The complex and fast evolving landscape of America’s healthcare system has created unique challenges for both physicians and administrators. One of the most difficult issues facing healthcare organizations and providers is the industry-wide evolution from fee-based models of care to value-based models of care. To survive and thrive within this new business paradigm, healthcare organizations and their leaders must incorporate new systems and business models. As a result of these changes, as well as the implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) to collect data, physicians have seen their responsibilities expand beyond patient care to include significant increases in paperwork and administrative duties. Consequently, physicians have less time to see their patients and report feelings of frustration and burnout. It can often feel that the goals of organization administrators and healthcare providers are at cross-purposes with each other. How do organizational leaders run an efficient business while also ensuring that physicians feel supported and enabled in their efforts to provide quality patient care? And how can physicians help administrators create and implement strategies that bolster better patient care and the bottom line?
An essential aspect of value-based care revolves around collecting patient data through EHRs and then analyzing it to determine treatment best practices. While electronic health records are meant to enable physicians to make more informed decisions for better patient care, poorly designed EHR systems can have a detrimental effect on providers’ ability to fully engage with their patients. Physicians who have to click multiple times to navigate a single electronic record lose time to the inefficiency of the interface and spend precious minutes looking at a computer screen instead of interacting with their patient. Additionally, too much unfiltered data can cause “alert fatigue.” A 2016 study found that primary care physicians received almost 80 EHR alerts on average per day – and spent more than an hour responding to them, even though most of these alerts ended up being dismissed as unimportant. When physicians are constantly hampered or overwhelmed by distractions such as these, the quality of patient care suffers, as does patient satisfaction, a key metric of value-based care and organizational success.
One of the ways healthcare administrators and leaders can help reduce wasted time for physicians – and cultivate acceptance of new methods and technologies – is to actively seek their thoughts and ideas about process implementations and refinements. This should include feedback on existing systems (like EHRs) as well as suggestions on how to improve delivery of care. Physicians on the front lines have invaluable firsthand knowledge of what works well – and what doesn’t. HealthPartners, a nonprofit health care organization in Minnesota, surveyed their physicians to identify administrative pain points and then implemented a multi-faceted approach to address them. This included creating designated care teams, streamlining workflow, using defined EHR templates, and shifting certain communication responsibilities from the physicians to other members of the care team. Together, these methods save their physicians more than 30 minutes a day.
The strategy of striving to understand the unique challenges facing each department should also be implemented in reverse. A physician’s training does not include a comprehensive education on healthcare policy, administration, finance, or organizational behaviors. Teaching physicians how the delivery of care is financed can help encourage acceptance of organizational change. For example, CareMore Health System has created an internal academy to educate their physicians about how healthcare is financed within their system in order to facilitate understanding of their organizational policies and decisions.
As healthcare organizations seek to create workplaces that encourage and facilitate mutual understanding and collaboration, adept leaders who can help close the divide between providers and organization administrators are needed. Physician leaders are well positioned to bridge this gap, bringing both clinical knowledge and experience with patient care as well as an investment in achieving larger organizational goals. David B. Nash, an internationally recognized expert in population health and physician leadership development, notes that physician leaders who want to successfully implement value-based care models will need specific skillsets: “In addition to flexibility, a willingness to learn and to listen, a deep understanding of organizational culture…is needed.”
At Jordan Search Consultants, we understand the importance of culture and personality fit, especially when it comes to healthcare leaders, administrators, and providers. If you need help finding the right candidate to help your organization move forward successfully, call us at 866-750-7231 or email us here.