Could Finance Training Lead to Improved Physician Alignment?

In a thought leadership article posted on The Chartis Group website, co-authors Mark J. Werner, MD, CPE, FAAPL, National Director of Clinical Consulting, and Cynthia Bailey open with a powerful statement:

“Physicians impact every aspect of health system performance. In the value-based environment, it is physicians who must drive the clinical transformation needed to achieve breakthrough quality, experience and financial performance. Success requires powerfully engaging physicians as fully committed “owner-operators” of the clinical enterprise, aligned with system strategy and operational goals. Tepid physician buy-in for changes designed and directed by administrators is no longer enough. If true value is to be created, costs reduced and outcomes improved, physicians must be at the core of innovating and transforming the way care is delivered.”

As “owner operators,” physicians today are as much responsible for the quality of the care delivered as they are the cost of that care.  But unless these leaders also have a business degree to their credit, many may not have the financial acumen to confidently assess and direct investments for improving patient care that will also achieve required financial benchmarks.

It seems Richard J. Priore, ScD, FACHE, president and CEO, Excelsior HealthCare Group agrees. In a recent article by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), Priore indicated that, “Physicians often aren’t given the knowledge, tools, or resources to be good stewards of increasingly scarce resources. But as the industry moves from volume to value, physicians understand that they need to know how to participate meaningfully in their meetings with administrators.

In this same article, Priore offered suggestions for how physicians can gain their financial legs, which also point to ideas for financial training programs:

  • Create conversation confidence by developing an understanding of key finance terms and concepts
  • Set standards for meaningful data by which meaningful cost decisions can be made
  • Seek insight and experience, for example, via mentoring from a finance or operations executive
  • Be willing to ask questions to grow in knowledge about the organization’s performance.

In seeking to create high-affinity physician engagement, developing opportunities for physicians to gain practical finance training might actually help foster physician alignment, especially if they are going to be held accountable for specific financial performance goals. Something as simple as “healthcare finance 101” and a structured dyad mentorship program could be an excellent start to providing the tools they need to do the job well—and gain confidence in the organization’s mission, values and goals.

Need strategies for physician alignment in your organization?  Learn more about Mark J. Werner and Richard Priore’s new seminar, Closing the Gap in Physician Engagement, Alignment and Integration in a Value-Based Environment.

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