4 Tips for Improving Physicians Peer to Peer Relationship
Practicing physicians and hospital administrators consider themselves highly skilled, well-trained, and experienced team members.
However, their relationships are severely strained in numerous health care organizations. This has brought down the trust between the two to an all-time low presently.
Physicians tend to believe that hospital administrator peers do not understand, or do not care, about the challenges faced when taking care of patients.
Physicians may feel as if they are treated like line production workers with minimum control over their schedules, over their support team, and even in clinical decision-making.
Simultaneously, hospital admin staff may believe that the physicians are not aware of the challenges faced by them in running a complex organization such as a health system or hospital, including management and financial challenges that are necessary to solve for long-term sustainability.
This discord tends to aggravate the key reasons for physician burnout, including:
- Breakdown of community
- Lack of control
- Conflicting values and priorities
- The perceived absence of empathy and fairness
Ensuring transparency and building trust between physicians and their peers can potentially resolve these key burnout elements.
This solution can help to improve professional relationships, promote a healthier work environment, increase organizational and personal resilience and also effectively improve doctor-patient experiences.
Steps to Coordinate and Cooperate between Physicians and Peers
Here is a simple stepwise solution to align physician and their peers on the same page:
1 – Asses the Relationship Status Between Physician and Peer
Before starting, it is highly recommended to evaluate the existing relationship between physicians and their peers. This is important to understand the issue’s urgency and to direct the work better.
Some of the key signs that indicate a decline in a physician-peer relationship include:
- Increased burnout rates in studies
- Increased physician turnover rate
- Mass migration (or hint of migration) of specialty groups
- Lowered ratings on physician engagement surveys
- New challenges against physician support to form effective strategies
- A no-confidence vote for a peer by a physician
If the employing organization finds any of the above signs, it is highly advised to perform a more detailed evaluation. One of the best ways to start this is by evaluating physicians and peers currently in a leadership role.
For instance, you can start a 12-question staff-wide survey with at least 5 major leadership behavior aspects to look for.
2 – Open Communication Medium
Communication between physicians and their peers is usually lacking in most modern healthcare organizations. This often leads to rumors and distrust among the two groups.
As healthcare systems have progressed, it has become tougher for leaders in the administration to be in touch with, understand, and recognize the challenges faced by frontline physicians on a day-to-day basis.
Remember, most decisions made by hospital admin staff and their direct reports have unseen consequences at the front end of the health care system. The resources that physicians depend on to care for patients are highly influenced by the admins’ decisions regarding IT systems, finance, HR policies, and quality initiatives.
Community relations and clinical care are highly affected by the strategic decisions made by hospital admins. Thus, it is imperative to maintain an open and transparent communication channel.
3 – Educate Physicians and Peers on the Other’s Roles
Healthcare professionals, especially C-level executives and members of the board of directors are not usually connected and updated with the realities of actual patient care.
An immersion program can be designed for hospital administrators to learn and experience the challenges and responsibilities that frontline physicians face daily.
This is a great way to bridge the knowledge gap and align the strategies and policies of the health care organization. There, a shadowing/immersion program should be planned for improving physician-peer relationships in any organization.
4 – Build Trust
According to experts, trust changes things for the better as it helps to speed up interactions and lower costs.
When physicians and admins are on the same page, they can interact with each other with more trust. This is an effective way to improve the relationships between employees at any healthcare organization.
Trust is an essential aspect of making prompt and effective clinical decisions where high-stakes, complex clinical cases are concerned. To achieve this, physicians and their peers need to focus on administrator-clinician dyads, collaborative strategic planning, and creating organizational compacts.
A healthcare organization where physicians have a healthy and trusted relationship with their peers is bound for quick success. On the other hand, an organization where physicians and the admin staff are in constant conflict does not have the same potential for progress and may even affect its patient care quality in the long run.