be able to deal with operational issues, stem losses, or prevent smaller problems from developing into bigger issues. At the very least, network management teams should be able to provide senior leaders with weekly reports that summarize financial and operational metrics.

2. Physicians are sick of being in the dark
If physicians and network management are always having to ask executive leaders for updates on operational issues and performance evaluations, they will likely become fed up. Network leadership should be proactively scheduling meetings with physicians and management in order to review project statuses and help plan for future initiatives.

3. Who’s in charge here?
Though it is vitally important for executive leadership to work with physicians within the network, there should be no confusion when it comes to the power dynamic. Executive leaders that are being pushed around by physicians, however well-meaning, are not able to effectively focus on the overall strategy and needs of the health system. This can be a difficult transition for some physicians, who go from their own private practice to joining a network. However, the proper structure needs to be in place when making financial decisions and setting strategy.

4. Physicians are not engaged
Because healthcare is evolving toward value-based care, physician leadership within the network is becoming increasingly important. The input and strategy of physician leaders is essential to ensuring that the best care is being provided. If leadership is unable to engage physician participation through programs such as service area leadership or a Physician Advisory Council, then there is a serious problem that needs to be worked on. Not only should physicians be involved in planning action steps and goals, they should also have specific roles to fulfill in implementing these steps.

5. Lonely at the top
If executive leadership is isolated from the rest of the network, then there is no way that they can effectively plan for the network and deal with operational issues. This is especially true for employed networks, as they are made up of multiple practices that were previously independent. Network leaders should formulate a team of managers or directors that will help them deal with day-to-day problems. This will allow them to actually have the time to interact with their physicians and visit their offices, thereby attaining personal insights that they would not be able to see from their “ivory tower.”

6. We have a problem
One of the most obvious indicators of poor executive leadership is if providers are increasingly coming to the executive team with concerns about the network. Though physicians should be comfortable speaking to their leadership team, operational and financial systems should be operating smoothly enough to take care of most of these concerns. If not, there is a problem.

As employed physician networks need increasing amounts of resources and expertise to manage, it is essential to have a leadership team in place that understands these complexities. If your network is experiencing any of the above issues, it may be time to consider a change to your executive team.

By: M. Davis Creech
Senior Manager
Direct: (502) 814-1183
Mobile: (502) 550-6911

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