Why All Health Systems Need Physician Champions

May 22, 2013

The most successful medical practices in the future will be those that prioritize finding and cultivating physician leaders.

Sweeping changes in healthcare reform require physicians to lead quality initiatives, informatics, integration, innovation, and other changes in the delivery system. Yet, compared to the corporate world, healthcare organizations place less emphasis on leadership development.

Medical practices should leverage the strategic opportunity to develop physician leaders into brand advocates. During my presentation at Physicians Practice’s AIM Conference, I shared why and how these leaders will become champions for recruitment and community marketing success. Physicians in leadership roles create critical links between organizational culture, retention, and value creation.

Building care teams
Competition to hire and keep top performers will intensify as the majority of medical groups ramp up their hiring plans for primary-care physicians in the coming year. Organizations will be challenged to build cohesive care teams as the growing physician shortage and high turnover rates reduce the pool of available physician talent.

Meanwhile, as medical groups actively seek to acquire or integrate other practices, physician leaders will be critical in engaging their physician colleagues by:
• Aligning stakeholder interests during operational changes in care delivery models, compensation structure, and other areas.
• Ensuring transparency and collaboration in decision-making processes.

Improving organizational culture
Lack of cultural fit is consistently a top reason given by physicians during voluntary departures. Yet, administrators report that lack of cultural fit accounts for less than 10 percent of physician turnover. This disconnect in perception of the influence of cultural fit on job satisfaction could be a key driver of turnover in a medical practice.

Physician leaders can bridge this gap by fostering positive relationships within the practice and modeling the behaviors that support a collaborative culture.

Cultivating physician leaders
The most successful organizations of the future will be those that place a high strategic priority on finding physician leaders who will transform the organization and lead it into the future of healthcare. Use personality assessments and behavioral interviewing to find candidates who can demonstrate a track record of:
• Collaboration with colleagues
• Relationship building
• Transparency in decision-making
• Alignment of leadership and physician staff
• Energy and enthusiasm for patient care
• Engagement in the practice culture

What steps is your organization taking to develop physician leadership? And has the investment improved organizational performance and retention?

Mary Scholz Barber is Senior Executive Vice President of Marketing at Cejka Search, a nationally recognized physician, healthcare executive, advanced practice and allied health search firm providing services exclusively to the healthcare industry for more than 30 years. Email her here.