How to Get Physicians Committed to Organizational Change and Improvement

Most hospital administrations and their physicians are moving through a crisis mode with the recession, healthcare reform, and a starting physician shortage. Now is the time to get back to basics.

The success of any healthcare organization depends on its physicians, and the collaboration between the organization and the medical staff. In the presence of an aligned partnership, job contentment is higher, patient care is better, and physicians prosper in an effective workplace where they take care of patients, conduct research, or provide their diagnostic skills.  Performance increases all around as the quality of life and work in the entire system improves.

Your organization can build a committed, collaborative relationship through the following steps:

1.  Share the visioning process and communicate goals with medical staff regularly. Getting physicians aligned with your organization must begin with clear communication of the organization’s vision. Many healthcare systems have well-defined mission statements, which can be a complete waste of time and talent if they are not thoroughly communicated, agreed upon, and understood by those who carry out the tasks. This vision must connect with the goals of physicians and their teams to create a strong working community.  Healthcare leaders can build consensus by: inviting physician leaders to actively participate in the creation and/or refinement of the organizational vision; communicating this vision to the medical staff repetitively through multiple channels; and selecting organizational goals in support of the shared vision and in alignment with what is important to the physicians.

2. (Re)Gain physicians’ trust and confidence.

Loss of trust and collaboration with its physicians causes many healthcare systems to not live up to its vision and potential, while also being a major threat to future competitiveness and survival of the organization. Both the administrative leaders and physicians want to improve quality, service and safety, but each team stands idle with mutual suspicion of the other. Many physicians have lost faith in administrative leadership (and vice versa) making it imperative that both groups take steps to regain trust and confidence in each other to build a foundation for collaborative partnership and mutual success. Healthcare systems can create conditions that allow, engage and inspire its’ workforce to deliver on the vision and that strengthen trust by:

  • Acting with integrity. To regain confidence, both parties have to be trustworthy and honest in their communication and actions.
  • Strengthening the fundamental belief in the value of their medical staff and treat them accordingly.
  • Building a culture of respect. Executives need to view medical staff as equally important as profits, and create a culture in which everyone is valued for passion, creativity, and a desire to be part of a community.

3. Support physicians’ leadership and executive development.

While medical school prepares physicians to successfully overcome a wide variety of clinical challenges, many have not been supplied with the basic principles of teamwork, leadership, communication, and business concepts.

Developing these skills in physicians is an organizational investment in the most important player in the healthcare system. This provides physicians with the tools to successfully navigate change, understand organizational decisions, communicate with their staff, administration and patients, as well as establish a more balanced and fulfilled life.

Even though healthcare organizations are being forced to trim operating expenditures in these hard economic times, they must be careful not to cut the legs out from under the organization while doing so. Physicians’ behavior, attitude towards the organization, along with their interpersonal and self-management skill determines the profitability and success of the healthcare system.

For hospitals to gain a competitive advantage to attract high-level physicians to their organization, they have to have a vision in place that excites physicians to work for them, they have to maintain trusting partnerships, and they have to have programs in place that support the well-being and the success of physicians.


Iris Grimm is the creator of the Balanced Physician coaching and training programs designed to improve physicians’ leadership, performance, and work-life balance. She can be reached at 770-428-2334 or at

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