Jackson Physician Search featured in Top 10 HealthLeaders Clinical Care Stories 2019

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Survey data collected by Jackson Physician Search was featured in an article that made the Top 10 HealthLeaders Clinical Care Stories of 2019. Below is an excerpt from that article.

4 STRATEGIES TO ADDRESS CLINICAL STAFF SHORTAGES AT RURAL HOSPITALS

BY CHRISTOPHER CHENEY     SEPTEMBER 18, 2019

RECRUITING PHYSICIANS AT RURAL HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATIONS

survey report published by Alpharetta, Georgia–based Jackson Physician Search also includes a gloomy view of the rural physician workforce. “From 2013 to 2015, the overall supply of physicians in the United States grew by 16,000 but the number of rural physicians declined by 1,400. These facts compound the problem that while 20 percent of the U.S. population is rural, only 12 percent of the primary care physicians work in a rural area,” the survey report says.

The survey report, which is based on data collected from more than 150 physicians and 105 rural health system administrators, says four factors were found to be particularly effective in the recruitment of doctors in rural areas.

1. Autonomy: The survey found 43% of physician respondents consider autonomy as a significant goal in their careers. The physician survey respondents say they value practicing medicine without undue influence from executives. “Healthcare professionals—both nurses and physicians—want to have their voices heard, especially when it comes to issues affecting their practice of medicine. Rural hospitals have the advantage here when compared to a large bureaucratic health system,” Tony Stajduhar, president of Jackson Physician Search, tells HealthLeaders.

2. Team-based culture: Physician survey respondents say they enjoy working at healthcare organizations that have strong teamwork and collaborative decision-making. “Culture and fit are widely discussed as important factors for physicians in feeling engaged in the workplace,” the survey report says.

3. Recruit the family: Physician and administrator survey respondents say a family-friendly environment is a desirable aspect of a healthcare organization. “Highlighting the best aspects of the community and involving community leaders in the process will go a long way in demonstrating the community’s value to the physician. Specifically, taking time to ensure that spouses and significant others are engaged in the process can be a deciding factor once an offer is being considered,” the survey report says.

4. Administrator role in recruitment: With physicians ranking culture high as a desirable attribute at healthcare organizations, rural hospital CEOs and other top administrators can be a decisive factor in the recruitment of doctors, Stajduhar says.

“Based on our survey, a well-designed, on-site visit that makes the physician and their family feel welcome and highlights the community culture is the No. 1 factor in picking a practice location. They need to be able to see themselves as part of an active and vibrant community, and to enjoy working in the organizational environment. Painting a picture of the vision of the organization and how they fit into building the future is essential. The senior leadership of the organization must be involved and take a lead role in the process,” he says.

Read the full article here.

Healthcare Administrators: Planning Ahead for 2020

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As the calendar turns to a new year, things that are top of mind for most people are keeping New Year’s resolutions.  Most of us want to achieve things that will make us healthier or happier, but for Healthcare Administrators, there are no resolutions that can help answer the many questions that will dominate the healthcare landscape in 2020.  Here are just a few of the topics that healthcare administrators should be planning for in the year ahead.

Physician Retirements

In 2020, one of every three practicing physicians will be of retirement age.  Considering the ultra-competitive physician recruitment landscape, healthcare administrators have to stay out in front of their staff retirements. Aside from the inevitable quality of care issues and placing additional burdens on remaining staff, physician vacancies created by turnover or retirements are a huge threat to already tight margins. The Association of Physician Recruiters (ASPR) has reported that, annually, as many as 40% of physician vacancies go unfilled. These vacancies can result in up to $170,000 per month, depending on the specialty.

The good news is that healthcare administrators can prepare for any potential retirements and ensure that they don’t incur a surprise vacancy.  In a Jackson Physician search survey, 80% of physicians stated that initiating the retirement conversation was their responsibility, but only 52% felt comfortable doing so. This key piece of information bears repeating, ‘only 52% of physicians felt comfortable bringing up the retirement conversation.’  Create an environment or provide your physician staff with a mechanism that will help facilitate retirement discussions. It may be a simple as sending out surveys or even tasking HR with helping walk physicians through the conversation.  Proactively addressing this sensitive subject may result in creating a transition plan that works for the physician and the organization.

Addressing Physician Burnout

As important as it is to proactively discuss potential physician retirements within your staff, it is equally important to ensure you understand your internal levels of physician burnout.  It would be disingenuous to claim that your staff isn’t suffering from any measurable levels of burnout, especially if you reviewed Medscape’s 2019 survey that found 50% of doctors are suffering from burnout, depression, or both.  The key for administrators is to recognize that burnout is a serious problem and find ways to engage your physician staff in understanding what is contributing to it and collaboratively working with them to find solutions.

According to Mayo Clinic research, levels of burnout are improving as more organizations have developed interventional programs, but experts caution that more organizational change and research are necessary to continue the trend. Not surprisingly, a majority of physicians claim that the maintenance of electronic health records continues to be a major stressor that impacts overall job satisfaction. If administrators could focus on one major topic to alleviate physician stress, they would have to look no further than streamlining their eHR process.

Consolidation Climate

Aside from anomalies in 2004 and 2006, the mergers and acquisitions climate in the healthcare industry remained pretty flat until 2010 and the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.  Since then, consolidations have become the name of the game for both health plans and healthcare providers.  Unfortunately, all of these consolidation activities have not resulted in lower costs for consumers, but the move towards achieving economies of scale doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon.  Several factors are feeding the consolidation frenzy, including record-high healthcare spending, continually shrinking margins, and now the wild card of having a transition to value-based reimbursement as opposed to traditional volume-based payments.  In many cases, the success of these record numbers of mergers is yet to be determined, but it is clearly a focus in the industry to keep considering new partnerships to achieve operating efficiencies, cost controls, and greater flexibility to make capital investments.

Digitization of Healthcare

Administrators throughout the healthcare industry can all point to the amount of money they are spending on technology, but much like the consolidation question, it is unclear how much this digital transformation is benefiting consumers.  In many ways, the healthcare industry is lagging behind the digital revolution that has transformed other industries, but many administrators are betting that continued investments in technology and data will drive a reduction in costs and improvements in delivery.

Currently, data is king in healthcare.  From the collection of genetic information for analysis and insight into potential future risks, down to the plethora of information being collected through digital health apps that are helping consumers manage chronic illnesses and personal wellness.  However, in spite of the investments, healthcare administrators are still hard-pressed to point out tangible benefits.  In a PwC Health Research Institute survey, only 38% of provider executives stated that digital transformation is incorporated in their corporate strategic plans. Further, less than a quarter of healthcare companies employ a chief digital officer.  This is significantly less than in other industries. When asked about workforce strategies going into 2020, provider executives appeared to be responding to their internal lack of technology talent as 33% stated that they would be investing in digital skills and emerging technologies training for their workforce.

As is the case in most years, healthcare executives are navigating several major challenges that are occupying their time and attention.  In 2020, the healthcare industry will continue the shift toward value-based payments and the digitization of information that is woven into every aspect of healthcare delivery.  Physician vacancies will still be a major area of concern that will have to be dealt with through a comprehensive recruitment strategy and a focus on retention.  All of this and more seemingly contributes to another tumultuous year within the industry.

Staying out in front of these issues will be critical for healthcare administrators.  If your organization can benefit from partnering with an organization comprised of respected healthcare industry professionals, contact the Jackson Physician Search team today to learn how we can help keep you ahead of the curve.

 

Physician Wellness Plan

Creating a Culture of Physician Wellness

Physician burnout has been a topic of conversation for several years now, but a related topic that is not garnering nearly enough attention is physician wellness.  

[White Paper] The Realities of Physician Retirement: A Survey of Physicians and Healthcare Administrators

One of the major factors of the impending physician shortage is the aging physician workforce. We recently conducted a survey including practicing physicians…

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Recruiting for Retention in Rheumatology: Best Practices in 2019 and Beyond

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Rheumatology Practice Management December 2019 Vol 7 No 2 – NORM Highlights

Meg Barbor, MPH

Grand Rapids, MI—There is a current shortage of full-time rheumatology providers in the United States, and it is only getting worse. In the next decade, adult patient demand for arthritis care is expected to increase 25% to 50% because of the aging population, and ultimately, the supply will be one-half of what is considered optimal.

According to Michael R. Byman, Senior Director, Jackson Physician Search, Atlanta, GA, and a leading authority on medical staffing trends, successfully recruiting for retention in rheumatology requires that those doing the recruiting first understand what is driving the physician shortage, so they can then set themselves apart and offer competitive opportunities to desirable candidates.

“With current data suggesting we’re primed to face a 50% shortage of rheumatology providers by the year 2030, understanding the competitive landscape is the first step to recruitment success,” Mr. Byman said.

At the 14th annual National Organization of Rheumatology Managers Conference, Mr. Byman provided an overview of the state of the rheumatology provider market and outlined practical recommendations that organizations can incorporate into their recruitment and retention strategies.

Click to read the full interview.

Policy and Politics Affecting Physicians Heading Into 2020

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Regardless of what side of the political aisle you find yourself, it isn’t hard to argue that legislative policies and politics have created a sea change in the healthcare landscape over the past decade.  Now, as we stand on the doorstep to 2020, it is safe to assume that more legislation, driven by politics, will continue being a catalyst for change in the future.  For now, with our sights clearly set on the New Year ahead, let’s examine some of the policies and politics that will be affecting physicians and healthcare in general.

Will Congress pass legislation to address the impending physician shortage?

Yogi Berra once famously said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” When Yogi uttered those words, he was referring to Mantle and Maris hitting back to back home runs, but today it could be attributed to legislation that is stalled in Congress for the third time since 2013.  The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act was introduced in the House and Senate in 2013, 2017, and again in 2019, but has yet to advance any further.  The current iterations of the bill (S.348/H.R. 1763) have received bi-partisan support and are both designed to increase the number of residency positions eligible for graduate medical education payments under Medicare for qualifying hospitals.  Over five years, this legislation would increase the current number of slots by 15,000 and is strongly supported by the American Hospital Association.  Considering the toxic partisanship that currently exists in both houses of Congress, it will be interesting to see if these bills are taken up at some point, once the legislative session resumes after the holiday break.  At a minimum, it might show the voting public that things can get done in Washington.

How much risk does value-based care pose to providers?

The ongoing transition from volume-based to value-based care has been slowly building throughout the past decade, arguably with no consensus best-practice models to emulate. A Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) report states that in the near-term, “providers will increasingly face both upside and downside financial risk in their arrangements with health plans.”

Another challenge that poses a risk for physicians and providers, in general, is how unsettled the variation of payment models still are, as they continue to be reformed.  As both Medicare and commercial payers keep payment models in flux, physicians, hospitals, and health plans are going to be experiencing greater shared risk.

How is consumerism affecting physician care?

While it may have taken longer than in other industries, there is no questioning the impact that consumerism is now having on the healthcare industry.  Much of the impetus for consumer-driven change grew out of the Affordable Care Act, most specifically the creation of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), tasked with studying new models and expenditure reductions. Today, consumers have more healthcare choices than at any other time in history.  From choosing a health plan that best suits their needs to making choices on when and where to seek care.  Consumerism within healthcare is only going to increase, and it is forcing a significant change in the way healthcare is marketed, transparency and structure in the cost for services, and convenience offerings to match patient lifestyle.  All of this places inherent pressure on the physician who is providing care, as the power of the consumer affords the patient leverage and options that may not have existed in the past.

How much will the 2020 election impact physicians?

While it is not in the interests of this space to delve too deeply into the political arena, it is important to look at how the 2020 election may impact physicians.  According to a wide-ranging report on the top health issues of 2020 by PwC Health Research Institute (HRI), it is unlikely that the outcome of the election is going to bring about a massive change in the healthcare industry.  Instead, no matter which party wins, expect regulatory changes and other lesser impactful legislative changes.

Things to be on the lookout for include Medicare Part D reform, drug pricing reform to include transparency and possible linkage to overseas pricing, and additional Medicaid reforms.  One thing that won’t change in 2020 is increased healthcare spending.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are projecting that US healthcare spending will increase from $3.8 trillion in 2019 to at least $4 trillion in 2020.

Although it is difficult to project how much change will be driven by the election, healthcare will be a topic throughout the 2020 cycle as a recent survey by HRI indicated that 71% of adult Americans of both parties are voting for a candidate based on the stated healthcare policies or ideas.

If you are searching for an opportunity that can provide you with more stability in this unsettled healthcare landscape, contact Jackson Physician Search today and let our industry professionals help find your perfect practice setting.

 

How AI and Tech Are Impacting Physicians

How Artificial Intelligence and Tech are Impacting Physicians

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Four Ways Technology is Impacting Health System Administrators

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When discussing artificial intelligence and the use of other technologies in healthcare, it is natural to assume that doctors are impacted the most. While this assumption has merit, the proliferation of technology throughout the healthcare industry is having just as much of an impact on healthcare administrators.  From ethical concerns to financial decisions, technology will be a talking point in health system boardrooms for years to come.  Here are four ways that technology is impacting health system administrators.

  1. Using Data To Improve Care

There is an incredible amount of information currently being collected by healthcare providers, but the question on many administrators’ minds is how to best utilize it to improve patient care.  Some forward-thinking organizations are utilizing the data as research into best practices for clinical care.  Referred to as a learning health system, data analytics are used as part of a larger effort where clinicians and administrators collaborate on ways to present evidence-based information to patients.  This approach is utilized to influence patients in taking a more proactive approach to their own health and also to improve care in the future.

  1. Telemedicine and Beyond

Although telemedicine has yet to be widely adopted, it does hold promise as a way to increase access to care and hold down costs.  Some health systems are taking it a step further and creating virtual care centers, where every patient is evaluated remotely.  Virtual care requires a patient to communicate with their care provider via a video link while the physician gets vitals and other information through an iPad application.  Administrators are wrestling with these technologies to determine how much of an investment to make and how much willingness there is within their patient population to alter the nature of doctor-patient interactions.

  1. Ethics in the Age of Technology

There is no disputing the amazing technological advancements that have been made in recent years.  Things that were previously known only to science fiction movies are now in the mainstream.  Consider the diagnostic enhancements of artificial intelligence, the precision of robotic surgeries, nanotechnology and gene therapy.  What hasn’t kept pace with the technology, however, are the policy and ethical guidelines for utilizing everything technology can offer. Healthcare administrators are lacking the over-arching support that robustly debated and published guidelines provide when tackling the ethical complexities that exist as technology proliferates.

  1. Can EHR Hurdles Be Overcome?

The concept of electronically managing every bit of patient information has turned out to be better in theory than in practice for many healthcare administrators.  And truthfully, physicians aren’t that thrilled about it either.  In a Deloitte survey of 3,000 physicians, only 10% responded that their current EHR system was fine as is.  For healthcare administrators, the technology itself is costly, but the human cost of time and effort to maintain the records dwarf any software costs.  Considering that electronic health records have been around for more than a decade, one would think that the many bugs would be ironed out by now.  Unfortunately, EHR systems were initially built on obsolete technology platforms with very little design consideration and no standardized guidelines.  There may be relief in sight as some technology experts feel that Blockchain technology can be the cure that EHRs desperately need.  Considering the current pain caused by EHR systems, the utilization of blockchain technology for health-related applications bears watching.

Technology advancements are inherently designed to simplify or enhance our lives and create efficiencies in the workplace and the world around us. For healthcare administrators, technology creates a unique set of opportunities and challenges to consider.  And the speed with which technology continues to shape the patient experience and impact the delivery of care puts more pressure on administrators to keep pace and stay ahead of the curve.

If you can benefit from partnering with an organization that has decades of healthcare industry experience, contact the professionals at Jackson Physician Search to learn how we can make a difference.

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Top Issues Challenging Academic Medicine: Seven Key Takeaways from The AAMC Annual Meeting 2019

Along with over 4,800 of my colleagues, we participated in a variety of workshops, round table discussions, and presentations by distinguished healthcare…

Staying Ahead of Physician Retirement

Staying Ahead of Physician Retirements

Much of the recent discussions regarding the impending physician shortage include the reality that by 2020, one in three physicians will be of retirement…

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Click the Get Started button if you’re ready to speak with one of our physician recruitment experts.

How Artificial Intelligence and Tech are Impacting Physicians

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Fans of literary Science Fiction have been reading about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technological advancements for decades.  What has changed in that time is now, things that were once left to the imagination of authors like Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Isaac Asimov, are becoming the mainstream.  Especially in the field of medicine.  As technology grows more ubiquitous, everyone working in healthcare are being forced to adjust to the many ways AI and technology are impacting the industry.

The impact of technology on how physicians perform their duties is perhaps more significant than anyone else in the healthcare industry. Let’s look at five ways AI and Technology are impacting today’s physicians.

Robotic Surgery 

Typically, when considering technology and healthcare, the first topic mentioned is the use of robotics in surgery.  The first documented use of a robot-assisted surgery occurred in 1985, while the first unmanned robotic surgery came in 2006.  Today, more than one-third of U.S. hospitals have at least one surgical robot.  The rapid growth of this technology is creating new challenges for physicians, young and old.  The biggest change for physicians is in learning how to use the latest robotic technology, with none more impacted than surgical residents. Before robotics, residents learned surgical procedures up close and hands-on at the patient’s side.  Now, surgery is performed at a console 15-feet away from the patient, and residents are forced to watch over the surgeon’s shoulder or observe at a second console.  These training barriers have to be overcome for physicians to keep up with the growth of robotic technologies in the surgical suite.

Disease Detection

One area that AI is clearly making a difference is in the early detection of diseases.  For example, over 12 million mammograms are performed annually in the U.S., yet 1 in 2 healthy women are misdiagnosed. When AI is used to translate mammograms, the results are returned 30% faster and with up to 99% accuracy, which has resulted in a reduction in unnecessary biopsies and patient stress due to misdiagnosis.  AI also performs a natural benefit by monitoring the data collected through consumer wearables and other medical devices. As advancements in AI continue to develop, look for the technology to detect life-threatening episodes earlier, leading to better treatment outcomes.

Decision Support Systems

Dosing errors make up 37% of all preventable medical errors.  Researchers found that AI can be used to determine the correct dosage of immunosuppressant drugs for organ transplant recipients, a process that typically included educated guesswork combined with practiced guidelines. AI is also emerging as an aid to clinical judgment and diagnosis.  AI can provide critical information to physicians by combing through the millions of genetic variants of a patient to determine a probability that one of them could cause a particular disease.

Virtual Reality Training

New technologies are used to augment physician training. Virtual Reality (VR) can provide physicians with targeted training on many clinical scenarios.  AI, through natural speech technology, can even respond to questions or challenge decisions made within the VR session.  Similar to how flight simulation transformed the aviation industry, VR is changing medical education and training.  While still in its infancy, the benefits of this immersive training are unquestioned.  VR provides trainees the ability to learn in a simulated, engaging hands-on environment, which allows physicians of all experience levels to learn at their own pace without risk to patient health.

Simplifying Administrative Tasks

One of the most significant areas of promise for the utilization of AI and technology is in streamlining the ever-increasing amount of administrative activities.  New technologies can improve administrative workflows such as charting, ordering tests, and filling prescriptions through the utilization of voice-to-text transcription.  Creating efficiencies like this allows the physician to have more time for direct care and more meaningful patient interactions.

Technology and artificial intelligence are already changing the way physicians are practicing medicine.  As advancements continue across the spectrum of care, the question to be answered will be how physicians can most effectively learn and interact with the technologies to continually improve patient care.

If you are looking to take your physician career to the next level, partner with a firm that can offer a nationwide reach and decades of leading industry experience, contact Jackson Physician Search and speak with one of our recruitment professionals today.

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Top Issues Challenging Academic Medicine: Seven Key Takeaways from The AAMC Annual Meeting 2019

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From November 9th through the 12th, I attended The AAMC Annual Meeting, “Learn, Serve, Lead” in Phoenix, Arizona.  Along with over 4,800 of my colleagues, we participated in a variety of workshops, round table discussions, and presentations by distinguished healthcare industry leaders.  The topics presented ranged from racial and economic injustice to partisan gridlock, and innovative solutions to combat burnout and other healthcare industry challenges.  There are several key trends taking shape in our world, as well as many questions that need to be answered in the coming months and years. Here are seven key takeaways from this year’s AAMC Annual Meeting.

  1. The 2019 AAMC data suggests an even more dire physician shortage of 46,900 – 121,900 physicians by 2032 – we must recognize this presents both a rural AND urban staffing challenge. It’s easy to fall victim to the rural versus urban mindset as one studies the physician shortage challenge. Yet, as we dig further into the data, it’s clear the shortage is affecting all areas. We all must address the HPSAs and other dimensions to find a solution that provides better access to care for all Americans.
  2. Succession planning within academic medical institutions and medical schools – administrators and physicians are on different pages. Succession planning can be a tough conversation, but it is critical for strategic planning and quality patient care. Remaining flexible is very important to physician leaders and physicians when it comes to retirement and succession planning, but neither group can agree on what that looks like. For example, in surveys, 42% of physician respondents would like part-time teaching roles, yet just 70% of the institutions provide that option. It was also interesting to discover that 32% of faculty respondents identified burnout as a retirement factor, yet 57% of the institutions cited physician burnout as the main retirement factor. Also, surprisingly, in spite of an aging population, only 43% of medical schools reported having a formal retirement policy.
  3. Telehealth is now a possibility for all communities, as CMS is releasing new telehealth payment parity in 2020. We can expect that payment parity will result in higher demand and an increase in access points. Today, 95% of medical students are interested in learning more about telemedicine. The technology is clearly becoming a viable, collectible solution, but the unanswered question is facilitating physician training.  With overloaded schedules through UME and GME, the question, “how and when do physicians receive telemedicine training?” is what everyone is asking.
  4. The relationship between the paired leaders of the Academic Enterprise and the Clinical Enterprise impacts everything from budgets, expectations, retention, and culture. As a top-down driven function, trust, communication, and transparency between enterprise leadership groups are more important than ever. Cultivating this working relationship ultimately impacts the success or failure of key service lines and departments.
  5. Trends show that growth strategies should be value-based versus price-extractive, meaning we grow by being better and not by getting bigger. This is done by leveraging cost, quality, and service advantages. The success factors include: an increasing share of covered lives, competing based on outcomes, minimizing total cost, assembling the network, offering convenience, and, of course, expanding access to care.
  6. Will academic medicine soon develop productivity units to mirror Clinical RVUs? This new academic currency is a fascinating subject – and I’m sure other physician leadership consultants feel the same. The biggest outstanding question on everyone’s mind is, “what are you doing with all of the protected time?”
  7. By next year, the United States will have a minority-majority for all citizens under the age of 18 – matching providers to our patient population has never been more crucial. Throughout the next ten years, the overall population will be led by minorities. Tracking and monitoring diversity for providers and leaders, while still maintaining inclusiveness, is a priority and should be considered the norm.

It’s an exciting and volatile time in academic medicine and overall healthcare with continuous transformation on the horizon. Mergers & Acquisitions and consolidation remain at an all-time high, and no one is expecting this trend to reverse.  For now, all of us will be monitoring the different alignments, integrations, and relationships between healthcare organizations and their academic counterparts.

As a physician leadership search consultant, I look forward to helping prepare our leaders for this new normal.  My focus is on navigating the ever-changing healthcare environment and assisting our clients through smarter recruitment and finding ways to increase retention, so they can focus on what matters most – providing the best care for the patients they serve.

At Jackson Physician Search, we help healthcare organizations and academic medical centers to recruit physician leaders. Our innovative process includes rolling well-qualified and interested candidates as they become available versus waiting for a full slate, reducing the number of interviews with cutting edge technology, and providing transparent and frequent communication to search committees. This strategy reduces candidate attrition and time-to-fill while increasing recruitment return on investment. Please contact our physician leadership experts at Jackson Physician Search for more information.

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Creating a Culture of Physician Wellness

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Physician burnout has been a topic of conversation for several years now, but a related topic that is not garnering nearly enough attention is physician wellness.  According to the National Institute of Health, part of the reason is that physician wellness or physician well-being is not clearly defined or measured.  With the spotlight on the issue of physician burnout, now is the perfect time for healthcare administrators to focus attention on creating a culture of wellness within their physician group.

An article published by the New England Journal of Medicine cited a culture of wellness as one of three drivers that contribute to higher professional fulfillment, along with the efficiency of practice, and personal resilience.  The article cites the culture of wellness and the efficiency of practice as organizational responsibilities in addressing burnout, while personal resilience is the responsibility of the individual physician.  Let’s look at ways healthcare organizations can begin creating physician wellness efforts as an approach toward reducing burnout.

Understand what a Culture of Wellness Means

As defined, a culture of wellness includes a set of values, attitudes, and behaviors promoting personal and professional growth, the practice of self-care, and compassion for colleagues, patients, and the individual.  Once healthcare organizations recognize the importance of physician wellness, they are more likely to measure and attend to it with resources and accountability.

Recognize Burnout in Your Organization

While 98% of healthcare administrators recognize that burnout is a problem, most perceive it to be a greater problem outside of their own organization. To understand the levels of burnout within your organization, it has to be measured periodically via the Maslach Burnout Inventory or another similar tool.  It is always better to know how much burnout is impacting your staff and work toward finding solutions.

Designate a Wellness “Owner” 

One key way that organizations can prove that they are taking physician wellness seriously is by designating an individual to own wellness efforts. Having someone who can champion the effort and also have accountability for the development of the plan and associated results, demonstrates a level of seriousness that facilitates physician “buy-in.”

Focus on Continuous Improvement in Workflows 

As important as measuring your internal levels of physician burnout are towards understanding the scope of the problem, it is equally important to understand the contributing factors. Organizationally, it is critical to recognize inefficiencies in workflows and other factors that are causing your physicians the most frustration. For some, it is excessive time spent on EMR’s, for others, it might be appropriate time off after unusually long or difficult shifts. The best way to get a handle on the issues causing the biggest challenges for your staff is by talking about them. Encouraging open and honest dialogue can shine a light on things that need to be changed, but also lead to physician-led solutions.

Skills Building

Everyone handles stressors differently. Some physicians seem immune to pressure situations, while others internalize them and struggle in silence.  Being resilient is a critical characteristic for anyone who has a stressful occupation. The good news is that resiliency can be learned. Putting resources toward developing resiliency skills in your physician staff and implementing other interventions like a strong mentorship program can help your team handle the pressures of the job while facilitating important dialogue and creative solutions.

Creating a culture of wellness requires resources and accountability throughout clinical and administrative leadership. It is not unreasonable to expect that your physicians should attend to their own well-being, although providing them with the tools and resources to do that is critical to a successful approach.  Clearly, strategies to reduce physician burnout are dominating national studies of practicing physicians and physicians in training.  As more research and data becomes available about successful physician wellness programs, discussions about integrating a more balanced approach to combating physician burnout will be more prevalent.

Jackson Physician Search is comprised of a team of professionals with decades of healthcare industry experience.  Contact us today to find out how our expertise and nationwide reach can work for you.

 

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Staying Ahead of Physician Retirements

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Much of the recent discussions regarding the impending physician shortage include the reality that by 2020, one in three physicians will be of retirement age.  Couple that with the associated costs incurred with each physician vacancy, and it is clear that hospital and healthcare system administrators need to get out in front of their physician retirements.  Jackson Physician Search recently conducted a survey of physicians and administrators regarding their thoughts about retirement and how that will impact physician staffing levels.  The survey was followed up by the publication of a white paper outlining retirement perceptions of both groups of respondents.

One thing that was clear throughout the survey results is that physician perception about retirement varies greatly from administrator’s perception of the same.  Here are a few ways that administrators can better prepare for physician retirements.

Understand what is driving the retirement discussion for physicians.

Administrators responded that the average age for retirement at their facility was 65, which is in line with U.S. Census data reporting 63 years of age. Administrators also cited that the main driver for physician retirement was lifestyle (48%), but that the second driver was for health reasons (15%). Physicians, on the other hand, cited lifestyle (44%) as the top reason, but stated financial stability (23%) second, and burnout (20%) was third.

Facilitate the Retirement Conversation.

Contemplating retirement is a big deal for anyone, physicians included.  When asked, 80% recognize that it is their responsibility to initiate the retirement conversation, but only 52% responded that they feel comfortable doing so. Overwhelmingly, administrators responded that they felt comfortable having the retirement discussion with their physicians. That is an important consideration to keep in mind. Knowing which of your physicians are nearing retirement age with the understanding that they may not be comfortable talking about it, a good strategy should be to create an environment where they can openly discuss their plans. Some organizations use surveys. Others have HR provide talking points to assist the physicians in starting the retirement conversation. However it is done; the important factor is to make it a collaborative, comfortable conversation.

Don’t Get Caught by Short Notice.

We all know how long it can take to fill a physician vacancy and how much each vacancy can cost.  One area of great divergence between physician responses and administrator responses concerns the amount of prior notice to be given before a retirement.  Almost 50% of administrators stated that the ideal advance notice was one to three years, while 40% of physicians claimed 6 months or less was sufficient.  With that much of a discrepancy, clearly, proactively having retirement discussions are just as important as developing an ongoing recruitment effort to have available candidates in the pipeline.

Create a Win-Win Retirement Transition Plan.

Up to 40% of administrators responded that they considered full retirement the top priority for physicians.  Surprisingly, only 17% of physicians indicated that they were planning to fully retire, and almost 28% stated that they would work full or part-time somewhere else.  Again, this divergence of opinion re-emphasizes the importance of open and honest retirement conversations. Administrators can be proactive and work on creating a transition plan for each physician’s retirement. Whether it is an offer of flexible part-time hours, taking on telemedicine duties that can be managed around their schedule, or even non-clinical duties as available.  Another important piece of information that came out of the survey is that 50% of physicians stated that they would consider employer-sponsored incentives to start an early retirement process.  That type of proactive approach could be utilized to the organization’s benefit and help to avoid any retirement surprises. When asked if they offered any type of proactive, employer-sponsored early retirement benefits, nearly 95% of administrators responded in the negative.

Retirement is going to be an important topic over the next several years for a large portion of the current physician workforce.  Administrators should take the opportunity to review the Jackson Physician Search Retirement Survey White Paper and formulate a collaborative strategy with their physicians.  Having a clear understanding of each party’s intentions can ease any unexpected vacancies and also allow for a more comfortable transition for the retiring physicians.

If your organization needs the assistance of a trusted physician recruitment partner or wants to tap into the knowledge of experienced healthcare industry professionals, reach out to Jackson Physician Search today.

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Provide Autonomy to Keep Physicians Engaged

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Since the Gallup survey on physician engagement came out in 2015, most if not all hospital administrators made themselves familiar with the information that was collected.  Since then, countless articles have been published highlighting the ways that healthcare organizations can keep their physicians engaged, yet, physician burnout and retention issues still exist, with more than 40% of physicians reporting that they are suffering from burnout.

In a subsequent survey, Jackson Physician Search conducted an engagement survey, using the same Gallup poll questions, but requested responses from both physicians and hospital administrators.  The results illustrated a clear difference between the physician experience of engagement drivers and the administration’s perception of the same.

In their own words, physicians value autonomy and want to be treated fairly and with respect. All three of these factors contribute to physician engagement, and all three are areas where physician perception differs from administrators’ perception. With that in mind, let’s review how physician engagement expectations can be met.

 

Place appropriate emphasis on culture and fit.

More than at any time prior, physicians want to work for an organization that is aligned with their own values.  Current physician shortages have created a very competitive physician recruitment environment, making it increasingly important to recruit and hire physicians who are a good fit for your organizational culture. If your organization does not have a recognizable or clearly defined culture, consider investing the time to find out. Further, it is important to recognize that an engaged physician staff are more productive and generates more revenue than physicians who are not engaged.

Ensure administrative actions are aligned with physician goals.

Physicians care about the patients they are serving.  When asked about the source of their frustration, many cite what they deem to be unreasonable expectations put upon them by executive decree.  There is always a reason why administrators place a goal or expectation on a physician, and usually, there is data to back it up. Where the gap materializes is that the data or reason behind an administrative action is not shared with the physician staff.  When physicians perceive that administrative actions are conflicting with their medical decision-making, any sense of autonomy is lost.  Transparency regarding goals and expectations facilitates physician buy-in and reduces unnecessary stress and burnout.

Cultivate an open environment for feedback and transparency.

The gap between physician perspective and that of administrators highlights the need for improved communication from the top down.  Physicians are trained problem-solvers, and when they are engaged, they can be invaluable in helping to solve organizational issues and other challenges in the workplace. Creating a culture of open and honest communication and feedback can ignite their problem-solving skills and lead to solutions that may be missed without a front-line perspective.

Implement a Physician Leadership development strategy.

In addition to being problem solvers, many physicians are natural leaders.  In a 2019 poll conducted by the Medical Group Management Association, 67% of respondents cited that no leadership coaching was provided to their clinicians. Admittedly, not every physician has the interpersonal skills to be an effective leader or executive.  But, there are many other ways that physicians can be developed to provide effective leadership to a slew of organization objectives. Those with demonstrated leadership skills and abilities should be groomed to take on future roles within the organization. Others, who exhibit different types of problem-solving or leadership skills can be trained to provide specific project-level leadership to help achieve organizational objectives. The key is to tap into each individual’s skill set to develop and nurture their innate skills and abilities.

Create a culture of support.

Too often, healthcare organizations develop a tendency to overreact to regulatory and qualitative burdens. No one will argue that raising the standards of care are important, but to the practicing physician, the regulatory burdens can be crushing.  All of the above recommendations should contribute to a recognized need for healthcare organizations to develop an environment where regulatory and qualitative burdens are met by a collaborative approach.  Together, administrators and physicians should communicate about a collective approach to achieving quality standards and meeting the increasing regulatory burden.

 

The roadmap to achieving physician engagement, while satisfying their desire for autonomy in patient care decisions is hardly different than in organizations across the employment spectrum. Physicians, like most working individuals, want to work in an environment where they are valued, have an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process, and are supported by leadership.

To learn more about how your healthcare organization can improve physician engagement and retention, contact an experienced Jackson Physician Search industry professional today.

 

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