What Do Doctors Want from Your Organization? (Part 2 of 5)

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Last Thursday, we began looking at this article by Karen Minich-Pourshadi from the March 2013 issue of HealthLeaders magazine that takes an in-depth look at why doctors are increasingly seeking hospital employment and how a healthcare organization can make the best decisions about which physicians they’re hiring.

First, it’s important to understand that there are several reasons why private-practice physicians are seeking hospital employment. The most obvious reason is the reimbursement cuts that are taxing their practices beyond measure and increasing paperwork and expenses, especially with the EMR requirements that are on the table.

Because of these obstacles, Minich-Pourshadi writes, the medical-staff model in which healthcare organizations forge partnerships with independent physicians is becoming a relic of the past. According to one statistical study, the model will only be used by 50 percent of all organizations in the next three years, compared to the 67 percent that use it today.

Naturally, physicians young and old, inexperienced and experienced, are frantically exploring their other options. Many don’t want to be in private practice. They need security and balance.

The question is, which one is best for you to hire, the younger physician or the older physician? Minich-Pourshadi explains there are many pros and cons to either hiring decision. For example, hiring more experienced doctors might seem like common sense, but “friction can arise if the hospital’s goals compete with the physician’s.”

You, as an organization, are looking at the hospital through a dual lens: the care side and the business side. It’s easy to forget how personal a physician’s goals and objectives may be, the article explains, especially if you’re thinking about service-line gaps, reducing redundant testings, broadening your network, improving patient referrals, bolstering care coordination, etc.

In fact, autonomy and financial security may be most important to these docs, while the organization’s goals are less important. Remember, they’ve been in private practice for years.

Brit Berrett, Ph.D., president of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, explained, “Some of these physicians want to slow down and have some more personal time, but what we find is more often the physicians who have been in practice for a while want to concentrate on the complexities of medicine and don’t want to deal with the changes to the revenue cycle and the billing. Gone are the days when the physician’s spouse could do all the billing. These folks are coming to us to provide the backbone and infrastructure they need to keep their focus on practicing medicine. They want to use their MD and not have to get an MBA to do it.”

On the other end of the age spectrum, the younger, “newly minted” physicians are probably less idealistic about goals, objectives, and status and more worried about achieving a work-life balance within the context of providing the best patient care. Simply put, the idea of working an 80-hour week is not appealing to them.

Berrett told Minich-Pourshadi, “The new generation of physician has significantly different expectations than physicians of the past. These physicians have a tremendous desire for work-life balance, and it seems the lion’s share of these new physicians prefer the stability of being part of a bigger system.”

He recommends “recognizing the mind-set of the generation you’re hiring” and not overlooking the generational factor in your hiring decisions.

What are some of the reasons the physicians that you’ve encountered are leaving their private practices for hospital employment? What does your organization offer that would attract them and provide the kind of work environment they’re seeking? Have you noticed a difference between the goals of younger and older physicians?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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