Practice Notes

The (not-so-surprising) key to physician engagement

Cassie Dormond

Culture and provider engagement determine a medical group’s success on nearly all financial, quality, and operational measures. That’s why we spend a lot of time thinking about culture and engagement. We know our members do, too.

Unfortunately, right now, provider engagement is under pressure from increased productivity expectations, decreased autonomy, and a near-constant demand on providers to adjust the ways they practice. Physician leaders express concern about provider burnout and change fatigue, and for good reason.

We’ve talked in the past about the need to build a collaborative culture of engagement at a high level—for example, the importance of setting a shared vision and formalized cultural expectations to codify your group’s culture and identity.

The High-Performance Medical Group: See Attribute #1

There’s certainly work left to be done there, but as we kick off our 2015 research agenda, we are digging deeper into what drives engagement for individual providers. We’re looking for opportunities to fight the threat of change fatigue at the level of the individual provider.

Our preliminary findings indicate one powerfully simple idea that’s often overlooked: recognition. An Advisory Board Survey Solutions study found a correlation between recognizing clinicians for excellent work and increased provider engagement.

Member asks: How do I structure a physician performance scorecard?

This may seem obvious, but among 3,711 economically affiliated physicians in the sample, only 46% agreed that they were recognized by their organization for a job well done. Those providers also reported statistically significantly higher levels of overall engagement. To us, this seems like an obvious opportunity to increase provider engagement by finding targeted ways to simply acknowledge excellent work.

For one member organization, that means distributing monthly, department-wide performance reports across the department. The data is blinded, with the exception of the top five performers. Strategically un-blinding top performers’ recognizes their excellent work and also identifies potential mentorship opportunities for lower performers.

A different member uses an online “compliment portal” they call “Stars” to recognize high performing staff. Employee can log in to a website and commend colleague, providers and non-providers alike, for exemplary work. “Stars” are highlight on the website, and system executives send an email directly to each high performer.

See how we can help you with physician engagement

Engagement is a broad, challenging topic. It can seem difficult to articulate, let alone manage. Focusing on individual, high-impact engagement drivers makes boosting provider engagement a more manageable, tactic-driven effort. We look forward to bringing you more detail on this, and many other such tactics when our 2015 national meeting launches later this year.

In the meantime, we would love to hear from you. If you are interested in speaking with our research team about this topic, please reach out to us at

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