The Art of Practice Engagement

by | Dec 22, 2020 | Articles, Practice Services

“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” 

— Robin Sharma

Healthcare transformation is happening now. Although briefly slowed and nudged to the side by the COVID pandemic, the shift by payers from the old “fee-for-service” care model to Value-Based Care (VBC) is an inevitable and relentless change in healthcare philosophy, and the future of each practice depends on transformation that entails whole practice and physician engagement.

Future success in Value-Based Care belongs to practice leaders who will forge core values such as creativity, enthusiasm, and fortitude. These values will permeate throughout the team, forming a shared vision and mission. An engaged, team-based practice is in a constant state of preparedness for new opportunities, while reaping rewards such as improved patient outcomes and satisfaction, improved staff satisfaction and less staff turnover.

Effective physician practice engagement requires mastery of 5 key elements.

  1. Belief and desire for change
  2. Planned change
  3. Shared vision
  4. Effective communication
  5. Performance measuring and reporting

Begin by Believing In – and Desiring – Change

The transformation process begins with a desire to change and a belief that change is needed. Leaders must convey these values to the team.

Transformation begins with the physician. Physician engagement and leadership sets the tone for the entire practice. An engaged physician improves patient care by improving the work environment and setting the tone for the practice. The staff perceives optimism and enthusiasm and quickly mirrors these values, conveying them to the patients, while eagerly giving their best at each encounter. Thus, change will no longer consist of dragging resistant participants along, but will become a “new normal.” An environment of stretching and adapting will become part of the culture.

The vision must be clear and confident, demonstrating not only the “how”, but also the “why”.

Once your team imbibes the “why,” they will become accountable and empowered, creating a culture of creativity which will stretch imaginations and bring forth new ideas and innovations.

As you transition through change, begin scouting new leaders within your organization who embody the spirit of change and creativity. These key staff members who are identified as champions of change will reach for the baton and run the course valiantly, while effortlessly bringing others along with them.

Create a Plan

Now that the vision is clear, a medical practice roadmap will be necessary to achieve change. Establish specific, clear, and measurable goals. Your medical practice plan and roadmap must be consistently communicated, lest the focus becomes lost and the vision blurry. Provide clear rationale as to how each staff member contributes to the plan. Provide clear expectations for each team member’s role. When reviewing goals, never blame, but gain perspective and input by asking 3 simple questions:

  1. What went right?
  2. What went wrong?
  3. What should we do differently?

Expect setbacks, adjust, and move forward.

Transmit the Vision

Frequent and effective communication strengthens your team and will give them knowledge and confidence in the vision. Create formal daily huddles or weekly meetings designed to share the vision and solicit ideas and thoughts in order to gain valuable input from staff members. Understanding that each member of the team interacts with patients at different points of service and listening openly to input will give you glimpses into facets of the practice that were formerly unseen. Give your team an “open door policy” access to leaders, developing a supportive culture where ideas and criticisms can be fearlessly shared. Encourage feedback and be willing and ready to try new ideas.

Provide Regular Feedback

Once concrete, measurable goals have been established and agreed upon, break the goals into easily attainable chunks, all of which roll up into the final product. Use external and internal data for benchmarking, reinforcing, and highlighting success. Data is essential in comparing practices against industry standards. It is a tool used to see where you have been and where you are going. Frequent feedback redefines and solidifies the vision, increasing commitment and accomplishment and creating pride in ownership. Feedback fosters healthy competition and motivates innovation, resulting in smooth transitions. Frequent feedback will keep the goals in sight and keep your organization on course.

Conclusion

Physician practice engagement is for the bold and optimistic, who both believe in – and desirechange. Creating a culture of teamwork and ownership is an arduous journey that is not for the faint of heart, yet the dividends of staff synergy and longevity – and a shared mission – will quickly lead to improved patient outcomes, driving the transformation process and positioning practices for success as the future and rapidly changing landscape of healthcare unfolds.

To learn more, reach out to the Practice Transformation specialists at Medical Advantage.

References:

Bleser, W., Miller-Day, M., Naughton, D., Bricker, P., Cronholm, P., & Gabbay, R. (2014, January 01). Strategies for Achieving Whole-Practice Engagement and Buy-in to the Patient-Centered Medical Home. Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.annfammed.org/content/12/1/37.short

Beeson, S. (2009, April 01). Practicing Excellence: Your Role in Practice Transformation. Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2009/0300/p28.html

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