Lehigh Med Summer 2019 - 11

L C M E D S O C .O R G

Building on this idea, engagement has been
shown to contribute to overall organizational
performance. For that reason, it becomes vital
as the very structure of health care undergoes
a dramatic evolution. Physician performance is
increasingly tied to reimbursement from payers.
Physicians who are engaged in their work are
more resilient and determined when it comes
to change and can be the make-or-break factor
in a health care system's quality of care and
value for patients.
Lots of attention in the last few years has been
directed to physician burnout, or as some would
prefer to characterize "moral injury." Provider
health is at risk across the country as clinicians
express frustration with administrative overload,
lack of autonomy, and reduced interaction with
patients and peers. This kind of frustration has
impacted physician engagement.
Now that physician well-being has surfaced
as a concern, conscientious leaders at health
care systems and PHOs are working on ways
to mitigate the problem. While moral injury is
not the only cause underlying disengagement,
it certainly is a major contributor. According
to Gallup®, the following four elements have
been identified as critical factors of physician
engagement. As you can see, they incorporate
many of the same issues that have caused
clinicians to feel burned out while practicing
medicine today.
Personal well-being: Focuses on work/life
balance and programs that can promote healthy living
Communication and support: Relates to
communication across the system, and getting the
staffing support physicians need
Scheduling and workload: Time available for
clinical practice and research, as well as having control
over their own schedules
Involvement with leadership: Speaks to
whether physicians feel they play a part in
decision-making related to clinical and
administrative policies

In any conversation about turning the tide
on physician disengagement, two factors rise to
the top. The first is data. At the core, physicians
are scientists and always appreciate seeing the
data behind a decision or why leadership may
be making a certain request. There is also
power in the numbers related to a physician's
performance, particularly when comparing the
results with that of their peers. This information
is available through the kind of advanced health
care analytics available today.
Delivering insightful data directly to providers
can have a highly motivating effect, since the
data can be used to track patient outcomes
and performance with the payers. This is
why organizations who are more successful at
increasing physician engagement are working
together with an analytics provider to keep
physicians informed about their performance
metrics, their patient outcomes, their episode
costs, and overall trends.
Another powerful weapon for stimulating
engagement is financial incentives. This is not
just a bonus. Effective incentives are structured
in a way that aligns with an organization's
overall goals for cost-effective care and quality
outcomes. Such programs should start with
clearly defined, measurable, and trackable
(analytics again) metrics. To encourage the
switch to value-based incentives, the metrics
should be aligned with value-based contracts.
Appropriately, higher performing providers
should earn higher rewards.
Improving physician engagement involves not
just one but many entities. Like all successful organizational endeavors, a physician engagement
strategy starts at the top - with CEOs, presidents,
and leaders - who understand the importance
of the physician voice and its vitality as part of
the structure of the organization.
From there, a hospital or PHO needs to
have strong leadership: individuals who are
not just clinical proponents, but those who can
pool their collective knowledge in the areas of
health care finance, population health strategies,
quality management, and health care technology.

These leaders should be onboard with creating
opportunities for physicians themselves, so they
can contribute and feel as though they are a
valued part of the organization. By including
physicians' ideas and addressing their concerns,
the physicians will regain the autonomy they
yearn for, thus hopefully making them more
productive in their work.
Providing educational opportunities for
physicians and allowing them to express their
point of view are priorities as well. Staying abreast
of organizational policies, changes driving the
industry, and medical news enables physicians to
be more effective providers. Avoiding meetings
that are podium-based, but instead opting for
interactive sessions allows physicians to have time
to express their thoughts and offer input. To this,
add the motivation of a structured incentive
program and the insight provided by analytics
data and you have the basic components of a
good physician engagement strategy. Having
engaged physicians will revitalize providers,
thus leading to better patient care/satisfaction,
quality outcomes and performance in the
value-based contracts.
The ability to envision and implement this is
more important now than ever. Experts contend
that the organizations who are likely to succeed
in a fee-for-value health care system are those
who have prioritized this issue and placed time,
energy, and effort into the engagement and
well-being of their physicians.
Nicole Sully, DO, Associate Medical Director of Quality,
Valley Preferred
Dr. Sully is a family medicine physician practicing at
Parkland Family Health Center, Schnecksville, Pa. As
Valley Preferred's Associate Medical Director of Quality, she
oversees the Achieving Clinical Excellence® (ACE) program,
which incentivizes physicians for meeting performance and
quality measures aligned with contracted payers and Valley
Preferred goals.
Valley Preferred is a clinician-led Preferred Provider
Organization (PPO) formed in 1993 by Lehigh Valley
Health Network and the Greater Lehigh Valley Independent
Practice Association, Inc. The organization is dedicated to
supporting member physicians through education, collaboration, analytics, and with financial incentives tied to quality
measures through the Achieving Clinical Excellence® (ACE)
physician incentive program. Valley Preferred continues
to develop and implement innovative programs and form
relationships to improve health care delivery and increase
health care value across the region. Visit valleypreferred.com
to learn more.
SUMMER 2019 | Lehigh County Health & Medicine 11

http://www.LCMEDSOC.ORG http://www.valleypreferred.com

Lehigh Med Summer 2019

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