Before diving in head first into how Healthcare Organization can achieve better physician engagement, it is important to first define as extensively as possible, what physician engagement is. Physician Engagement Defined: Physician engagement is the intentional process of bringing physicians together with other healthcare stakeholders and staff with the intention of continuously improving care and patient experience.
For an organization to run smoothly, all members and departments of the organization have to run smoothly and be interconnected with each other. For healthcare organizations, this included the physicians as well. However, most of their time physicians aren’t as engaged in other aspects of the healthcare organization besides treating patients (which is their main goal). Understandably, they often have their hands full with patient consultations, surgery, attending to patients in the emergency room etc so they have little to no tie for administrative work. However, improving physician engagement in these areas is crucial for the overall well being of a healthcare organization. It’s a recurring problem that physicians show reluctance to participate in physician engagement partly because of the uncertainties it brings. In order to solve this problem and increase physician engagement, it important to understand why physicians are reluctant in the first place.
How do you get better Physician Engagement
Focus on Physician Engagement Early
It’s important to involve physicians at the onset stages of any organizational changes. Physicians will buy into a new methodology much more quickly if they are engaged in its development. Bringing physicians into the decision-making process early gives them a sense of ownership and control and helps them see the value in what’s been done. This early stage involvement trickles down throughout the organization. Early involvement also increases the ease of information flow.
Find Champions Among the Medical Leadership
Once the quality improvement team has set the vision, the need to find champions among the medical leadership to evangelize it. These “champions” are either senior physicians or physicians who are well respected by their colleagues or who have political capital in the organization. That doesn’t mean they’re issuing orders. Instead, they’re promoting it to their colleagues, telling them where the organization is headed and why it will benefit them individually and as part of the team. The champions should focus on what success will look like. If they can paint an attractive vision, it will help overcome the early fears and keep everyone onboard through the inevitable bumps and complications that arise in any sort of project of this magnitude.
If Your Project Is Large, Choose One Area of Focus
Avoid trying to make too many changes at once. To avoid that very real concern it’s best to choose one small area to start – preferably one where there are low risk and high reward. People have short memories, and any early enthusiasm that was generated will quickly dissipate if there’s no progress or reward after a short time. Starting in one area manages expectations produces faster measurable results.
Build a Broad but Specific Guidance Team
This means building a team that includes someone from each area or the organization that changes are going to be implemented at. And not just anyone, pick people that interact with patients and have a working knowledge of their department and all are nuances.
Once You Have the Plan, Follow It
Stick to the plan and stick to dates and deadlines. While flexibility is necessary at times, it is important to follow the plan to show seriousness and respect for the people. When there’s a lackadaisical attitude towards meeting deadlines by the people who set those deadlines, it sends a message to the rest of the organization that they neither take the plan nor themselves seriously. This could be upsetting and disrespectful especially to physicians who are very busy and could put the time dedicated to the plans to other use.