Why Physician Leaders? The experts tell us

Thoughts and ideas from The Physician Executive
Why Physician Leaders? The experts tell us
October 25, 2017 at 12:00 AM
by The Physician Executive
physician leaders, doctors as leaders

One of my core values is being a learner which means I explore widely to discover what physician leaders are accomplishing, or could accomplish.

An article, “Turning Great Doctors into Great Leaders” caught my attention recently. Since I plan to share interviews with leadership experts and influential healthcare leaders from time to time, I spoke to two of the three authors to learn more. Jennifer Perry, a principal at FMG Leading and whose focus is healthcare, and Dr. Matt Brubaker, CEO at FMG Leading, graciously agreed to be interviewed.

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series.

Philippa: I’m going to jump right in with my first question. What do you see are the major advantages of having physicians leading healthcare organizations?

Jennifer: I think that’s a great question and a really important one because, given where healthcare has been and where it’s headed, having physicians playing a key role in leading organizations is really going to be critical to their success. That’s both due to internal and market reasons. In general, consumers want to know that physicians, who are close to understanding the quality of care and how care is delivered, are also involved in leading an organization from a business perspective. And internally, just as organizations now have a larger physician workforce so to speak, there is a large interest in being led by one of their own, and having confidence in a physician leader at the helm.

Philippa: I know that you cite some research in your article. Can you share with us what the research shows in this area?

Jennifer: The research shows a number of things. One is that physicians prefer to be led by other physicians. Two, physicians in leadership play a role in encouraging higher physician engagement and also in producing demonstrable outcomes. So, not only quality outcomes but also broader organization outcomes including financial outcomes.

Philippa: What market factors make it now more important than ever to have physicians move into leadership roles. Obviously, the marketplace is shifting dramatically. And I’m just curious what you see as those market factors that are really pushing more physicians into leadership roles?

Matt: It’s a good question. The reality is, there’s a lot of change … turbulence … pick a word. Chaos is probably slightly too strong, but there’s a lot of consolidation and change happening in the healthcare space. And so that probably first and foremost warrants the need for really savvy, well-developed, articulate, strategic clinical leaders, physician leaders.
Again and again, the clients we work with are looking for a doc at the table, so to speak, even if perhaps the senior-most leadership team at that organization is mostly business folks. They want a physician who’s able to speak to the clinical dimensions of and even the strategic and business dimensions of the change that has to happen around consolidation and structure amongst other things. There’s an unbelievable shortage of folks who can provide that kind of counsel and guidance and participate as an executive in that way.

Jennifer: And Matt, I would add that, as the industry is shifting to value-based reimbursement, just linking the quality and the cost dimensions of healthcare and healthcare delivery, I think, is really important. And so, as our clients are facing that challenge, having a knowledgeable physician at the table is even more important.

Stay tuned for Part 2 …