Physician Engagement

Tap these hospital leaders to drive improved patient care

CEP_ImamuTomlinsonStaffing a hospital with engaged physicians whose energy and experience leads to process improvement and stellar patient care requires specialized expertise. CEP America, a leading provider of acute care management and staffing solutions since 1975, serves more than 6.3 million patients annually, partnering with over 200 practices and more than 100 healthcare facilities throughout the U.S. It has pioneered a unique Team Care practice philosophy — engaging physicians along with nursing, case management, and ancillary staff – to drive high satisfaction for patients. CEP America achieves top rankings on national performance measures in clinical, operational and healthcare service delivery.

How does physician engagement play into tactical plans for healthcare organizations? CEP America President Imamu Tomlinson, MD, offers important insights into strategies and successes.

Q: In this era of unhappy physicians and high burnout, what does physician engagement look like?

Burnout is real. Physicians deal with so many healthcare changes – from electronic health records to all the various metrics around patient satisfaction, outcomes and more. Yet all they really want to do is care for their patients. Fortunately, the challenges and discontent of heightened demands can be offset by providing physicians with the autonomy to focus on solutions leading to improved patient care. Ultimately, when you improve patient care you also improve metrics and meet important benchmarks for the hospital. This win-win is at the very heart of engagement.

Q: Why is an engaged physician important to hospitals?

Strategic plans of healthcare systems across the country are highly complex and necessarily ambitious. But when hospitals start to grapple with the demands of those plans, they realize they can’t do it alone. As performance transparency increases throughout the industry, hospitals must be open and honest about mortality, risk, how patient care is provided. Hospital administrators are recognizing they must partner with physicians and other providers to improve metrics and meet the highest standards of care. They need engaged physicians to get the right outcomes.

Q: How can physician engagement enhance hospital goals?

Physicians, at the nexus of patient interaction, are in a unique position to lead by their own example and set high standards for all patient interactions, across all departments. At CEP America we help facilities build local leadership teams comprised of many physicians with multiple perspectives and areas of expertise. These teams work with nurses, techs, case management, and others in multidisciplinary committees charged to set goals and create better processes. Additionally, we offer these local leadership groups a lot of central support, drawing from our vast experience with many participant hospitals. We set processes into motion, assess and refine best-of-breed, then share that model with another system. Hospitals needn’t go through all the trials and tribulations of starting from scratch.

Q: Can you give an example of how engaged physicians helped a hospital achieve a goal?

Adventist Central Valley (Calif.) Network has three healthcare facilities across 60 miles, with multiple services within each of those facilities. The hospitals were challenged to deliver the right care to the right patient at the right location. Engaged physicians led the effort to figure out exactly how to do that. They led a transformation, using Lean principles, and succeeded in reducing transfers out of the network. It’s important for patients because they no longer have to leave their hometowns and travel to remote areas to receive care. And it’s important for the hospitals because the effort resulted in saving $1.4 million in revenue that had been leaving the community. Another metric this group looked at was turnaround time from ED to admission; they reduced turnaround by 40%. This was strong work, strong leadership and strong multidisciplinary cooperation.

Q: What are your top 3 recommendations to encourage physician engagement?

First, establish a physician leadership framework, however you wish to structure that, and ideally partner with an organization experienced in physician leadership. Second, allow for physician input and actually acknowledge it. Third, allow physician leadership to influence other areas of the hospital and engage beyond the medical staff.

Q: Any final comments?

Physician leadership integrated within the hospital community will be the new industry standard in years to come. At CEP America we stand ready to help hospitals empower physicians with the necessary autonomy to interact at the site level, improving patient care within their own specific environment. We are ready to provide proven, best-of-breed practices to help facilities tap into the capabilities of their local leaders. We offer the advantage of decades of experience and process refinement that can save hospitals the time, money, and angst of reinventing the leadership wheel over and over again. Patients are the reason we’re here; we want hospitals to reach their highest potential by providing stellar patient care.

CEPamerica_LogoThis post is sponsored by CEP America.
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