By Ann Maloley, MBA
Buy-in from the internal practice team can make all the difference in the success of a practice development strategy. At the start of the hospital-employed physician relationship, there’s a good chance there will be some anxiety about this new partnership – at least until both parties have time to prove their value as a good partner. Assuming the practice development plan comes from the hospital team, getting support from the providers and practice staff is a good place to start earning confidence in the relationship.
Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.
- Henry Ford
Full cooperation and collaboration from the internal practice team begins with an understanding and agreement of the goals. Then, like any team project wanting a mutually beneficial experience, other building blocks include a consensus on the action plan and a clear path for who is responsible for what.
Once everyone agrees that working together is a good idea and the dialogue begins, hospital business development/marketing leaders will likely need to continue to ‘earn’ credibility from the practice. Here are a few other ideas to help cultivate this support:
Invite, listen and acknowledge. One of the best things you can do to earn trust with your new practice partner is ask for their input. They know their practice dynamics and culture best. Staying true to the practice personality will be important, especially if the practice was successful in the market before they became employed. Knowing that you genuinely want to understand their perspective and will factor their input into your strategy is a great step for getting buy-in to your recommendations later.
Ease into it. Don’t risk alienating a newly employed practice by pushing them to change their brand and practice character all in one day. Start with understanding the brand elements that are working and commit to keeping them true. Then make the brand shift a process by taking small steps and getting agreement at each step. It will make acceptance and action easier.
Strategy vs. Tactical Action. Keep in mind that your practice is a process-oriented operation. Their objective each day is to provide great patient care, on time and as efficiently and seamlessly as they can. This is an operationally tactical system. So, when it comes time to engage this team in your practice development plan, think about how they think. Sure, they should understand the strategic thinking that went into it, but they will be most interested in the action plan – the tactics, accountabilities, timelines and expected results. Engage them in the action. Define their roles in their terms.
Regular rounds from executive team. Few things build confidence in a practice-hospital relationship more than an engaged and participative executive team. Give them a role in the process and find reasons to bring them together with physicians and practice staff. Attaching the executive team to your efforts can eventually lead to deeper relationships with the physicians.
Talk about “wins”. Look for opportunities to discuss any hospital-related news that will contribute to the operational, strategic or clinical functions of the practice. Make the connection. And invite ‘good news’ stories from the practice. Encourage them to share their positive patient experiences, for example, and then find ways to talk about it internally and through your practice marketing efforts.
Show progress to drive ongoing involvement. As the practice development plan gets rolling, share the numbers. Strong numbers reinforce the value of the plan; and less-than-desirable numbers will hopefully motivate the team to get better. Work out a way with your legal team to incentivize the practice to reach satisfaction and quality/outcome metrics – to help create differentiators that you can market.
Keep your practice engaged and involved, even after the initial phase. Always remember that maintaining internal buy-in and collaborative support is an ongoing effort.