Strategic Contract Management: The Key to Successful Physician Onboarding

As healthcare organizations strive to provide quality care in the face of an evolving payment, regulatory and employment landscape, a standardized approach to physician contract management can help to define their most vital relationships from the start, setting the stage for a more efficient — and safer — workforce. 

Physician contracting is the foundation of a successful health system. Without it, gaps in processes could arise, causing patient care standards and delivery to suffer. After a candidate is identified, recruited and interviewed, contracting is among the first hurdles of the physician onboarding process. The contracting process can present a make-or-break test for the relationship between an organization and incoming physicians and will set the tone for the future of those relationships. If the process proves bumpy, that could create a lasting negative impression on physicians of its employer. Given its significance, the processes and contract terms require strategic management to ensure a positive, productive and effective relationship from the start.

Strategic management of physician contracts provides healthcare organizations with a baseline mechanism for control and oversight. With a standard approach in place, they will be best positioned to facilitate efficiency, consistency, and compliance across the organization.

Standardizing Contract Terms and Conditions

Physician contracts provide the legal framework for a health organization’s relationship with the physician, defining terms for compensation, service delivery requirements, non-compete clauses and termination. By developing standard language to address these areas, organizations are able to set a baseline from which negotiations may proceed. Standardization also establishes a pre-approved set of terms against which organizations can track exceptions to the standard, thereby facilitating risk tracking and oversight. 

By focusing legal and administrative resources on defining standard language and terms for physician contracts, organizations can track all aspects of their agreements and maintain consistency and regular review of standard contract terms and conditions – as well as existing exceptions – is essential in overseeing risk and exposure to an organization and enables the evolution of physician contracting models to accommodate changes in strategic staffing models over time.

Establishing a Reliable Process

In addition to standardizing the contents of the contract, it is crucial for organizations to have a standardized and controlled process for initiating, negotiating, and executing contracts. Without a reliable process in place, incoming physicians may be discouraged by delays and disruptions in the onboarding process and become doubtful of whether their employment relationship with the organization will be efficiently managed. 

Establishing a uniform protocol for physician contracting processes ensures an efficient timeline from the start of the recruitment process through the time of patient care delivery. Each step of the process must both protect the organization and support a positive experience for physicians. A comprehensive, reliable contract process provides for standard contract creation, approval management, negotiation tracking, and contract execution.

A fully integrated onboarding process will also support seamless handoffs to other functions, including the initiation of credentialing. The opportunity to leverage concurrent workflows and shared data across contracting and Credentialing streamlines the entire process and establishes a single source of truth for enterprise needs.

Reducing Administrative Burden and Regulatory Risks

A comprehensive Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) platform is critical for the successful onboarding of physicians in hospitals and healthcare systems. The CLM platform streamlines the entire process — from conceptualization and contract drafting to execution — ensuring that each contract complies with changing regulations, policies, and organizational strategies. As the employment landscape continues to change — as evidenced by the shift of 58K physicians to hospital employment between 2019 and 2021 —the burden on administrative staff grows. Without a robust CLM platform in place, administrators are unable to quickly respond to handle the increase in workload, changes in policy or regulations that may arise, exposing the organization to legal and regulatory problems. 

Our highly experienced team of experts can provide insight into cost-effective solutions that can enhance staffing by automating contract approvals and streamlining the onboarding process. They can also help you implement tools and processes to better align your organization’s strategic goals and contractual commitments. 

The end results? A healthier, more efficient, and safer organization.

Connect with us today and explore solutions for every budget to improve your staffing initiatives and achieve your strategic objectives.

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