Open dialogue needed to make physician acquisitions work
“Healthcare is in transition. The physician workforce needs to get into further transition.”
Dr. Peter Angood is CEO of the American College of Physician Executives, a Tampa, Fla.-based membership organization for physicians in leadership and management roles. He has more than three decades of experience as a surgeon, patient-safety advocate, consultant and leader, including past roles with GE Healthcare’s patient-safety organization, the Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum. Modern Healthcare Editorial Programs Manager Maureen McKinney recently spoke with Angood about the benefits of having physicians in the C-suite, strategies for physician integration and how the ACPE and its target membership have evolved over the years. This is an edited excerpt.
Modern Healthcare: Are more hospitals and health systems looking at hiring physicians for the CEO spot or even for other C-suite senior leadership posts and if so, why?
Dr. Peter Angood: Absolutely, there is a huge trend of physicians wanting to be in employed situations overall. And with some of the changing care delivery and financial models going on, a lot of healthcare systems are looking to bring in physicians in not just clinical roles, but administrative and leadership roles as well. This demand in the marketplace is going all the way up into the C-suite level. I think a lot of physicians are aspiring to be in the C-suite, to even be CEOs. And a variety of health systems are looking to have physician leaders at all levels including in the C-suite.
MH: What are some of the driving forces behind that? Is it because we are looking more at clinical quality and outcomes? Why is that clinical background at the C-suite more important now or at least recognized as important now?
Angood: A well-educated physician leader has dual strengths. One is certainly understanding the clinical enterprise. What’s best in patient care and how to work with other disciplines are the issues that create better quality, better efficiency and more reliable care overall. And then they have all those management and leadership skills. The combination is really a powerful force. What the nonclinical leaders have always struggled with, and they will tell you this readily, is they can never quite fully understand that clinical background. So this combination of clinical and administrative leadership strategies really benefits institutions in many, many ways. And we are beginning to see that data come through.
MH: What are some strategies for physician integration and what are some of the things that we have learned over the past few decades about what works and what doesn’t?
Angood: We went through the early 1990s where there was a lot of acquisition of physicians and physician groups. It was just sort of hoping for spontaneous combustion to work and have it all come out nice. And we realized that doesn’t work. So in this iteration of that process, what really is important is for the physician side and the administrative side or the health system side to get together and decide why they want this integration to occur. And then they should move on a common purpose on how best to draw on each other’s strengths and have a set of measures, expected outcomes and business strategies and then follow that plan with open dialogue. That should be an open discussion throughout the startup period as well as in the maintenance period. That open dialogue, common purpose and focus on patient-centered outcomes is driving a better approach overall this time.
MH: What were some of the major topics of interest at this year’s ACPE meeting?
Angood: Quality and safety are still very topical. Everybody wants to continue working on that. A lot of activity around value. People are trying to shift in terms of how do we do the volume-to-value type of an approach. Then there are the areas around engagement and integration. As an organization, we are doing more with thought
leadership. So in our thought leadership forum we really are bringing in a nice spectrum of topic areas that cover patientcentered outcomes, the health services research enterprise, and measurement. We have some patient stories in there as well, and we cover what it takes to be successful in the C-suite and to be successful as a CEO. Healthcare is in transition. The physician workforce needs to get into further transition and that’s what we are really trying to portray.
MH: How has the American College of Physician Executives changed over the years? Who were you targeting before for your membership and who are you targeting now?
Angood: The organization is about 40 years old and historically has focused on that midcareer physician in a hospital who is going into an administrative role. What we have realized is that with the physician workforce overall, all physicians are leaders. So how do we help physicians as a group assume and move into leadership responsibilities? As an organization, we are transforming from student days all the way to retirement. We have the right sets of programs, products and services to help physicians of all types, both informal and formal leaders, have that set of skills to embrace leadership and improve healthcare. Ultimately we use the physician leadership platform. But at the end of the day, it is how we make patients have better outcomes and how we drive a better physician-patient relationship in the process.