Physician engagement falling

It is mixed news for health executives charged with engaging physicians. According to new survey results from consulting company Morehead Associates, overall physician engagement last year slightly fell to 4.12 out of a five-point scale in 2011, dropping from 4.17 in 2010. Among the year-to-year changes, physicians reported they were less confident they would stay with the same institution, less satisfied overall with working with the hospital or didn't believe the hospital provided safe care as much.

However, in the survey of more than 1.4 million doctors, engagement still is relatively high, the report noted. The most significant positive change in the 2011 survey was that physicians agreed, "I have confidence this organization will be successful in the coming years," reflecting the fact that more organizations are sharing their strategic plans with physicians. Another positive change was that physicians also thought the organization cares about its customers.

Overall, the highest scoring engagement items reflected strategic issues like reputation, ethics and the hospital's future success, while the low scoring items focused on physicians' day-to-day activities like scheduling, having input into decisions and communication with senior management. In particular, physicians' relationships with their emergency departments improved significantly, but their assessment of the efficiency of ambulatory services was among the lowest-scoring survey items. Physicians noted these challenges continue to be ongoing for many healthcare organizations.

Morehead recommended healthcare organizations identify physicians who aren't engaged and then involve all physicians in strategy development sessions and process improvement initiatives. Hold them accountable to quality metrics, patient and employee satisfaction data, and other evidence-based information.

"[H]ospitals and physicians should hold each other accountable for providing excellent, safe care and for identifying and acting on opportunities to improve operational processes, communication, collaboration, and teamwork," the report states.

According to a March survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), 88 percent of employees across industries said when they felt valued at their jobs, they were more engaged. Comparatively, only 38 percent of those who didn't feel appreciated were engaged.  

For more information:
- download the report (registration required)

For more information:
Value employees for better hospital performance, engagement
4 strategies to employee engagement
Hospital overhauls leadership structure, empowers docs
Hospitals tap into evidence-based employee engagement
Hospital execs: Strive for physician engagement to lower costs, boost quality
Boost physician engagement with ongoing performance assessments

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