By David W. Miller, FACHE
For most of us, 2021 cannot get here soon enough. The mess that has been 2020 has seen executive time absorbed with COVID-19. Strategic issues at the core of your health system’s long-term success, including building an employed physician network that can produce value and manage risk, has been pushed aside by current realities.
As we look forward to 2021, there is no better time than now to make some resolutions related to your priorities for your employed network. Our book, Employed Physician Networks: A Guide to Building Strategic Advantage, Value and Financial Sustainability, published by the Health Administration Press in December 2018, provides a roadmap for setting those priorities. Below are five items to add to your list of resolutions for the new year.
Resolution 1. Resolve to create a shared vision with your physicians that is mutually beneficial to the health system and to the physicians. HSG’s research shows that failure to do this is one of the two biggest reasons groups struggle. If you do not know where you are going or what success looks like, it is easy to see why the group will be embroiled in conflict and exhibit dysfunction. Creating this vision is the first step to building a clear plan and getting all the stakeholders on the same page. Resolve to develop that vision.
Resolution 2. The second most significant barrier to success with employed networks is the lack of a robust infrastructure to manage and propel the group. In the early days of physician network development, this often means adding managers with practice management expertise. It means engaging physicians in executive roles to gain their perspective in decision-making and enhancing your ability to sell decisions to employed providers. It also means having the data infrastructure and care management resources to flourish under risk contracts. You should resolve to understand the resources needed to make the group successful and ensure they are available.
Resolution 3. Understand the root cause of your losses in the network. Many executives and boards struggle with network losses. But without having a detailed understanding of the factors driving that performance, improvement is elusive. And it is impossible to collaborate with physicians on solutions if you do not have a common grasp of the challenges. Resolve to complete an assessment that gives you the knowledge needed to take corrective action.
Resolution 4. Engage physicians so they can help you shape the future and deliver results. The need for engagement is integral to the long-term development of the employed network. It is hard to be successful in the market if you are not tapping into their knowledge. Resolve to engage physician leaders, and ask them to engage their peers.
Resolution 5. Adjust your physician compensation plan to better align with the objectives of the organization. We see clients incorporating nonproductivity metrics and changing the compensation plan to incent care management, among other changes. Likewise, CMS changes to wRVU values are driving some systems to change. Resolve to align compensation plans in 2021 in cooperation with your physician leadership.
You can add the book, Employed Physician Networks: A Guide to Building Strategic Advantage, Value and Financial Sustainability, to your 2020 Christmas list and resolve to read it in 2021. Next year must be a better, more stable year for your health system. It can also be a year in which you set the stage for your physician group to be a strategic asset. Fulfill these resolutions, and you will be well on your way.