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In anticipation of National Nurses Week, I dedicate my monthly guest post to them not only because my wife of 28 years is a nurse but also because nurses have taught me lessons about how to be a more caring physician.
I reinforce my previous salute to Nikki, an emergency room nurse in Massachusetts who took me aside and told me, "Just because that was your eighth patient with the same condition doesn't mean that it was her eighth sprain." Eventually, I got over my wounded pride and adopted the perspective that she viewed me as teachable.
The inspiration for today's post comes from an external and an internal source. For the external source, I thank Drs. Kenneth Bertka and Robert Heizelman at Ohio-based Mercy for their post entitled "Leading Physician Engagement: Spanning Boundaries, Communicating Change."
Having had the pleasure of working at Mercy, I assure readers that it is a faith-based system that lives its values daily of reverence for all people, community, justice, commitment to the poor, stewardship, courage and integrity.
The authors wrote the first step to physician engagement entails establishing a direction, achieving shared understanding of goals and strategy around a team approach, and care coordination for optimal population health management.
I hope readers will not think it unprofessional to blog about vacation. I receive some of my best insights in a more relaxed, reflective setting.
After New England snow storms, it felt like paradise to spend time in Cabo, Mexico, with its calendar sunsets and whale watches 20 yards offshore (see left).
What inspired me to write this post was the warm greeting I received from my hostess Nancy at Pueblo Bonito Pacifica every morning, "Hola, Senor Cohn," which has inspired me to improve my service in future interactions with patients.
In my last post, I mentioned four tips for engaging physicians where you work to improve clinical and financial outcomes, as well as create a more satisfying practice environment.
Here are three more recommendations:
1. Any time you hear someone moan, "Getting doctors to do anything is like herding cats," reframe the discussion to stimulate healthy competition.
Take, for example, a cardiac catheterization lab director who inspired his colleagues to decrease clinical variation and cut costs by showing them their data in a blinded fashion, and letting them know that if they did not achieve progress within six months, he would put each cardiologist's data in the cath lab lounge for everyone to see and comment on.1
Within four months, procedure times and outcomes for the entire six-person group were within one standard deviation, and they had decreased their vendors to two and cut costs substantially, all while improving outcomes, as I described in "Collaborative Competition."
Happy New Year. Sometimes, the fuss in Washington causes temporary amnesia that healthcare, like politics, has a local focus. So this post contains the first four tips on ways to engage physicians where you work to improve clinical and financial outcomes and create a more satisfying practice environment:
1. Convene a panel of your top physicians to look at how improved collaboration can reduce expenses.
A surgeon once confessed to me, "I may ignore others' opinions, but I definitely listen to physicians who refer patients to me or to whom I refer patients for preoperative clearance and postoperative management."
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