What You Need to Know About the AHA’s Report on Physician Engagement

 What You Need to Know About the AHAs Report on Physician Engagement
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The American Hospital Association (AHA) recently released the report, Critical Conversations on the Changing Health Environment: Physician Engagement. The report discusses the historical divide between clinical leadership and hospital administration and the necessity to bridge the gap in the new healthcare environment where delivering high quality patient care and improving population health outcomes have become increasingly important factors for long-term success. Physician engagement remains a challenge in the current healthcare landscape, but it can be beneficial for achieving the industry’s desired outcomes.

Here’s what you need to know about the AHA report and how you can improve physician engagement at your hospital.

The Triple Aim Requires Collaboration

“The Triple Aim of improved quality and patient satisfaction, improved population health, and reduced costs requires a team approach一a new way of looking at relationships in healthcare,” the report states. Specifically, this requires increased collaboration between administrators, clinicians, communities and patients. The AHA recognizes that physician engagement is critical for the success of this collaborative approach.

“To achieve an integrated care model, we need a leadership model that is also integrated,” John Combes, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of the AHA, states in the report. “This starts with a functional partnership between organized physicians and hospitals.”

The Need for Better Physician-Hospital Relationships

Trust between hospital administrators and physicians has suffered over the past 30 years due to a variety of factors. The diagnosis related groups introduced in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the increasing use of hospitalists and intensivists, and healthcare’s world of dualities of value-based and fee-for-service reimbursements have all contributed to the erosion of trust between the two.

The Affordable Care Act has the potential to align physicians and administrators by incentivizing value, while also giving consumers more control over their care. More than ever, patients are looking for convenience and value, and the retail industry has already responded to their needs. In this situation, physicians and hospitals “don’t have the luxury to mistrust each other,” Combes states. “We have to work together to manage the clinical enterprise and get outcomes that bring value to healthcare.”

Physician Leadership Remains Critical for Engagement

In order to meet the healthcare industry’s evolving demands, hospitals need to achieve clinical transformation. Physician engagement and physician leadership are key to achieving this goal, according to Mo Kasti of the CTI Physician Leadership Institute.

The following are five key insights to physician engagement, according to the AHA’s experts:

  1. Engagement is not a command or a one-time effort. It’s a long-term process that works best in a culture of trust and aligned values.
  2. Focus on the engaged physicians first. It’s more effective to start with the engaged physicians so that they can get the other physicians involved, Kasti states.
  3. Find out what compels physicians to get engaged. Physicians will feel more motivated towards involvement in an environment where they can tap into their intrinsic motivations.
  4. Don’t forget about employed physicians. Employment does not equal engagement and lack of autonomy only encourages disengagement, according to Dana Rodriguez, Chief Quality Resources Officer and Compliance Officer at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center.
  5. Develop physician leadership skills. “Physician engagement is actually a physician leadership imperative,” Combes states.

Healthcare’s changing landscape remains a challenge for hospitals and physicians, but the path to success can be strengthened by focusing on physician engagement. By working closely with physician leadership, hospitals can make big strides in building trust and improving relationships. For more information, download the full report from AHA’s website.

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