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What Physicians Want

March 27, 2019

In the early 90s, relationship counselor John Gray published the best-selling Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, metaphorically attributing the seemingly insurmountable hurdle of knowing what the opposite gender wants to the simple fact that men and women are from two very different planets. If you find yourself more easily knowing what men or women want out of life and love than understanding what physicians want out of a hospital, it’s possible you and your physicians are worlds apart.

Just as stronger communication is the best way to find out what your spouse wants, the best way to know what physicians prioritize is by asking. In PRC’s 40 years of healthcare research, we’ve collected data from hundreds of thousands of physicians across the nation, finding clear communication patterns for physicians working in any type of hospital, whether it’s rural, urban, northern, midwestern, for- or non-profit. Ultimately, the data reveal that physicians across the board all want good working relationships with their leaders and a hospital passionate about serving the patient’s best interest.

Through thousands of Key Driver Analyses, reflecting the views of physicians of all specialties, we see over and over that “Administration” has the largest capacity for impact on physician satisfaction and engagement. Though a seemingly difficult obstacle to overcome, this can be addressed with a two-pronged approach:

1) Physicians most want to work with hospital leaders—at both the c-suite and departmental levels—who are responsive to concerns affecting patient care.

2) It is critical that this responsive leadership team involves physicians in the hospital’s decision-making processes.

Responsiveness can take many forms, but boils down to leaders demonstrating action and strategic, thoughtful communication. For example, physician engagement studies sometimes reveal that physicians report that their hospital has little concern for patient safety. Upon seeing these results, hospitals may quickly begin an exhaustive effort to strengthen patient safety measures, pouring both time and financial resources into patient safety, ensuring that it’s a clear priority for the organization.

Too often, however, the hospital wasn’t lacking in patient safety in the first place. In fact, the real issue stemmed from physicians simply not knowing about the measures taken to ensure safety and privacy. Avoid miscommunications and misinformation by instead putting resources into offering clear top-down communication with caregivers. In addition to alleviating misinformation, this effort will also signal the responsiveness from leadership that physicians admire.

Further, this communication helps to foster better decision-making. Why spend millions of dollars on an MRI machine with all the bells and whistles only to find that the caregiver staff would have preferred an entirely different type of bells and whistles? Through this and countless other examples, it’s clear that ultimately, physicians report that they highly value how patients are treated. Following close behind the importance of administration is nursing, both in respect to how nurses treat patients and how nurses collaborate with physicians.

To learn more about what physicians want and how to develop high-performing teams, join us at the 2019 PRC Spring Summit in Indianapolis, where Trevor Turner, MD, FAWM presents “Creating High-Performing Teams: Bridging the Gaps between Physicians and Staff.” Together, attendees will consider how sharing perspectives and setting goals can build camaraderie and develop strategies for healthy communication and embracing conflict.