Effective physician leaders must build culture, communicate well

care team

The two most important skills that all physician leaders must possess is the ability to build a positive culture in their practice or hospital and to communicate well with the healthcare team and patients, according to a survey of nearly 500 executives, clinical leaders and clinicians.

The survey was conducted by the NEJM Catalyst Insights Council to examine what leadership skills are needed for the next generation of healthcare. The ability to build an organizational culture ranked first (47 percent) followed by communication skills (42 percent).

But the ability to nurture a culture of change is just one area physician leaders should focus on as the healthcare industry continues to evolve, Chrissy Daniels, director of strategic initiatives at University of Utah Health Care, told the blog. Daniels said an approach that combines the survey’s top three results--culture, communication and team-building--is the most effective.

For change to really take root, she said, the context and need for it must be communicated clearly to the clinicians on the frontlines, many of whom are already swamped and may not have much time to explore new initiatives. “That’s a more difficult and ambitious challenge,” Daniels said. “We’re dealing with highly-trained professionals who are time-starved.”

Without that communication, though, there may be staff members who find change hard or even unneeded, she said. Effective communication while building your organizational culture also eliminates mixed-messages and will allow leaders to hear and address concerns from clinicians and other frontline staff, Randal Hundley, M.D., medical director for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arkansas, told NEJM Catalyst.

Hundley said leaders who take time to communicate cultural and protocol change with other staff make it clear to them that the team is something “that’s bigger than themselves.”

- here’s the post