“Alignment” is a trendy word in the healthcare industry today used to describe the concept of various forms of collaboration between hospitals and their physicians to work together to provide exceptional quality care to patients with attractive results. Although this concept is not new, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has brought this concept of alignment back to the forefront of healthcare leaders. The ACA encourages hospitals, physicians and other healthcare professionals to organize Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to share in the responsibility of delivering a broad set of medical services and are held accountable for the quality and cost of care through alignment of incentives. Simply put, it is a strategy designed to increase clinical quality and to control financial outcomes. The assumption is that if hospitals and physicians are forced to share a single reimbursement, they will work together to achieve better clinical and financial outcomes.
Although there is significant debate as to whether ACOs will result in increased quality of care to the patient along with cost savings, the aligning of hospitals and their Medical Staff with the Hospital Medicine (HM) physician practice has a significant impact on the success of the community hospital. HospitalMD has recognized the importance of this concept since its inception, and has designed its organization and practice structure around aligning our physicians with the hospital and its staff to achieve incredible results.
The irony of the relationships between hospitals and physicians is that except for the cafeteria and gift shop, physicians’ decisions, and only physicians’ decisions, generate every dime of revenue.
The irony of the relationships between hospitals and physicians is that except for the cafeteria and gift shop, physicians’ decisions, and only physicians’ decisions, generate every dime of revenue. Physicians individually hold the license to write orders. They are independent and autonomous, even if employed. They also either control or significantly influence the fundamentals of costs. Achieving success with autonomous physicians is imperative to the overall success of a hospital and their HM service. So, how does HospitalMD achieve alignment with the physicians and hospital?
Achieving Alignment with Autonomous Physicians
It starts and ends with communication. Physicians are often accused of not cooperating with the hospital in specific areas. HospitalMD has found that this is often because they don’t have adequate information for informed decisions, and don’t trust because they don’t see mutual benefit for mutual effort. Knowledge and trust are the foundations of cooperation and alignment. Without consistent communication, knowledge and trust cannot be fully realized.
HospitalMD begins the process of alignment through the discovery phase of the proposal process. Understanding the goals and expectations our clients have during the discovery phase allows us to tailor a solution to meet each client’s unique needs. Once we have earned the opportunity to provide our Hospitalist services to your hospital, our clinical team begins working with you immediately. We discuss the performance goals and objectives outlined during the proposal process, learn your current processes, suggest and agree on performance metrics and action plans to achieve those performance expectations, and design a reporting mechanism that allows us to objectively evaluate and share the progress. This sets the stage for alignment between HospitalMD physicians and the hospital once the service begins.
As our clinical team works with you to establish performance goals, metrics and action plans, they are communicating those parameters with our recruiting team. This allows the recruiting team to accurately portray the job and expectations needed to be successful at your hospital. This communication sets the stage of alignment with our physicians before they work their first shift. But if setting the stage for alignment with the physicians was that simple, everyone would be successful at alignment. We must go further to truly align our physicians with your hospital.
Knowledge and trust are the foundations of cooperation and alignment.
Earlier we pointed out that knowledge and trust were the foundations of cooperation and alignment. Although physicians know medicine, they generally don’t understand the business of medicine. HospitalMD provides them with this knowledge through our orientation process and on-going training courses. Every physician must be able to make point-of-service medical decisions that have financial ramifications. HospitalMD invests significantly in equipping all our physicians with financial knowledge to make intelligent diagnostic decisions, and regulatory knowledge to make intelligent revenue decisions.
Physicians that are empowered with knowledge and have trust in the leadership are eager to embrace a mutual vision and work to achieve joint goals.
The trust comes from two sources. First, the physicians must trust that our organization is providing them with the resources they need to be successful in achieving the performance expectations that are set. The second source of trust, and often the most important source, is from the hospital. When the physician is able to trust that the hospital is supporting the goals and objectives that they are asked to accomplish, full alignment begins to take shape. Physicians that are empowered with knowledge and have trust in the leadership are eager to embrace a mutual vision and work to achieve joint goals. This is the essential ingredient of alignment. It takes hard work and dedication by the hospital and its staff, the physicians, and HospitalMD, but the results speak for themselves!
A true understanding, dedication and commitment to alignment is one of the reasons HospitalMD is quickly becoming the Hospitalist management group of choice for so many community hospitals!
Contact us today to learn more!