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Four Steps to Engage Employed Physicians

December 17, 2015

physician-hiring.jpgOur experience has been showing us for years that physician employment doesn’t ensure physician “engagement.” (See our Whitepaper on the New Physician Workforce). Now a survey by the American College of Physician Executives confirms it. A summary of the survey in Becker’s Hospital Review reveals that Forty-seven percent of CEOs, CMOs, and other physician leaders, indicated they didn't consider employed physicians to be fully integrated into the organization's performance improvement initiatives.

What hospitals expect and need from employed physicians has changed. Hospitals are not merely looking to add physicians to the payroll and have them do nothing but treat patients. The expectation and vision is that these employed physicians will be actively engaged in efforts to improve the quality of care and the patient experience while reducing costs. Unfortunately, they sometimes fail to communicate these expectations during the recruiting process, or to understand the physician’s ability or willingness to contribute in this manner.

For us, it’s a relatively simple “selection” deficiency. The selection process for physicians is still very much a recruiting and sales pitch and the evaluation of “fit” is limited to what’s on the CV. Not unlike other roles, though, technical and clinical skills and experience are rarely the problem. Given the new expectations, the selection process needs to evaluate a physician candidate’s: 

  • Goals and how well they are aligned with the organization’s

  • Leadership capabilities

  • Business acumen

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Collaboration skills

Want employed physicians to be engaged? Make sure coming in to the organization that they know that, that they want to be engaged, and that they have the behavioral skills to be successful when they engage. Start here:

  1. Define the expectations: “The data shows we need to add an orthopaedic surgeon” is NOT a needs assessment. What type of orthopaedic surgeon? How many cases do you expect him/her to do? How many patients do you expect them to see? What sort of staff and facilities will be in place to support them? What about non-patient care responsibilities? What behavioral skills and competencies are important?

  2. Communicate those expectations: It’s not hard to make these expectations clear. It should be a primary purpose of the interview. Hospitals are often afraid to be too blunt, thinking they might lose the candidate. Is that more harmful than the $1 Million is costs to lose a physician because of poor alignment of expectations?

  3. Evaluate “fit” on several levels: Besides making sure you have alignment of performance, productivity and responsibility expectations – Our clients are now using progressive behavioral tools like Select Assessment or Executives, Select Assessment for Physicians, the Select C.A.R.E. Assessment and a new approach to the physician interview.

  4. Look at every employed physician as a valuable resource to be developed: Engagement and alignment efforts only begin during the selection process. You should have a developmental plan for EVERY physician in the organization. Would you invest that sort of money in a Vice President/Administrator and not have performance reviews and a developmental plan?

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Bryan Warren Bryan Warren is the President of J3 Personica, a consulting, assessment, training, and coaching firm, and a guest blogger for PSI. Bryan is an expert in progressive talent strategies, with a particular focus on leader and physician selection and development.