Posted August 10, 2017

Physician Engagement Drivers: Removing Efficiency Barriers for Physicians

In Part 3 of this insight series, we looked at the employee engagement.  Part four will focus on physicians and their key engagement drivers.

Today, 51 percent of physicians are burned out (up from 40 percent in 2013), with emergency department physicians and OB/gynecologists at the top of the list. That's a problem because burnout threatens clinical quality and patient safety, harms patient perception of care and increases malpractice and operating costs, among other challenges.

"When physicians burn out and become less engaged, their patients become increasingly disengaged and less committed to their care and treatment plan-and that exacerbates the physician frustration and burnout. It's two sides of the same coin," notes Jeff Morris, MD, MBA, FACS, Studer Group physician coach and national speaker.

"Actually, a physician can be engaged and burned out at the same time, but it's not sustainable," he adds. “It's important to look for changes overtime...to notice when someone who was engaged becomes apathetic or starts to lack empathy. That's different from chronically disruptive physician behavior."

Creating Efficiencies in the Patient Care Experience

It turns out that what patients want is not that different from what physicians want. But so often barriers to practice efficiency get in the way. So, how can we remove efficiency barriers for physicians?

  1. Assess the effectiveness of technology. Does our current information technology allow our physicians to improve patient access and experience? If not, dig deeper. (Are you utilizing a common platform? Adequately training staff and physicians? Optimizing technology to avoid potential workarounds like scribes?)
  2. Ensure clear accountability for all care team staff and providers. Maintain appropriate staffing levels, and provide ongoing staff training and feedback. Also, don't let data become a barrier. Scorecards and dashboards are useful for data-driven decisions, and balanced scorecards are essential for managing the inventory of patient panels and provider availability.
  3. Hardwire a service excellence culture. It's the best way to empower and engage team members, improve efficiency and quality, reduce physician burnout, and increase patient loyalty and engagement.
  4. Manage clinical time. By doing so, no-shows, same-day cancellation rates and provider clinic cancellations will be reduced. You will also see increases in clinical productivity, care access, patient engagement and satisfaction and operational performance.

Physicians are driven by quality, efficiency, input, appreciation and responsive communication. By eliminating inefficiencies and addressing these key drivers, physician engagement will soar.

Be on the lookout for Part 5 that will explore ways to engage patients and family members in their care. In the meantime, you can also view the full conference proceedings infographic.

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