Physician Engagement Is Key to Productivity and Performance

Hospital systems with high levels of physician engagement can improve referrals and increase productivity and revenue, suggests a February 2015 article published in the Gallup Business Journal.

The article highlighted one hospital system that Gallup studied. It showed engaged physicians gave the hospital 3 percent more outpatient referrals and 51 percent more inpatient referrals than physicians who were not engaged. The engaged physicians at that hospital system were also 26 percent more productive, leading to an average increase of $460,000 in yearly patient revenue per physician.

It can be difficult for hospitals to get physicians to participate in engagement activities, the Gallup article said. A few challenges were noted:

  • The nature of a physician’s role—Whether the physicians are hospital employees or are referring patients to the hospital from their practice, they function both as customers of a hospital and employees.
  • Focus—A physician’s demanding schedule may lead them to view completing an engagement survey as a low priority. They may also view the concept of engagement as a “soft” science, and this can lead to low survey response rates.
  • Trust—Some physicians may not always feel supported by hospital leadership and there may be disagreement over budgetary issues. They may feel that their engagement will not yield positive change.

There are a number of factors that can drive physician engagement: the degree to which physicians have a role in creating clinical and administrative policy, how the hospital system handles changes in health care, including technology and regulations, scheduling and time management issues, support system and staffing, and work-life balance.

If You Can’t Measure Physician Engagement, You Can’t Fix It
If physician engagement is such a vital tool for the success of a hospital system, why doesn’t the issue garner more attention? The answer is likely that physician engagement can be difficult to measure.

PACT, a cutting-edge new Physician Engagement Assessment supported by the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED), offers measurement tools that go beyond engagement surveys.

PACT uses an evidence-based methodology that is missing from other tools like physician opinion surveys. A diagnosis must be made using facts and not opinion, and PACT offers a way for you and your team to gather the facts you need to make decisions.

The five components of physician engagement measured by PACT include leadership, communication, clinical care, professionalism, and finance.

A Clear Path for Organizations to Measure Engagement
Hospitals and large medical groups will find that PACT provides benefits, including stronger recruitment and retention of high-caliber physicians, enhanced productivity, and conflict reduction. The assessment tool will also enable organizations to improve both patient outcomes and financial performance.

Going through the PACT process also adds value for physicians in hospitals, whether employed or independent, or for physicians who are part of a large medical group, when they do not feel appropriately engaged by their group.

Physician Engagement Assessment Options
There are two PACT assessment options: Facilitated Path and Self-Guided Path. Both paths offer an online tool with assessment questions and the ability to upload related materials. The PACT team will score self-reported answers and related materials and provide a report which includes best practices, resources, and relevant references.

The Facilitated Path includes an onsite visit from PACT staff who will interview key staff and verify documents and processes. The Self-Guided Path excludes the onsite visit and provides an economical alternative to the Facilitated Path.

“We all want to provide great care, but there are secondary motivators that have to be taken into account. You need to know how to understand how to get to mutual goals. Good patient care is not enough,” wrote Gus Geraci, MD, PACT Chief Medical Officer, and PAMED’s consulting chief medical officer, in his Quality and Value blog. PACT can help you achieve those mutual goals.

Other resources

  • PAMED’s Quality and Value blog written by Dr. Geraci and guest bloggers—Covers topics like getting physician buy-in and mistakes to avoid when leading physicians
  • PAMED’s Leadership Skills Academy—Learn the skills you need to foster communication, build trust, strengthen teams, facilitate change, and drive quality with webinars and live courses
  • Get skills for success in value-based care with PAMED’s innovative education