Physician Engagement

Most of the articles I read on healthcare transformation, outcomes based medicine, patient centered healthcare and other hot topics have these common threads. They speak of the need to understand the data and analytics behind patient outcomes, discuss the need to standardize on ideal quality measures, and of course, they talk about the need to engage the physician.

It takes four years to get a college degree, four more for medical school, then between three and eight more years for residency, and then a potential fellowship depending on one’s specialty. Let’s just say there is a real potential of taking 16 years to become a practicing physician. As one career website states, “Becoming a doctor requires dedication, and they make a tremendous difference.”(1) At what point do physicians disengage?

The core raw material of a physician is a dedicated individual who likely has the desire to make a tremendous difference. It is reasonable to assume this new physician also wants to reap the reward of investing several hundred thousand dollars in schooling and 16 years of life in that preparation process.

Personality and aptitude tests have never been more popular as society’s open mindedness and knowledge of genetics, brain science, and personality types continue to grow. Not everyone has the same aptitude to be a great soldier, policeman, clergy, counselor, school teacher, or physician. Self-sacrifice, strength of constitution, character, empathy, intellect, communication skills, and other traits are required for these crucial roles – some would say they are ‘callings.’ For anyone who has spent 16 years of their life to achieve and model a career identity they will have for the next 30 or so years, it might be safe to assume they have identified and begun to embody the traits required for that eventual position.

What is a measure for physician engagement and what is the evidence for disengagement?

Physicians have sought mentors and the collective wisdom of experience since time immemorial. Which physician doesn’t want faster time to diagnosis, better care strategies, and faster and better outcomes? What is working in healthcare is the fact that physicians enjoy playing an important role in the healing and improvement of other’s lives. This is the main reason they sought the occupation. Their belief was that years of hard work would be compensated in strong personal satisfaction as a healer, and strong monetary compensation for sacrifices made to attain their goal.

Is poor documentation evidence of physician disengagement? Is lack of following methodological processes that are loosely related to patient experience, or related to an insurance payer requirement, a lack of engagement? We believe that the strong ethos of the physician population within healthcare is still the main driver of our success in healthcare. What is called a lack of physician engagement — meant as a lack of effort on the physicians’ part — is actually a lack of healthcare thoughtfully engaging physicians.

What has grown the healthcare industry and its various eco-systems of devices, pharmaceuticals, and technology vendors is the very strong support of physicians who want to see better and faster outcomes for their patients. Healthcare is a very complex environment with many influencers and players, but on the average, none are more engaged with real interest in a patient’s wellbeing than their physicians. 

We have found physicians are very engaged with any opportunity to improve their practice of medicine for patients they know personally, and where they can do so profitably. This is our focus at Visualize Health and the growing base of physicians we serve.

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 If you know a physician, manage a group practice(s), or do clinical or operations consulting, please consider connecting with us for a conversation.