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4 elements in engaging independent physicians in networks

Jeffrey I. Lasker, M.D., principal consultant of Vision Healthcare Consulting,
discusses four key factors in engaging independent physicians in a network setting. They are, he writes in a NEJM Catalyst blog entry:

“Culture: Fostering a culture of quality involves, above all, respecting physicians’ professional values of self-direction, excellence, and putting patients first — often the drivers of physician behavior and engagement. This respect must be genuine and pervasive. Changing the culture is critical.”

“Trust: Establishing trust is critical for setting expectations in change management. In any kind of organization, you have to develop personal relationships with people to gain their trust. If you’re going to make this work in a network of independent physicians, a lot of relationship building has to happen. To do this, I spent time with physicians in their organizations. I probably knew 300–400 doctors on a first-name basis, and they knew me. If something went wrong, they would call me or others in the organization. They felt that they could be heard, and that what they said mattered.”

“Decision-Making: To support physicians’ values, you must engage them in everything that is done across the network, starting with creating a shared vision and the principles and policies that follow. The majority of our board members were community physicians, and while they mostly focused on high-level strategy, they helped set the principles upon which the organization did business, down to the committee level. There were many times when really tough financial decisions had to be made.”

“Local Infrastructure: To be a successful physician network, you must expect structure and processes at all levels, especially within affiliated practices and local care organizations, because most of the necessary work happens locally. We required each practice and local care organization to have its own structure (such as regular practice meetings), establish a quality improvement team, and appoint a medical director to serve as a liaison with the network. It sounds basic, but if the local infrastructure is not there, you’re toast.”

To read his whole piece, please hit this link.

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