By Dana Jacoby
The medical industry is more strictly regulated than ever before. Today’s physicians are working hard to meet the demands of value-based performance, and many are questioning their modern role in a fast-changing profession. However, as primary stakeholders, they are well positioned to become agents of change.
Today, we take a look at the skills and best practices that are becoming essential to physician leaders in the evolving healthcare environment.
Expectations: Past and Present
Competent physicians never stop re-evaluating patient care and incorporating new evidence into their treatment plans. They are often cost-conscious, but always mindful of patient safety. Collaborative care teams are quickly becoming standard across the
healthcare sector, but that doesn’t mean clinical leadership roles are obsolete.
Good outcomes still depend on strong leadership.
In years past, practices were on the lookout for physicians with exceptional clinical skills, high patient volume, and an amiable personality. Now there is a stronger focus on obtaining a chief medical officer with outstanding people skills, who is confidently capable of establishing trust and buy-in across a number of multidisciplinary groups.
Management training and advanced knowledge of leadership principles are vital to a doctor’s success and career progression. It’s now common for candidates with recognizable leadership qualities or proven skills to be placed in roles of greater
responsibility within organizations to help them develop and hone their executive abilities.
New Skills Acquisition
Today’s physician leaders are expected to handle increasingly sophisticated matters around clinical integration, quality, safety, performance metrics, and related business measures. As a result, they need a strong foundation in systems theory and analysis, while improving their understanding of the continuum of care, and keeping their IT skills up to date.
Those who strive to become more deeply involved in implementing strategy, financial management, and improvement of quality patient-care outcomes should consider joining and participating in the established professional industry organizations. Doctors often look to the American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL) for guidance.
In some cases, it might be worth studying for advanced degrees like a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA), or the American College of Physicians’ Certificate in Physician Leadership Program.
Promotion of Team Values
The AMA Code of Medical Ethics suggests that a good physician leader will strive to promote team values of honesty, discipline, creativity, humility, and a dedication to continuous improvement. There should be a commitment to transparent decision-making
and active measures to foster a collaborative team culture — where each member’s viewpoint is heard, and everyone shares accountability for decisions and outcomes.
Great leaders should also help institutions to remove obstacles to collaboration.
The AMA stresses that any failed attempt at improvement should be viewed as a learning opportunity. It also emphasizes what it calls ‘transformational leadership’ as a preferred alternative to transactional leadership, which entails greater investment in relationships and a more informal leadership style.
According to the AMA, physician leaders should only make corrections if or when a team member deviates from the standard of care.