What It Takes to Get Our Physicians More Engaged…

In a recent piece from HealthLeaders, physician engagement was rated the most difficult “aspect of managing physicians in your hospital or health system”.  This facet was ranked the highest barrier by almost half (42%) of respondents.  In the field of healthcare, physicians are trained to focus on data entry, diagnosis and the functionality of their roles with patients.  When focusing on these aspects, physicians often forget to address the personal side of their roles and bypass creating a connection with patients.  This lack of personal interaction can cause a range of issues and patient dissatisfaction as many look for a more one on one, engaging relationship with their physician. 

With our consulting role at (e)Merge, we constantly speak to administrators and staff members about customer service and ways to improve the patient experience.  However, garnering physician involvement can be difficult or near impossible.  Physicians often see themselves as individuals, rather than a member of the team.  They also tend to feel they are not in need of additional training being they are the leaders of the organization.

The importance of physician engagement can be felt throughout a variety of facets in your organization.  The more engaged physicians are, the more employees feel everyone is working toward the greater good, thus increasing loyalty and employee satisfaction.  Engaged physicians also provide a better patient experience as they are focused on retention and building referrals through satisfied customers.  Physician engagement can also bring about a more fluid workplace.  When everyone feels happy with their role and daily experiences there is an environment of innovation and excitement for work.  When this type of workplace is achieved change occurs organically.

So, how do you work toward getting your physicians more engaged in their roles at your practice or organization? In larger healthcare systems, be sure to include physicians in decision making processes; ensuring they recognize themselves as key influencers will bring about a greater sense of participation and lead to more effort placed into leading their staff members.  In smaller practices, the task of energizing physicians often falls on the shoulders of practice administration.  Being able to provide information regarding the positives of getting more involved and coming to physicians with set ideas on how to improve communication can be most productive.

There will always be those physicians unwilling to accept criticism and disinterested in participating in customer service training.  To combat this fact, one organization designated these disengaged physicians as, “Physician Leaders” given the responsibility of coaching others on how to better engage with patients and other staff members.  They were told since they were certain they were providing excellent customer service, they were chosen for teaching others their exceptional ways.  Leaders of this organization found by giving the power to these physicians and allowing them to feel as though they were without the need of training, actually led to them partaking in these discussions and training events more than they would have as a “student”.

Physicians have a variety of motivators, attitudes and challenges.  Be sure to uniquely tailor the presentation of getting more engaged in their roles as to best reach the individual you are meeting with.  Overall, the long term goal is to gather everyone on the same team working toward meeting the same goals for the organization.  What are some ways you have been able to get physicians on board with improving the patient experience?  Tell us on our Twitter or Facebook pages!

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