Why hospitals can't afford to skimp on physician engagement

Too many hospitals overlook the importance of physician engagement, which means they may miss out on some of the advantages of an engaged clinical workforce, according to a Gallup Business Journal article.  

Gallup's assessment of one hospital system found that engaged physicians are 26 more productive than their less engaged peers, meaning they account for, on average, an extra $460,000 annually in patient revenue per physician, according to the publication. Engaged employees are defined as those who are loyal to their employers and are willing to work with others to improve the organization.

In spite of the benefits, fewer than half of doctors say they feel engaged with the organization for which they work, FierceHealthcare previously reported. This is likely due to some of the unique challenges hospitals face when trying to measure and manage physician engagement, including: physicians' demanding schedules; doctors' dual role as stakeholders in hospitals as well as employees; and lack of trust between hospital leaders and their employers, according to Gallup.

Speaking to the lack of trust, physicians may also believe that their employers don't often ask for their input, and when they do, they may note that they aren't asked about programs and policies most important to them and that decisions still aren't made with the proper context, Gallup notes.

Even amid the many challenges, there are still some key steps hospitals can take to improve physician engagement. Gallup recommends that hospital leaders ask a diverse group of physicians to evaluate the hospital's communication processes and identify at least one or two major areas in which physicians could have a greater voice. Hospitals should also appoint physician liaisons to work with nurses and other caregivers to identify engagement issues as well as improve communication between the front-line and medical staff, according to Gallup.

Doctors themselves can play a key role in improving engagement by aligning their professional objectives with their company's big-picture plans, FierceHealthcare reported, an effort that administrators can support by keeping doctors in the loop about the organization's financial and operational goals.

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