Physician leaders have their work cut out in reducing unnecessary care

Most physician leaders--92 percent--back the importance of reducing unnecessary care that is not evidence-based, according to a survey conducted by the American Association for Physician Leadership and the Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis.

Leaders may find themselves in a quandary in promoting related waste-reduction and quality-improvement efforts, however, as current methods for doing so are at odds with other priorities and longstanding elements of hospital culture.

"The minute the chief executive officer of an organization--M.D, or not--challenges the medical decisions made by doctors, that's fightin' words," said Paul Keckley, Ph.D., managing director at Navigant. "Historically administrators have taken the position that 'Doctors make clinical decisions. I'm not in that business,' but now they have to be. They have to affirm to the community and to their lenders that the only thing being done in the organization is what should be done based on the evidence."

Moreover, the survey of 2,300 physician leaders suggested the following contradictions:

  • Ninety-three percent of respondents said improving physician satisfaction within the profession is a high or very high priority--a task that can be difficult when physicians perceive administrators as undermining their clinical judgment.
  • Ninety-two percent of survey respondents said increased transparency about quality is an issue of high or very high importance, although physicians and payers don't necessarily agree on what types of measures are relevant and meaningful.
  • Ninety-two percent of respondents said that patient adherence to their treatments is an issue of high or very high importance, yet most physicians don't currently do a great job of measuring or monitoring how well patients follow through.

Despite these challenges, physician leaders are well-positioned to help their teams overcome them, according to Peter Angood, president and CEO of the American Association for Physician Leadership. 

"Physician leaders have the clinical insights on what constitutes good, strong patient care. They have the insights on how to make the system work effectively to deliver that care," he said in an announcement. "As a result, compared with non-physician leaders, physicians who are well-educated with leadership and management training often have the better insights on healthcare and how to run it better."

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- see the survey results