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Improve Physician Satisfaction: Use Dept. Directors & Unit Managers


By Todd Sorenson, Consultant (HCAHPS & Other Surveys), HealthStream

physician engagement

Clients often ask me --

"Now that we have collected feedback from our medical staff, what do we do next?"


"How do we best share and use medical staff results that are obtained using HealthStream's Physician Insights survey?"

My typical response would include the following points:

  • Develop a communication plan that is redundant, using multiple means of communication
  • Communicate the basics of an action plan when sharing the results
  • Continue the roll-out throughout the year, by helping the medical staff to understand where they are in the action planning
  • Provide department directors with feedback for their work areas and encourage action planning to improve experiences for physicians and patients alike

I was recently at a hospital that took a slightly different approach to the last point shown above. The survey results showed that this facility had some issues in a number of departments in terms of how the medical staff viewed the responsiveness of the staff, communication with physicians, consistency of care and service, and teamwork in terms of how doctors, nurses, and other staff work together. As opposed to working on strategies within their own departments, a plan was developed for managers to work together to develop strategies that could be incorporated hospital-wide.

Action Planning With Hospital Leaders and Managers physician satisfaction

An onsite meeting was set up with top leaders and department managers attending. After presenting the survey results with a focus on key drivers of medical staff satisfaction, I talked about best practices that other hospitals are using to improve their physician, as well as patient satisfaction scores. After that, several of the department directors who received the highest physician ratings were asked to talk about their best practices—things that they have implemented that likely accounted for their high ratings. This served as a starter to get the directors thinking about opportunities for improvement that they may not have thought about before.

At this point, an exercise was conducted whereby the department directors put in groups of five or six and tasked to come up with two strategies for the “key driver” survey item they were assigned. For each strategy, the group was asked to consider objectives, responsibilities, and how to audit the directives for accountability. Each group selected a spokesperson to present their ideas to the group. This led to some additional strategies and to some fine-tuning of the ideas that were presented.

Next Steps for Increasing Physician Satisfaction

Using the strategies that were developed by leadership and department managers, the next step was to form a physician satisfaction team that would prioritize the strategies and fully determine action steps to implement the strategies. I encouraged the hospital to form the physician satisfaction team using staff from a number of departments who frequently interact with physicians and to include physicians on the satisfaction team. In addition to prioritizing strategies, the physician satisfaction team will be responsible for communicating improvements to physicians using a number of strategies, including rounding on physicians, email updates, a communication board in the physician lounge, and bulletins in the medical staff newsletter. Senior leaders plan to have regular meetings with medical staff officers to hear about any new issues and to keep the medical staff informed on the progress of initiatives that have been implemented.

Conclusion: Begin Making Change Happen

As opposed to managers working in the "silos" of their own departments to facilitate improvement, I really like the approach summarized above. The actions taken are based on the discoveries obtained from sound research, with action plans focusing on the key drivers of physician satisfaction and engagement. Working in teams is a great way to come up with the best strategies that can be implemented hospital-wide. This type of session has provided the physician satisfaction team with well-thought out strategies to begin making real change that the medical staff wants.

Learn more about HealthStream’s Physician Insights survey.


Helpful stuff!
Posted @ Friday, April 27, 2012 1:37 PM by Susan Denver
Thank you for your comment Susan. By all means report back to us if you try this or a similar approach and let us know how it goes!
Posted @ Friday, April 27, 2012 1:54 PM by Todd Sorensen
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