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Strategies to Put Physicians on the Offensive - Part I

Strategies to Put Physicians on the Offensive - Part I

After reviewing our series of four blogs on physician integration that were posted last April and May, numerous readers have emailed, inquiring whether Royer-Maddox-Herron Advisors has specific strategies to recommend regarding putting physicians on the offensive in support of positive transformations changes in the healthcare delivery processes and procedures. Fortunately, our answer is yes.

Before we enumerate them specifically in this two part series, it seems to us worthwhile to review once again the present state of many of the physicians with whom we are interacting as we work with clients across the nation:

1. Many physicians are very angry with their Local, State, and Federal Governments, Insurance Companies, and the administrators of the hospitals where they work. They see these people and organizations as their ENEMY.

2. Unfortunately, physicians have “no common voice” today. Older physicians think differently than younger ones, specialists think differently than primary care providers, female physicians understandably often approach their practices differently than their male counterparts, and the rapidly evolving “mixed model” of employed physicians, contracted providers, and independent practitioners cause much suspicion, tension, and challenges related to the integration of their different mindsets and cultures.

3. A recent study verified that less than 25% of male physicians and 35% of female physicians are satisfied with their work and profession. The AMA has reported an increase in the “early retirement” that many older physicians are undertaking.

As a result of their “present state”, physicians, individually, and as a group, will often speak negatively with highly charged emotionally driven comments and accusations. They will often suggest that we need to “march on” the governments, insurance companies, and hospital leaders telling them how wrong they are and insist that they change. Their positions are being fueled by the delays in implementation of some parts of the Affordable Care Act, the growing resistance to Obamacare among State and Federal Legislators, and the increasing percentage of the public who are now not supportive of the changes proposed in the healthcare law.

Therefore, it seems obvious that strategies must be developed and implemented so that physicians can respond as well-informed professionals putting forth their positions based on careful analysis of accurate data. The partners at Royer-Maddox-Herron Advisors have used such strategies successfully. Before implementing these proven approaches it is important to create alignment and understanding with your physician audience. It is critical to:

1. Let the physicians know during your interactions with them that you understand why they are angry, and acknowledge that they have some good reasons for their negativity,

2. Let them know that you understand that some of the things being done by the “enemy” do not make logical sense.

3. But, clarify for them that there is a significant amount of poor quality and high cost associated with the current healthcare product, often resulting in the overuse or misuse of clinical resources. They must recognize that such practices are no longer acceptable nor affordable. Hence, changes must occur and they must lead!

4. Let the doctors know that you know they are in the “driver’s seat” and must take a leadership role in implementing the necessary transformational changes related to quality, safety, and cost. They write the orders, they demand the level of labor support, and they utilize the supplies.

5. Reaffirm for them that little good and sustainable change comes from being on the “defensive”.

6. Firmly suggest that they need to go on the “offensive”. Give them concrete examples that have worked in the relatively recent past:

a. Physicians played an active role in getting Tort Reform passed in Texas and other states; and

b. The push-back from many providers, including physicians, was responsible for getting the implementation of IDC-10 delayed.

Now, what are some more specific offensive strategies that physicians should consider? Next week’s blog will address such in Part II of this series.