How would your medical staff rate your health system as a partner? Have you asked? Are you wincing just thinking about it? Physicians are your most important partner as a health system to create the best possible teams for healthcare service to a local community and beyond. This is a relationship that has to be tended to daily. What are the data points to watch and measure for your physician relationships?
Would you like to know the best way to alienate an employee, physician partner, heck anyone?
Mess with their dough. Don’t pay on time. Drop the ball entirely. Make it hard to get paid; tie the check up in the amazing world of hospital accounts payable. When a hospital creates a contract with a physician for their work, both clinical and administrative, the physician needs to know how she is getting paid, what needs to occur for her to get paid, and on time. Ask yourself is this happening right now in your hospital environment?
Have you done an inventory of your current relationships? The physicians you employ directly; the physicians who conduct research; the physicians who you partner with for on call coverage or provide leadership for your OB clinic? This is always represented by good old fashion paper and either stuck in some administrators hall closet or put in electronic file warehouses. Neither of these options treat the contract as an “alive” agreement that can determine how your physician partner sees your health system.
What does the physician agreement say?
Does the physician know what the agreement says, what is expected of her, and how she will get paid? Physicians typically are swamped; flying through an agreement or even a compensation plan is the norm. Not because they don’t care or it’s not important; it’s just another “to do” item on the physician’s never ending list of “stuff.” Make it easy for both hospitals and physicians to access their contract; reference how they get paid and what they are supposed to be accomplishing in the context of the agreement.
Here’s one of my favorite “ahas” with physician alignment. We review thousands and thousands of physician agreements. In our consulting work, we create client documents that outline the types of agreements, the money spent on the agreement with a specific physician or group. I have watched a Chief Medical Officer become unglued when she found out the money being paid to a “misbehaving” specialty group and the contract term had expired. First order of duty was to kibosh that deal pronto. Are you aligned with the “right” folks? If you are already aligned, has the relationship gone stale in terms of hospital community benefit? Is your physician spend aligned with the hospitals strategic direction? Do you know? Doc Doc Goose!
You don’t have to channel Oprah to figure out how to treat your physician partners well. However, like all solid relationships, they need to be tended to continuously to reap the benefits and create a strong partnership that can weather the “ups and downs” of healthcare change. Data is the key anchor to continuously manage these ongoing relationships and partnerships. And data is always an archeological dig in hospital environments. Stay on top of those contracts and it goes a long way in sustaining the health system physician partner.
If you're interested in learning more about the data you should be watching—drop us a line! We can set up a call to talk data/analytics potential from better tracking of contracts.