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by Jeff Burger and Andrew Giger / June 05, 2014
When doctors are frustrated, patient care and hospital revenues suffer. Here’s how to boost physicians’ engagement — and the bottom line.
Four key practices consistently drive physician engagement.
Physician burnout is on the rise. About four in 10 physicians reported feeling dissatisfied in their medical practice (42%), according to research by Jackson Healthcare.
Many feel that regulatory and reimbursement restraints inhibit their medical practice. The volume of time spent on paperwork also disconnects doctors from their patients, potentially compromising patient care. As private practice becomes increasingly associated with administrative hassles and overwhelming overhead, more physicians are leaving medicine altogether or choosing to become hospital employees.
When physicians feel frustrated and inhibited in their medical practice, both patient care and hospital revenue suffer. But there are steps any hospital can take to engage its physicians, whether they are employed or affiliated. And making those changes can have a significant and positive impact on patients and the hospital’s bottom line.
As one health system began employing more physicians, it contacted Gallup to discover how to engage them. After collecting data from the health system and assessing physician engagement, Gallup differentiated physicians with emotional equity in the health system from those who did not buy in — and discovered a strong relationship between physician engagement and productivity.
Gallup found that physicians who were fully engaged or engaged were 26% more productive than physicians who were not engaged or who were actively disengaged. This increase equates to an average of $460,000 in patient revenue per physician per year. In other words, this health system could improve its bottom line by nearly half a million dollars a year each time it successfully engages one of its less engaged physicians.
Another health system recently sought Gallup’s help in building engagement among community physicians with referral privileges. After collecting data and analyzing physician engagement, Gallup again differentiated physicians who had confidence and emotional equity in the health system from those who didn’t.
When comparing this system’s physician engagement data with referral volume, Gallup found that fully engaged and engaged physicians gave the hospital an average of 3% more outpatient referrals and 51% more inpatient referrals than physicians who were not engaged or who were actively disengaged. By implementing strategies to connect with and engage community physicians, this provider could drive revenue and encourage corporate growth.
Engagement and the bottom line
Gallup’s analysis in these two studies suggests that four key practices consistently drive physician engagement:
1. Proactively address and provide solutions for physician problems, especially those related to health reform changes.
2. Promote effective communication between physicians and system administrators.
3. Encourage physician involvement with hospital administration, and ensure physicians’ opinions are heard.
4. Go above and beyond to give physicians opportunities to grow professionally and learn from more experienced physicians.
For example, hospitals could promote their physicians’ expertise by publicizing them as speakers in their community or by providing new physicians with a mentor.
By strategically and consistently applying Gallup’s strategies for building physician engagement, hospital leaders and executives can capitalize on opportunities to grow relationships with employed and affiliated doctors. Improving physician engagement not only leads to increased hospital revenue from higher physician productivity and referral, but it also ultimately promotes higher quality patient care.