How healthcare executives can gain doctors' trust

Healthcare executives who seek to successfully integrate doctors into their organization may find the task easier said than done, but taking steps to build physicians' trust is a good start, according to Hospitals & Health Networks Magazine.

Noting that past generations of healthcare executives often viewed physicians as "occupational hazards," Jeff Goldsmith, Ph.D., the president of Health Futures Inc. and professor of public health sciences at the University of Virginia, notes that it's now more important than ever for the C-suite to learn to peacefully coexist with doctors, as an increasing number of physicians work for hospitals.

In order to work more effectively with physicians, healthcare executives first must better understand their mindset, Goldsmith writes. Hospital leaders must know that today's doctors are "fiercely competitive"--a trait that, if leveraged properly, can be a powerful motivator, he writes. Further, physicians care very deeply about their patients and their health outcomes, but have not necessarily been trained to address the health needs of the rest of the community.

Modern physicians also, perhaps unlike generations before them, strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance, a trend their bosses must be aware of if they "wish to keep them once they've paid off their debts," Goldsmith writes. Along the same lines, hospital leaders can expect to lose their most talented doctors if these physicians find their practices are being managed poorly with substandard clinical leaders and practice managers, he argues.

But understanding these key traits of today's doctors--and recognizing that they are a "different species" from healthcare executives--isn't enough to achieve successful integration. Hospital leaders also must practice transparency and integrity by promising only what they can actually deliver and being honest about what they don't know, Goldsmith writes.

Another way to improve the relationship between hospitals and their employed doctors is to empower physician leadership, FierceHealthcare has reported. Some ways to achieve this include prioritizing patients and performance, streamlining processes and conducting effective evaluations.

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