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As health systems progress towards new care and payment models, the key to success is physician engagement, and it must be cultivated early and at the highest levels.
"If doctors aren't engaged, implementing critical programs and new initiatives becomes all the more difficult," says Toby Cosgrove, MD, chief executive officer of the Cleveland Clinic. "When physicians are fully engaged, an environment of trust and a genuine sense of value can be established. For example, physicians will have a stronger ability to practice at the top of their specialty and foster higher collegiality and collaboration. Ultimately, that is good for patients as well.
Here are five ways to get physicians engaged in new initiatives.
Don't wait for the implementation phase to bring physicians on board. Enlist them to identify goals, develop strategies, and set examples for others.
Physicians want to help their patients. Focus less on the bottom line or the administrative goals. Instead, for optimal buy-in, tell them how an initiative will impact patient care and clinical outcomes.
Provide the right tools for the job. Whether its increasing documentation, switching to a new IT system, or adopting a new rounding protocol, make sure physicians have the tools they need to carry out a task successfully. Ask what systems they are currently using, how they are working, and what additional mechanisms would be helpful.
Financial incentives might not be the only answer, but they are part of it. Regardless of the payment system a health system uses, physician buy-in likely won't get far without some kind of reward or risk involved.
When asking for physician involvement, be sure to take the fruits of the involvement seriously. Offer administrative and corporate support, and take full advantage of suggestions being offered, even if they go beyond clinical suggestions. Communicate new strategies effectively using multiple platforms to ensure widespread exposure.