Engaged AND Aligned – By: Mary Ellen Pratt, FACHE, CEO
Hospitals and physicians have always had to work together, but our working relationships have changed over time. Years ago hospitals were chiefly interested in making sure physicians were satisfied with the services they provided in terms of ease of scheduling procedures, turnaround time on test results and access to the tools and equipment they need to practice medicine. We conducted physician satisfaction surveys to identify how we could improve services and meet their expectations.
When markets became more competitive and physician recruitment/shortages became challenges, hospitals expanded satisfaction surveys to start measuring physician engagement in order to ensure physician retention. Engagement extends beyond meeting expectations of services and having access to the state-of-the-art equipment. Engagement measures how physicians feel about the hospital work environment, their emotional experiences and their attachment to the workplace. It is proven through research that engaged physicians provide the best patient care. It’s like the old adage “you have to be happy before you can make someone else happy.”
Health reform debates heightened awareness of the need for greater value in the health care Americans receive, but value is not just about cost. It is also about the quality of the care delivered. To achieve the highest quality, solid clinical collaboration with physicians is crucial. To truly deliver first-rate, efficient, effective care, hospitals’ passionate alignment of physicians is essential. With this, hospitals are adding measures for physician alignment to surveys which evaluates physician involvement and influence in the vision, strategies and success of the organization. It measures the close working relationship between hospital leadership and physicians.
Engagement and alignment are not interchangeable. By measuring both, organizations gain insight into whether physicians are likely to stay, as well as if they will support strategic initiatives.
St James Parish Hospital recently conducted a Physician Engagement and Alignment survey with Press Ganey—the largest provider of these surveys. Their benchmark draws on a database of over 2,000 healthcare organizations and over 73,000 physicians. Our results were outstanding and statistically significant. Our ranking was in the 97th percentile nationwide for physician engagement and 99th percentile for physician alignment. Nationwide, we have some of the most engaged and aligned physicians. Our physicians are extremely committed to our hospital and as a team, we have the same goals for providing the best quality care for our community.
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