New Solutions for Physician-Hospital Integration

The imperative in healthcare today is to rapidly and significantly improve quality and reduce costs. While this goal is easy to articulate, it is incredibly challenging to execute—but the viability of your organization depends on it.

We know you’ve squeezed supply costs. You’ve optimized revenue cycle. You’ve “leaned” everything you can. What’s left? The doctors. Achieving the next level of breakthrough improvements in quality and cost requires more effective collaboration between physicians and healthcare systems. But true collaboration is harder than it looks. In Greeley’s experience, achieving the needed degree of physician-hospital integration and alignment requires new solutions in five key areas:

      1. New models. “The old medical staff model is dead! What’s the new model?” We hear this refrain every day. The problem is that the old model, the self-governed, organized medical staff, is not going quietly into the night. So the pathway to effective physician-hospital integration and alignment requires working with both the existing medical staff and new models such as employment, service line management and comanagement, clinically integrated networks, and bundled payments. Greeley’s experience has taught us that the magic isn’t in choosing the “right” model. It’s in the ability to focus and execute on implementing the models that best fit a health system’s unique circumstances.
      2. Practitioner performance optimization. If physicians and allied health practitioners aren’t doing the right things in practicing medicine and performing as team members, quality and cost suffer. Today’s healthcare systems need a clear, effective methodology for optimizing practitioner performance throughout the enterprise, from inpatient to outpatient, from private practice to employment. But most still depend on outdated models of peer review and human resources not designed for today’s complex challenges.
      3. Physician leadership. Whether a system is redesigning patient-centered care or leading physicians through change, competent, effective physician leadership is critical. No model, new or old, will succeed without well-trained, engaged physician leaders. Every hospital and health system needs physician leadership that works for any of the models.
      4. System integration. As hospitals come together in ever-larger systems, their leaders seek to optimize the value of being a system through economies of scale and standardization. Yet these goals must be balanced against the need to preserve appropriate local variation, autonomy, and control. Nowhere is this more important than in creating sustainable change initiatives with physicians.
      5. Trust. All too often, trust between physicians and hospitals is low. In almost every healthcare community in which Greeley has worked, past conflicts have left scars that undermine trust and make the hard work of improving quality and reducing costs difficult. Rebuilding trust once it’s been broken requires focused attention—and sometimes help from a respected, impartial third party.


We at The Greeley Company wish all of you the very best in your efforts to address these critical healthcare challenges so you can succeed in the most important job of all—providing great patient care.

CEO As Agent of Change

The above post was written by The Greeley Company’s Principal and Chief Medical Officer, Rick Sheff, MD, as introductory commentary to a HealthLeaders Media CEO Exchange Insights Report, The CEO As Agent of Change. Click the button below to download the full report.

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