South Florida Hospital News
Thursday May 28, 2020
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April 2006 - Volume 2 - Issue 10

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The Best of Both Worlds: Promoting Positive Physician/Hospital Relations

When physicians and hospitals work together, the result can be advantageous for both parties, as well as for the patients they serve. For this reason, it is especially important that these two groups find ways to come together on issues ranging from scheduling to benefits to quality control.

"Sometimes hospitals and physicians have different objectives," explained Pauline Grant, CEO, North Broward Medical Center. "Hospitals have to abide by certain standards, such as JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) regulations, which physicians might just see as another burden with which they have to comply."

"The challenge is to make it easier for them to understand why we do what we do, and to facilitate the process so that it not too burdensome on their end while continuing to maintain quality patient care," she added.

Positive physician/hospital relationships can provide many benefits to the health care providers and to the facilities they serve. "It’s a symbiotic relationship," said Grant. "Doctors need somewhere to practice and treat patients, and hospitals need doctors to see patients in their facilities. Hospitals benefit when doctors bring more patients in."

Patients also benefit when physicians are satisfied with where they work. "Physicians who are happy and who are loyal to the hospitals where they work want to see these institutions succeed – they have a vested interest," said Grant. "That translates to better interactions with patients and in turn, better patient outcomes."

To make this positive relationship work takes effort from both the physicians and the hospitals. At North Broward Medical Center, for example, Grant consistently seeks input from the doctors, even if it may not be positive.

"I feel strongly that we should always get input and feedback from physicians, and make a concentrated effort to get them to the table," she said. "I’d much rather have them come in and tell me how they feel, even if they’re complaining, than to not say anything and walk away."

To open these lines of communication, North Broward Medical Center holds the traditional medical councils and peer reviews, as well as holds focus groups that randomly sample physicians on areas in which the hospital can improve. Physicians are provided with feedback on any actions taken from these focus groups.

"We also hold social events, including an annual dinner and dance, and an event called Colleague Connection that we host two times a year," said Grant. "Colleague Connection gives physicians the chance to get together with their peers, network, and build referral patterns. It’s also a good chance for newer physicians to talk with those who have been on staff for awhile."

Each specialty in the hospital also has its own committee, whose chairs are invited to participate in hospital meetings, along with the chief nursing officer and other managers. "We get a lot of feedback this way," said Grant. "For example, we’ll meet with our surgical committee chair to discuss how we provide surgery – the turnaround, hours, start times, etc. This way, we can improve the overall delivery of care, which enables the surgeons to work more efficiently, resulting in better patient satisfaction."

The hospital also contracts with medical directors to meet with physicians in specific areas, such as those providing care for the uninsured patient population. "The medical director meets every other month with the internal medicine physicians who provide care to these patients in order to monitor the quality of care the patients are receiving, and to make sure that the physicians’ needs are being met," said Grant.

In addition to all of these communication efforts, Grant also visits with physicians in their offices on a regular basis. "It’s a basic thing, but it makes them feel comfortable talking to me," she said. "They also know that my door is always open, and they are welcome to come in."

To make a relationship such as this work, however, requires physicians to make an effort as well. "The leadership of the physicians is key – the chief of staff needs to be active and involved, which goes a long way towards setting the right tone," said Grant. "We are very lucky that our chief of staff, Gary Lehr, has dedicated himself to staying involved in all of the issues that are important to our physicians and to providing strong leadership."

"On an individual level, it helps if physicians understand that what we have is a symbiotic relationship, and that they need us as much as we need them," she continued. "It helps when physicians are willing to meet the hospital halfway, and instead of saying ‘you have to fix this,’ are willing to be a part of the solution."

Pauline Grant can be reached through the North Broward Medical Center administration department at (954) 786-6950.
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