Health care leaders need a unique set of skills to manage innovation and guide their organizations during a time of rapid change, Robert Pearl, CEO of the Permanente Medical Group, writes in Forbes.
"Real change" in health care requires leaders who can help doctors change how they practice medicine, Pearl writes. But physicians tend to resist change, and many traditional leaderships skills need to be modified to work well in the unique context of health care, Pearl says.
Pearl shares several tips for health care leaders working to engage physicians in initiatives to improve and modernize care:
Julie Riley, Physician Executive Council
Robert Pearl’s observations echo many of the comments we've heard from health care organizations who have successfully engaged physicians to achieve clinical transformation.
As Pearl notes, success hinges on understanding the unique challenges physicians face. But it also requires understanding the unique contributions physicians can and are making to care transformation efforts. In our research on physician leadership last year, we found that an increasing number of physician leadership roles are focused on implementing change within the organization. (Learn more about changes in physician leadership structures and bring the discussion back to your organization with our Market Observations and Discussion Guide.)
However, for these physician "change agents" to be effective and use their influence, they must be effectively positioned within the organization. Banner Health's clinical leadership infrastructure is a great example of how to harness physician influence to create standards all clinicians can follow. (Learn more about Banner's clinician-centered infrastructure here.)
Change agents, as Pearl suggests, also need to be able to engage doctors emotionally and to communicate change in a way that builds support for a shared vision. While that may sound daunting, it's actually a skill that every physician leader can learn. Our Physician Communication Toolkit equips leaders with the tools they need to craft messages that reach and resonate with the entire medical staff.
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