Physician engagement is essential to the success of an organization. Providers’ indifference towards a network is one of the most critical barriers that prevents organizations from reaching their goals. Hospital-owned practices should perform just as well as private practices. In order to improve physician engagement, organizations need to connect with physicians on their own terms.
Physicians are classified as “knowledge workers”, which defined by Peter Drucker, a management theorist, means they are independent thinkers, who cannot be bossed. Therefore, it seems the only sustainable way to help physicians achieve their potential is to engage them as partners in a practice’s success. Successful independent group practices have engaged physicians as partners in decision-making. The partners make decisions for the benefit of the group, and they hold each other accountable. Hospital-owned practices can also implement this type of democracy and allow for physicians to be involved in directing practice management. There are two levels of operational governance that hospitals can implement.
The first level is Practice Operation Councils that include all the physicians and are responsible for the success of the practice with regards to quality, productivity and financial viability. The second level is a Network Operations Council that deals with network-wide policies, decisions, initiatives, practice performance, etc. This council only includes a group of physicians who were selected based on their leadership abilities. This two level council model is successful when implemented within a supportive management structure because it is a forum for dialogue between physicians, providers and executives to improve performance and solve problems. Moreover, the model increases physician accountability to support performance improvement.
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