Achieving Collaboration: Physicians, Administrators Offer Advice

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Many healthcare organizations that have started to successfully transition to a value-based system have an organizational building block in common: their physician and administrative leaders are aligned on common goals and collaboratively work to achieve them.

As Dr. Morris Seligman, executive vice president and chief medical officer of Mountain States Health Alliance, explained, “Population-health strategies and value-based purchasing have accelerated the need for collaboration. Physician and administrative alignment is a huge differential as to whether an organization succeeds or fails.”

Fortunately, the broad outlook for physician and administrator alignment industry-wide is bright, according to a recent survey. The Cejka Search Healthcare Perspectives study of 1,621 physicians and administrators found the two groups were closely aligned on priorities pertaining to healthcare delivery.

Physicians and administrators both agreed on three of the top five priorities, including:

  • Effective patient communication
  • Collaboration with advanced practitioners and other providers
  • Being viewed as a partner in patients’ long-term wellness.

They also agreed on the least important priorities for care delivery, which are working knowledge of insurance requirements and the ability to negotiate with health plans.

Unlocking the Potential

With common healthcare delivery priorities in place, the question is: How are some organizations able to unlock the power of collaboration while others struggle?

According to survey participants, organizations must have the communication forums and organizational structures in place that enable physicians and administrators to collaborate on meaningful change. When they do, physicians and administrators develop a greater appreciation for one another’s roles and contributions, which enhances all forms of interaction.

Physicians and Administrators Advise

Physicians and administrators in the study had the following advice to offer healthcare organizations that seek to encourage greater collaboration:

  1. Nurture dyad leadership by coupling clinical experts with experts in workflow engineering, information technology, metrics management and financial reporting, to accelerate transformation and innovation.
  2. Provide clinically-oriented training for more administrators so they can better understand the day-to-day demands of direct patient care.
  3. Provide physicians with individual performance metrics, relative to facility and national peer groups, in order to empower them to more actively contribute to organizational goals.
  4. Create cross-functional teams and committees to tackle transformational initiatives, including administrators, department managers, physicians, nurses, case managers, therapists, technicians and other staff members, for improved processes and employee engagement.
  5. Involve clinicians in setting the agenda and key performance indicators for new care models, such as quality outcomes, value-based incentives, evidence-based medicine practices and clinical technology requirements. Rely on these clinical ambassadors to communicate the goals and rationale behind these initiatives with peers for improved physician engagement.

Many physicians and other clinicians are anxious to be active partners in solving today’s healthcare challenges, and forward-thinking leaders are harnessing this interest. As a CEO in the survey stated, “The best administrators I know engage their physicians in finding ways to improve quality, reduce costs and create effective policy.”

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About Author

Paul Esselman
Paul Esselman

Paul Esselman serves as the senior executive vice president at Cejka Executive Search. Leveraging twenty-five years of healthcare experience, Esselman consults with healthcare organization boards and committees on senior-executive search engagements and assists with organization development and succession planning strategies.

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