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Home / News & IndustryManaged Care Insight and Analysis
Updated: April 27, 2010
New Remedies Needed To Attract Physicians To Participate In Quality Improvement Initiatives

Hospitals will have to change their paradigm if they want more volunteer physician participation in quality improvement efforts. That’s the conclusion of a study by the Washington D.C.-based Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC).

Physicians already have a new paradigm. As more services shift to outpatient settings, they are confronting quality-of-life issues, and have less time and feel less obligated to volunteer time for hospital activities.

In the old days, hospitals historically relied on the voluntary medical staff model to solicit physician participation — a model generally premised on a loose affiliation between hospitals and community-based physicians

"While hospitals are making gains in quality, greater alignment of hospitals and physicians working together on quality improvement would likely spur considerably more improvement," said Debra A. Draper, HSC associate director and co-author of the study with Allison Liebhaber and Genna R. Cohen.

The HSC authors interviewed hospital leaders in Detroit, Memphis, St. Paul, Minn., and Seattle and identified hospital strategies to encourage and generate more physician participation, including:

  • Employing physicians;
  • Using credible data to identify quality areas needing improvement;
  • Providing visible hospital leadership support;
  • Identifying and nurturing physician champions to help engage their peers; and
  • Communicating the importance of physicians’ contributions.

Suggestions included:

  • Making hospital bylaws specific and spell out accountability that clearly outlines physicians’ responsibilities;
  • Hiring physicians full-time to create incentives for their involvement in quality improvement, lessening competing pressures on physicians’ time and increasing their accessibility and visibility in the hospital;
  • Providing physicians with credible data proving because many physicians believe, mistakenly, that they are providing good quality of care;
  • Creating a strong quality culture by publicly demonstrating that quality improvement is important, supported and encouraged; and
  • Increasing physician willingness to participate, by showing them that quality improvement activities improve patient outcomes and aren’t just administrative or regulatory requirements.

Not just hospital leaders, but the nation’s policy makers driving the nation’s healthcare quality improvement agenda, should get involved, the authors said.

Policymakers should focus on a limited number of quality improvement initiatives that demonstrate the most promise for significant improvement. They should strive for consistency across programs, upgrade patient care quality data and establish financial and other incentives to support their quality improvement.

The study’s findings are detailed in a new HSC Issue Brief – Hospital Strategies to Engage Physicians in Quality Improvement.

The HSC is a nonpartisan policy research organization providing research on the nation’s changing health system to inform policymakers to better healthcare policy. HSC is funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research.

Address: Center for Studying Health System Change, 600 Maryland Ave. SW, #550, Washington DC 20024; (202) 484-5261, www.hschange.org.


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