Healthcare systems fall short in physician engagement, docs report

Healthcare systems that engage with physicians can improve their recruitment and retention and improve their chances of reaching other high-priority goals, according to a new survey by Physician Wellness Services and Cejka Search.

Doctors who feel engaged are more likely to be satisfied in their work, according to a summary of the findings published online in the American Hospital Association's Hospitals & Health Networks Forum. But "engagement levels over the past three years have grown at a lukewarm pace, at best," according to the symmary by Physician Wellness Services consulting physicians Daniel Whitlock, M.D., M.B.A., and Robert Stark, M.D. 

The five most important elements to feeling engaged, according to the survey were:

  1. Feeling respected for competency and skills
  2. Feeling that opinions and ideas are valued
  3. Maintaing a good relationship with peers
  4. Achieving a good work/life balance
  5. Having a voice in how the doctor's time is structured and used

The survey queried physicians from a variety of specialties, finding "gaps between what they would like to experience and what they are experiencing," according to the summary.

Many healthcare systems don't know how to better engage physicians and integrate them into their organization, Peter Angood, M.D., CEO of the American College of Physician Executives, told FierceHealthcare this spring. "Think about why you would want to become engaged," he said. "As those are better defined, it's very important to come up with a plan so there is mutual respect, mutual collaboration and mutual performance in order for there to be success in the plan."

In their survey summary, Whitlock and Stark said healthcare organizations can improve physician engagement by:

  • Asking specific questions about how engaged doctors feel, what they consider most important and where they see gaps
  • Sharing the results openly, preferably with a doctor as a thought leader guiding further discussion and listening to responses
  • Creating and sharing a roadmap of what needs to change, then act on it

Physician engagement also is critical to successful electronic health record governance, according to a recent HIMSS Analytics study. The study found that formal EHR governance structures can affect incentive program rewards, but HIMSS Analytics Director Brendan FitzGerald told FierceEMR that relatively few doctors are involved in creating and managing those structures.

To learn more:
-here's the survey summary