Getting a hospital’s entire medical staff on the same page is no easy task. With so many competing interests, sometimes it seems like providing great patient care is the only thing everyone can agree on. Financial matters can make achieving alignment even more difficult, particularly when it comes to call pay, which can create perceived divisions between specialty groups and with hospital administration. Thankfully, there is a way for hospitals to improve alignment while simultaneously addressing the challenges of rising physician spend. Here’s a look at the underlying issues that make achieving alignment so difficult and how hospitals can overcome those hurdles.
Aligning staff with hospital objectives
Traditionally, the relationship between hospital administration and medical staff has been a contentious one. It’s the natural outcome of a system in which private practicing physicians are motivated by self-interest while hospitals have an obligation to maintain profitability and regulatory compliance. The division between hospitals and physicians has only been exacerbated in recent years by dwindling reimbursements and the passage of EMTALA.
To recoup some of their income lost to shrinking reimbursements, physicians have negotiated for increased call pay, reinforcing the idea that physicians and administration are in direct opposition to one another. This has created a climate of distrust in which it feels nearly impossible for hospitals and medical staffs to achieve alignment on key strategic objectives.
Alignment between specialty groups
While the division between medical staffs and hospital administrations has long been a challenge, the call pay issue is also creating greater rifts between specialty groups. In many hospitals, specialty groups negotiate their call pay individually, making it feel like they’re competing with other specialties for the same call pay dollars. They’re not wrong. Administrators can only allocate so much of their budget to call pay and remain financially viable. This pits specialists against each other, creating tension, distrust and jealousy. A lack of transparency surrounding the process leads staff to believe there are “haves” and “have nots,” even if that might not be the case.
Achieving medical staff alignment
Creating a culture shift within a medical staff requires a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of tension and distrust. That’s why MaxWorth Consulting Group developed the Call Pay Solution®, designed to improve alignment by breaking down barriers between hospital administration and physicians, and between specialty groups.
One of the main components of the Call Pay Solution®, the Physicians’ Call Committee™, brings together physicians from a wide range of specialties to negotiate call pay rates based on a “fairness standard,” not solely on fair market value. This brings a level of transparency to the process that helps eliminate the divisions between specialty groups. The simple act of inclusion gives physicians a venue to express some agency and self-determination, which helps them feel more aligned with the hospital’s strategic objectives.
The second part of the Call Pay Solution®, the Physicians’ Advantage Plan™, uses a unique benefit to motivate physicians to remain with the hospital. This helps lower physician turnover, creating a consistency in staffing that can be critical for achieving long-term strategic initiatives. With the right funding design, hospitals can actually recoup some of their call pay expenditure, freeing funds to improve alignment in other ways.
For most hospitals, financial issues and staff culture issues go hand in hand. By changing the way you address call pay and the surrounding challenges, you can increase transparency and trust, and ultimately achieve greater alignment within your medical staff.
Are you ready to improve your hospital’s culture and achieve alignment among your physicians? Contact MaxWorth Consulting Group or read our white paper, “Increasing Hospital Profitability: How to use creative solutions to curb physician spend,” to learn more.
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