As I read more and more of the details of ObamaCare it has become quite clear to me that healthcare organizations won’t be able to survive this bill’s unfunded and/or defunding mandates without the engagement of your physicians in this healthcare overhaul.
This is because, if you think about it, your physicians are the biggest cost drivers at your healthcare organization: Nothing happens without a physician order! So, if you are to reduce your cost, control your quality and re-invent what you are doing to prepare for ObamaCare, your physicians need to have a front-row-seat at the table.
“Physician engagement is the lynchpin to turn paper savings into real savings,” says Roger Weems, senior vice president, performance management, Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, New York, “You can negotiate new contracts with better pricing in place, but if you aren’t effectively working with physicians and gaining assurances that their utilization patterns will support those presumed, savings it’s a useless effort.”
You might say this is easier said than done, but from my experience physicians are consumers too. And as consumers, most physicians don’t want to buy overpriced, non-reimbursable or low-reimbursable products to be used in their practice. They generally like to be known as being frugal, cost-conscious and open minded. However, they must make the decision to change their practice patterns – not you!
There are numerous techniques to engage your physicians in your purchasing process, but the best one I know of is to share their un-conforming practice patterns (i.e. graphs, statistics, metrics, etc.) with them and they will eventually self-correct — if they are encouraged by your champions to do so.
It’s now been fully documented that data can and will change your physicians’ behavior, if presented as comparisons to their peers. This is because physicians are scientists, and as such make almost all their decisions based on data. So the better the data you bring them to review the easier it gets for them to make a decision (favorable or unfavorable) about their current practices.
What I’m talking about here today will be “business as usual” for all hospitals in just a few years. Nevertheless, we haven’t come to the tipping point yet in our industry where all hospitals have bought into this “doing it with data” philosophy to change their physicians’ behaviors.
This is why you must educate yourself and your senior management that to change your physicians’ behavior you must first, give them a front-row-seat at the table. Second you need to share relevant, clean, and insightful data with them and third, elicit help from champions to smooth your way to success.