Who cares for the caregivers?
That’s the question many in the healthcare industry are asking in response to a recent study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund and the Kaiser Family Foundation that shows that 47 percent of physicians have considered retiring early. This might not be so alarming if the reasons for early retirement included fulfilled goals and financial health. Sadly, those aren’t the reasons nearly half of all doctors have at least contemplated getting out of the profession.
Instead, the reason most commonly cited is dissatisfaction with the current state of the modern healthcare industry. Slow Medicaid and Medicare payments, bureaucratic red tape, unyielding reliance on quality metrics to assess performance and seemingly arbitrary financial penalties for missing metrics have physicians feeling less engaged. This is a scary prospect for physicians, healthcare organizations and patients alike. Keeping physicians engaged is critically important to patient outcomes, an organization’s culture and overall financial performance, and the doctor’s own health.
Here is a look at how some healthcare companies are keeping physicians engaged:
In most physicians’ minds, volume should not equal value. While financial incentives are important and effective ways to remove barriers to physician engagement, they need to be clear, concise and easily understood. However, they cannot be tied to productivity, which conflicts with value-based health care. Instead, financial incentives and compensation models should be designed to promote patient satisfaction and the best possible outcomes. When physicians feel they will be rewarded for taking time to connect with patients and deliver improved outcomes–which is why many become doctors in the first place–they are likely to be much more engaged.
It is difficult to disengage when you are part of an organization’s leadership team. Keeping physicians engaged and developing leaders go hand in hand. Everyone wants to be considered an important part of their employer’s future. It’s when they don’t feel valued or that they play a role in helping the organization move forward that they disengage.
Keeping physicians engaged through leadership development can be as easy as developing a model for joint decision making among physicians and administrators, providing governance roles for physicians and offering formal leadership development opportunities for physicians.
Another way to keep physicians engaged? Give them ownership opportunities.
By their very nature, physicians have difficulty when it comes to delegating. Often, they are expected to–and expect to–dictate every aspect of their offices. However, smart doctors and organizations hire smart staff members–and those employees should be trained and trusted to do the jobs for which they were hired. Of course, this only works if staffing levels are at appropriate levels, so proper staffing is critical to keeping physicians engaged and allowing them to delegate. When doctors effectively delegate administrative tasks, they have more time to focus on patient care, staying current with the latest research and even taking time off to recharge and refocus.
There are many barriers to keeping physicians engaged–from red tape to traditional tension between doctors and administration. Ultimately, no healthcare organization can achieve its patient outcome and financial goals if it can’t figure out a way keep its physicians focused on building a brighter future–for their patients, their employers and themselves.
Elliot Health System believes that a positive work-life balance helps to boost overall career satisfaction. Consider a career with a healthcare system that cares about their physicians on a personal level.
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