Physician Perm January 18, 2018

How to Develop Collaborative Relationships with Hospital Leaders

Physicians & Administrators: Collaboration is Key

Physicians and hospital administrators don’t always have perfect relationships. With all the demands placed on them in today’s healthcare environment, it’s easy for physicians to get distracted and lose sight of what matters most to administrators—and vice versa.

Plus, the two groups tend to have different areas of focus. Physicians are focused on taking care of patients, while administrators are more focused on the operational aspects of running the business.

Despite their different roles, it’s critical that physicians and leaders build a partnership based on mutual trust. Collaboration and trust are key, according to guidelines released by the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association in 2015. The joint document, entitled “ The Principles of Integrated Leadership for Hospitals and Health Systems,” points out that clinicians and hospital leaders must be able to trust each other’s abilities and intentions.

Hospital executives and physicians can have good working relationships if they put the right kind of effort into working together. Here are four ways that physicians can do their part:

1. Build open channels of communication.

Do you speak regularly with the administrators and leaders in your organization? If not, now’s the time to work on that goal. Even if you are new to the hospital, it’s important to talk about how you can work together and make sure you understand each other’s concerns. And ask if you can schedule regular times to check in. Use whatever channels of communication work best for both of you—the phone, email, impromptu meetings, etc.—to maximize the opportunity.

2. Be clear about what you need to do your job well.

As a provider, you know better than anyone what you need to deliver excellent patient care. Do you need additional opportunities for continuing education for yourself or your staff? Does the current staffing set-up make sense? Are there problems with the electronic medical record system you’re using? These are the sorts of things that you want to discuss with administrators to make sure you’re able to be the best care provider you can be.

3. Get involved in the decision-making process. 

A great way to make sure that you and the administration are on the same page is to get involved—or get other physicians involved—in the decision-making process in your organization or health system. You can contribute input from the perspective of a physician in the strategic planning process, or other boards or committees that make decisions. And you’ll get a chance to learn more about the perspectives and concerns of others in the organization.

4. Invite hospital leaders to join you.

When was the last time anyone from the C-suite or board of directors joined you on rounds or visited you on a unit? If you can’t remember, or if the answer is “never,” it’s time to invite your leadership to join you. A growing number of healthcare organizations have embraced this opportunity for hospital leaders to get up close and personal with their physicians, nurses and other staff.

It will take time to build a good relationship between physician and administrators, but it’s worth the effort.  Research shows that patient care benefits from good relationships between physicians and management.

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