To ensure physician practice success, practice managers don't just need to engage and motivate employees; they must also win the trust of their physicians. While many of the principles of sound communication apply universally, the nuances of physician-manager relationships are unique.
For help encouraging physicians to support managerial goals without undue tension, consider the following tips:
- Lighten up. Healthcare managers must recognize that much of what's on physicians' minds are literally matters of life or death, noted Forbes contributor Lynda Shaw. "Why do we think business is more serious and important than this?" she wrote. To motivate doctors to improve their efficiency, documentation or cooperation with a new policy, a friendly, even fun approach may be more effective than an aggressive critique.
- Make docs' jobs easier. Demonstrate to physicians that you're not just asking them to do more, but share with them the goal of improving patient care and workflow. "While [administrators] are not providing clinical care to patients, they are designing and facilitating patient care systems that leverage technology, focus on chronic disease prevention and management, and seamlessly integrate the business and clinical operations of the practice," Joan Hablutzel, senior industry analyst for the Medical Group Management Association, recently told Physicians Practice.
- Lend an ear. Even if what you hear sounds more like complaints than constructive ideas, hearing physicians out and empathizing with their concerns is essential to building trust. Thus, it's actually a good sign when physicians are comfortable venting to a manager, William Henderson, practice administrator for the AMC Neurology Group, part of Albany Medical College in New York, told Physicians Practice.