Integrating Physician Leaders: Creating Agile Organizations
The emerging healthcare environment has changed the game for healthcare organizations and for physician leadership. The turbulence of that environment will require what could be called “agile organizations.” Whether the challenge is growth and the integration of physician practices, creating Patient Centered Medical Homes or Accountable Care Organizations, developing integrated delivery systems or improving cost and quality, agility will be key. Agile organizations are going to rely more on physicians in formal and informal leadership roles and in much more collaborative relationships with administrative leaders. Physician leadership is the missing piece for most healthcare organizations, whether they be systems, hospitals or large physician practices. Fortunately, there are four clear strategies for building webs of aligned physician leaders that can effectively partner with administrative leaders.
The elements for success include:
1. Design the leadership web – matching three distinct types of leadership roles to the key work of the organization and matching physicians to those roles.
2. Recruit the best talent to the roles and create flexible
compensation plans – recruiting internally and/or externally and either building internal talent or buying external talent. Match the roles and recruiting requirements to compensation plans while conserving resources (don’t throw money at it).
3. “Prepare the ground” for the physician leaders – ensuring the networks of work relationships necessary and the availability of the resources required.
4. Develop leadership capability following the 80%/20% rule
– allocating 80% of attention and resources to carefully customized just-in-time, on-the-job-training and 20% to formal “pipeline” programs/ institutes. AND – Be worthy of the Physicians Who Say “Yes” to Leading – execute the four strategies with discipline and commitment with no wavering. This is the meta-strategy. If these strategies are successfully executed then the answer to the question, “Are there enough physician leaders to make the difference in today’s healthcare environment?” is “Yes.”
Physician leadership development is really about taking healthcare organizations to the next level of performance.