The relationship between healthcare administrations and physicians across America is, to put it mildly, frequently strained. Mistrust and communication difficulties are common, and this is only exacerbating the soaring rates of physician burnout and job dissatisfaction (estimated over 50 percent among all doctors). Every physician out there who has been in practice a few years, will have a horror story of a negative experience they’ve had with a poor administration or administrator.
Having said that, the good institutions are worth their weight in gold. Here are three things that they always do:
1. Constantly engage their physicians
The reality of US healthcare today, is that many of the regulations and requirements which are being foisted on the frontlines, are coming from much higher up the chain—and are not the fault of the administrations who simply have to abide by the requirements. Whether we are talking about a new mandate, process, or an idea for quality improvement—the best administrations will engage their physicians right from the very beginning. They will be open, transparent, and seek maximum input and direction from their frontlines. Even after the change is implemented, there will be a continuous feedback loop. Not a “my way or the highway” approach.
2. Many of the top administrators are still working clinically
One of the biggest mistakes healthcare administrations make is having too many “MBA business folk” running operations, and not enough high level administrators who are clinically trained. Doctor, nurse, physical therapist— the top-notch institutions around the country will have plenty of these occupying leadership roles. Most crucially, many of these will still be practicing clinically, even if it’s just a few days a month. This ensures that they don’t lose touch with the frontlines, and also earn the respect of their fellow colleagues.
3. Have an open door
With the way things are going in healthcare and the tremendous financial squeeze, all organizations need to do their best to ensure they are fostering a positive workplace and have a great relationship with their doctors. Learn from the best institutions that are already doing things right.
Nowhere is an administrative gap more damaging than in medicine. Ultimately, the patient suffers when there is mistrust and a breakdown in communication. Good administrations make it clear that they are willing to talk with physicians anytime, and take on board any feedback. That doesn’t mean that whatever is requested can always be done (limited resources and all). But there is a general sense of openness and desire to listen. All the way up to the CEO. Some facilities even have regular “town halls”—where the top leaders request to hear any feedback, in a comfortable and honest environment.
By Suneel Dhand MD
Suneel Dhand MD is an internal medicine physician, author and speaker. He is the cofounder of DocsDox, a service that helps physicians find local moonlighting and per diem opportunities