Physician Engagement Improvement


Physician Engagement can be defined as the process of bringing physicians together with other healthcare stakeholders to continuously improve care and patient experience. Physician engagement is important for the all-around and smooth running of a healthcare organization. It’s a recurring problem that physicians show reluctance to participate in physician engagement partly because of the uncertainties it brings. In order to solve this problem and increase physician engagement, it important to understand why physicians are reluctant in the first place. So what are the barriers to Physician Engagement

Barriers to Physician Engagement

  • A need for an uptick in Physician Engagement often comes alongside organizational changes and policy introductions. This makes physicians preoccupied with concerns about losing their autonomy or having a drop in their income levels.
  • Physicians usually have to deal with increased patient loads and an onslaught of new regulations, laws, and guidelines.
  • Physicians l feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped to implement change. They also lack an understanding of how their behavior contributes to healthcare waste and inefficiency.
  • Hospitals and payers believe that employing physicians is the primary means of securing alignment. Instead, a holistic approach by combining multiple alignment levers (e.g., personal autonomy, clinical autonomy, colleagues, IT department) would be more effective.
  • Organizations have the misconception that compensation is one of the most important drivers for physicians.
  • Physicians have a poor understanding of the risk-based payment model along with being risk-averse.

Ways to Increase and Improve  Physician Engagement

Focus on Physician Engagement Early

It’s important to involve physicians at the onset stages of any organizational changes. Physicians will buy into a new methodology much more quickly if they are engaged in its development. Bringing physicians into the decision-making process early gives them a sense of ownership and control and helps them see the value in what’s been done. This early stage involvement trickles down throughout the organization. Early involvement also increases the ease of information flow.

Find Champions Among the Medical Leadership

Once the quality improvement team has set the vision, the need to find champions among the medical leadership to evangelize it. These “champions” are either senior physicians or physicians who are well respected by their colleagues or who have political capital in the organization. That doesn’t mean they’re issuing orders. Instead, they’re promoting it to their colleagues, telling them where the organization is headed and why it will benefit them individually and as part of the team. The champions should focus on what success will look like. If they can paint an attractive vision, it will help overcome the early fears and keep everyone onboard through the inevitable bumps and complications that arise in any sort of project of this magnitude.

If Your Project Is Large, Choose One Area of Focus

Avoid trying to make too many changes at once. To avoid that very real concern it’s best to choose one small area to start – preferably one where there are low risk and high reward. People have short memories, and any early enthusiasm that was generated will quickly dissipate if there’s no progress or reward after a short time. Starting in one area manages expectations produces faster measurable results.

Build a Broad but Specific Guidance Team

This means building a team that includes someone from each area or the organization that changes are going to be implemented at. And not just anyone, pick people that interact with patients and have a working knowledge of their department and all is nuances.

Once You Have the Plan, Follow It

Stick to the plan and stick to dates and deadlines. While flexibility is necessary at times, it is important to follow the plan to show seriousness and respect for the people involved.  Establishing a solid plan, and then fanatically sticking to it, will help you avoid those pitfalls and maintain the enthusiasm you’ll need to see the project completed and, more importantly, embraced by the organization.

Make the Results Data-driven

Once you have the numbers, be sure to communicate your successes as widely as possible across the organization. Use the credibility of your leaders/evangelists to spread the word. You don’t want to be an underground success – you want to share your data with everyone who needs to know.