Physician Leadership Effectiveness Compendium

Best Practices for Elevating Physician Leadership Performance

Executive Summary

Health systems around the country are looking to transform the way they deliver care—and they’re going to need engaged physician leaders to do so. Yet, recruiting and developing effective physician leaders remains challenging. This study provides 16 best practices to help providers revamp their approach to physician leader development.

67% of organizations rely on 10% or less of their staff to serve as leaders.

Currently, 67% of organizations rely on 10% or less of their medical staff to serve as leaders, and about the same number plan to grow their physician leaders over the next few years.

Given the magnitude of care transformation efforts, the pool of potential leaders must expand.

While growing the leadership base is the first step, leadership development, support, and compensation alignment are just as important.

Advance leadership development

The most basic component of any physician leadership program is skills-based training. Since physician leaders fill numerous roles across the health system, they need the relevant skills to be successful. This starts with targeted training trajectories and applied skills training.

Physicians will also need more opportunities to learn how to expand their thinking and build relationships across the organization. This can be accomplished through physician leadership rotations and forums or a hybrid training model.

Provide ongoing leadership support

Leadership training should not be a one-time investment. As leadership roles evolve and expand, leaders need ongoing support through robust mentoring and one-on-one coaching. Supporting infrastructure must also evolve, particularly as leaders take on priorities with greater strategic importance.

Deliver structured performance reviews

Physician leaders are no different from any other profession—they require frequent, structured, meaningful performance reviews that highlight strengths and development opportunities to ensure their continued development over time. 360-degree evaluations that incorporate feedback from across the organization are a mechanism for preparing physician leaders to take on responsibilities of increasing strategic importance to the organization.

Align compensation with performance goals

In creating more accountability mechanisms for physician leaders, some organizations have recognized the potential for adopting performance-based compensation models. While performance incentives are common for administrative professionals, adoption lags among physician leaders.

One way to structure performance-based contracts is to put a meaningful percentage of compensation at risk, linking it to critical organizational goals.

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