Is a Physician Leader Right for Your Organization

If you are looking to improve the operations at your healthcare organization, a physician leader may be the perfect choice for you. Sure, you can look to fill an executive position such as chief strategy officer from other industries, but bringing in a physician executive can have immeasurable benefits. This type of leader has experience in the field, understands how healthcare systems work, and can create a bridge between the back of house (management, financial, compliance, and integrated delivery systems) and front of house to make things run smoother and more efficiently.

Benefits of A Physician Leader

There are many benefits to having physicians on your executive team including an improvement in the quality of care, increasing organizational quality, bridging differences, being the face of the organization, and making transitional periods less painful. Let us look at each of these a bit deeper.

A Physician Leader Can Improve Quality of Care

The right physician leader will bring together both leadership skills and healthcare experience. This makes them a completely different type of leader. They will understand quality in healthcare and think of ways in which their leadership position can help to yield changes that improve this factor of the healthcare organization.

The right physician leader will bring together both leadership skills and healthcare experience. This makes them a completely different type of leader. They will understand quality in healthcare and think of ways in which their leadership position can help to yield changes that improve this factor of the healthcare organization.

In fact, a 2015 report by Gai and Krishnan found that hospitals which lacked physician leaders were negatively affected in this aspect. When there were no physician leaders on boards, there was a decline of up to 5 percentage points in the quality of care. A change like this can cause severe disruptions and in turn, lower patient satisfaction.

A Physician Leader Can Increase Organizational Quality

Studies have shown that including physicians in a healthcare organization’s leadership team increases the overall quality and performance of the institution. According to a study by the IZA Institute for the Study of Labor which looked at the top 100 US hospitals, “the best-performing hospitals are led disproportionately by physicians.” It also discovered that quality scores improved by 25% when they had strong physician leaders. The number was even higher when it came to cancer care, where the improvement was as high as 33%.

Studies have shown that including physicians in a healthcare organization’s leadership team increases the overall quality and performance of the institution. According to a study by the IZA Institute for the Study of Labor which looked at the top 100 US hospitals, “the best-performing hospitals are led disproportionately by physicians.” It also discovered that quality scores improved by 25% when they had strong physician leaders. The number was even higher when it came to cancer care, where the improvement was as high as 33%.

A Physician Leader Can Bridge Differences

In the past roles in healthcare were clearly delineated. Doctors dealt with patients, a business manager ran operations, and business executives were tasked with running hospitals and hospital systems. This caused a rift in the system and resulted in misunderstandings, inefficiency, and patient dissatisfaction. Physician executives are able to reorient the system – be it a clinic, a hospital, a health plan or an integrated delivery system – so that his or her medical experience becomes a part of the business dynamics of healthcare.

A physician leader is able to bridge management and healthcare goals to bring them together. Because they understand the challenges faced by doctors and nurses, they are able to bring a human touch to management. They can help steer a leadership team whose primary task may be to worry about the number and explain why a particular choice may seem good but can have dire impacts on the future of care and team morale. This physician leader can take steps to protect team morale, customer satisfaction and – in the long run – financial stability. The idea here is that a physician leader can achieve a balance between health care and the business side of a medical organization.

A Physician Leader can Be a Strong Voice in the Community

As healthcare systems grow, they sometimes need to do community outreach in order to achieve their goals. Physician leaders can be quite helpful in these scenarios. They can be seen in a more positive light than regular leaders, especially when it comes to community outreach and legislative matters with the city or state.

A Physician Leader can Ease Transitional Periods

Healthcare organizations face transitions on an almost everyday basis. There are mergers, buyouts, health care reform, and many more hurdles that medical organizations need to deal with quickly and effectively. Physician leaders can be a perfect fit for these type of events since they understand the situation from both ends of the spectrum and can find solutions to challenges that cause the least amount of disruption.

Skills to Look for in Physician Leader & Executives

Ultimately, a physician who jumps into one of these roles must both manage and lead. Leadership inspires, management makes it so inspiration is effectively put into action. A great leader builds a team so that each member is vested in the organization and its goal.

However, not every physician can be an effective physician executive. At Summit Talent Group, when we are engaged in a search for a physician executive, there are many things we look for, these include:

1. Advanced communication skills
2. Leadership capabilities
3. Strategic planning skills
4. Computer system skills
5. Financial administration skills
6. Personnel management skills
7. Understanding of healthcare systems
8. An ability to learn
9. An ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment

Although most skills mentioned above can be learned, the final two are key to a successful leader. A physician who does not react well to change, one who likes things to be stable and is comfortable with a routine will most likely fail as a physician leader. Clinical practice is quite different than administrative medicine. As such, your physician leader needs to be able to adjust to a role where he or she not only understands the workings of a large system but can adapt quickly and make the changes necessary to help the organization run at its most efficient.

Is a Physician Leader Right for Your Healthcare Organization?

The right person could be. If you can bring on talent that has the right combination or skills to be able to analyze systems and enact the right changes, one who can comfortably switch back and forth between health care and management, the benefits can be priceless. If you are curious to find out if a physician leader would be a good fit for your healthcare organization, contact us.

As Operations Manager for Summit Talent Group, Kyle is the primary resource for preparing client and candidate interview materials and supports the recruiting team with scheduling, organizing travel, and project management. She manages the office administrative function, including client contracts, proposals, invoicing and billing. Kyle also maintains the public website, manages all of the company’s technology and database tools, and researches innovative applications to ensure efficient recruitment operations. She is a graduate of Howard Community College in Columbia, MD, with an Associate Degree in Business Administration.