Catholic Health Initiatives creates infrastructure to engage, retain doctors

One of the nation's largest hospital-based systems has made strides in physician engagement by building an infrastructure for its ambulatory services, according to Hospitals & Health Networks.

Catholic Health Initiatives' (CHI) physician enterprise and ambulatory services expanded significantly over the past few years, wrote Beth Cafaro, vice president of practice operations and president of CHI Physician Services (CHIPS), and Michael DeMott, CHIPS' chief operating officer, in the post. The 105-hospital system now includes more than 3,800 providers, including 2,500 physicians, in more than 600 practice sites across 18 states. But it lacked the infrastructure necessary to support that growth, they said. 

"Our goal for CHIPS is to take the burden of the business side of medicine out of everyday practice so physicians and staff can focus on patients instead of such routine but important tasks as billing and insurance verification," Cafaro and DeMott wrote.

The organization took a multi-phase approach to implement CHIPS. It began in three markets and will be completed in early 2016.

Meanwhile, to secure physician buy-in, the organization addressed cultural barriers, such as a lack of familiarity with new disciplines and metrics in certain markets. "Getting past this normal first reaction to change is always the biggest hurdle," they wrote. 

The organization also worked with senior leaders to show physicians they were committed to transparency and engagement. "This support has been the driving force in keeping the implementation on track. In addition, defining a governance structure early for such a solid physician-led organization was a positive move," they said.

Weekly meetings between physicians and administrators helped to keep everyone informed about progress, according to the article. "Physicians tell us they appreciate their new regular meetings with administrators, where they review practice goals as well as seek additional educational resources," they wrote. 

Physician engagement can be a major driver of outcomes, with a Gallup analysis finding engaged physicians are 26 percent more productive. Despite this, fewer than half of doctors say they feel engaged with their employer, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

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