Best Practices: Engage Physicians in Strategic Planning, or Fail
Strategic success has never been more dependent upon physicians. In a market with increased accountability, your system’s future will depend on the ability of your physicians to deliver better, more efficient care and manage to metrics. Engaging doctors to gain their understanding of the market’s trajectory, insights into how to respond, and support for strategic initiatives has become critically important.
HSG routinely focuses on this issue. In fact, our key differentiator in strategic planning engagements is the level of physician engagement we recommend. Our observations on best practices are as follows:
- Engage physicians directly in the strategic planning leadership through broad physician representation on the Steering Committee. We recommend a committee of up to 13 individuals, with 5-7 of those being physicians. This helps capture the knowledge of physician leaders, ensures recommendations that can be implemented, and gives you advocates among the medical staff to accelerate acceptance.
- Engage more physicians in the planning process through a Physician Advisory Committee. This larger group of physicians can advise on all issues directly impacting physicians, getting into the tactics about placement of physicians, details of specialties needed, and physician alignment efforts that should be implemented. And, again, their input and support will enhance the acceptance of the priority strategies across the medical staff.
- For most health systems, a lot rides on the success and evolving capabilities of their employed physician network. The network is the venue for most new recruitment and locus of the primary care strategy. It also represents the best chance for transforming care delivery. Tying the group and system strategies together is mandatory. Ensuring participation of physician leadership of the group in the development of the group’s strategic priorities and supporting actions is time well spent.
- Physician involvement in the development and growth of important service lines, those prioritized in the strategic plan, is also beneficial. Growing the capabilities and market share of a service line is greatly enhanced when physician engagement is maximized. Physician input into the building blocks of a service line and the realities around the flows of patients is invaluable. And, ongoing, engagement of physician leaders in service line leadership dyads is part of the strategy you should build.
In addition to these areas of focus for physician engagement, there are other opportunities for physician involvement. Inviting input through interviews, online surveys and focus groups are examples.
Ensuring physician leadership participation in building the plan is step one. Equally important is defining roles for physicians in plan implementation. Their involvement will pay massive dividends as the focus shifts to implementing the strategy. Given the very high stakes of strategic decisions and the growing complexities of implementation, it is easy to see why HSG is committed to physician engagement at this level.