Paul D. Taylor MD, Chief Medical Information Officer at Wellcentive outlines 3 solutions for overcoming barriers to physician engagement
Physician engagement is one of the most important factors affecting the success of a Clinical Quality Improvement (CQI) program. Unfortunately, it is sometimes a challenge to get physicians on-board, so I will talk about how you can help your physicians get with the program!
As I said in the first post in this series,
“Ambulatory clinical quality improvement programs need to be driven by physicians and their staff members if maximum improvements are to be seen.”
If physician engagement is so important, why are some physicians reluctant to actively participate with a CQI program? Physician naysayers are usually rather vocal on this topic (shocking, I know), so let’s discuss some of the most important barriers we encounter and how you can help your physicians see the light:
“I don’t need to change.”
We hear this a lot, and it is arguably the most difficult to address, because a transformation in thinking and care delivery is needed. As I said last week, a successful CQI program has both point-of-care and population management components. Many physicians think that because they nail the point-of-care part they don’t need to think about their patients as a population. If you take great care of each patient at every encounter, then your patient panel must be in fine shape, right? Wrong.
You don’t really know how your patient population is doing until you peel back the covers and really look. When they see the data, most physicians are surprised that their outcomes aren’t better.
The Solution: Show your physicians their outcomes! Make them see where improvements can be made and how they stack up against their peers.
“I don’t trust the data.”
Of course, the first reaction a physician will have when you show him or her a suboptimal outcomes report is, “Well, obviously the data is wrong.” End of story. Done. Finished. Thanks for stopping by.
The Solution: Before you have the conversation about outcomes, make sure the data used to produce the outcomes reports are accurate, up-to-date, and complete. This requires software that can aggregate and normalize data from disparate systems and a proactive data management program, which usually involves the electronic receipt of Actionable Data from various clinical and administrative sources. More on data management in future posts.
“I don’t have time.”
Let’s face it. Physicians are busy! There are ever increasing demands on our time, especially for non-clinical activities that don’t seem to benefit anyone (Don’t get me started!). Asking physicians to do one more thing is a tall order.
The Solution: Design your program to engage office staff members to help with the CQI process. Staff members can ensure gaps in care are filled at every patient encounter, including simple prescription refill phone calls, using standard protocols “blessed” by the physician. A Quality Manager can help lead the charge and organize the process, and this all means less work for the physician as well as improved outcomes! More on this later.
There are other barriers, of course, like not wanting to use technology, staffing concerns, impending retirement, etc., and some of these will be addressed in future posts.
The argument for physician engagement with CQI programs is really quite compelling, so hopefully the information in this post and previous posts has helped you know a little more about how to get your physicians on the bus!