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Un-complicating Healthcare IT

How Is Your Community Hospital’s IT Impacting Physician Retention?

May 26, 2015 3:09:00 AM Posted by Phil Stravers | Partner, V.P. Strategy & Development

Hospital IT Impacting Physician Retention

How Is Your Community Hospital’s IT Impacting Physician Retention?

If you’re like us, you probably grew up with the expression, “you catch more bees with honey than vinegar.”

Good physicians are a little like bees: they’re very busy and vitally important to your ecosystem’s health. If your community hospital wants to attract and keep them, your IT better be more like honey than vinegar.

If your hospital’s IT impedes workflow, your physicians feel the sting. But don’t despair. A strategic approach to your hospital’s technology helps you identify problems and partner with physicians to build confidence, achieve objectives and solidify retention.

Here’s how.

What’s The Problem, Doc?

The quickest and easiest way to find out how physicians feel about your community hospital’s IT is to talk to them. Skip the grapevine and find out how they really feel about your IT.

Chances are, they’ll tell you about:

  • Access Barriers. Do your physicians have to click through a lot of screens and log in to several different programs to complete short tasks? That’s a big red flag.
  • Documentation. Does your HCIS require physicians to input documentation they usually delegate to nurses? If so, they’re probably talking about your system in the break room...even if it’s best practice.
  • Interoperability. Are your physicians manually printing and sending information from your EHR because it’s easier? That’s your IT investment going down the drain.

Once you’ve identified their chief complaints, supplement that knowledge by capturing deeper IT effectiveness metrics. You might find that when you take your IT effectiveness pulse, you’re losing more time or suffering more efficiency problems than you imagined.

Take CPOE as an example. If a low percentage of your physicians are using CPOE, there could be several culprits. Maybe your search functionality makes finding individual orders difficult. Or maybe your clinicians don’t know how to set up contextual “Favorites” for rapid ordering. Order sets might not be available, or available order sets might not apply to a specific patient’s needs.

We could go on.

To sum this up (and avoid giving you a panic attack), you must look at the granular details of your community hospital’s IT ecosystem to determine what isn’t working.

So, Now What?

Once you’ve worked with your clinicians to diagnose their IT pain, it’s time to create a treatment plan.

To make your community hospital’s IT valuable for all parties — physicians included — you must work with them, win their buy-in and develop a strategy that meets everybody’s goals. Retention follows.

First, make sure you address each problem individually. Talking about IT problems in broad strokes saves you time, sure. But it also makes physicians feel ignored and undervalued. Communicate your plan of action to specific physicians based on their specific needs. If you do it right, you’ll win their buy-in and make them more confident in your IT strategy.

Here’s another tip: never lose sight of patient value. Your physicians entered community healthcare so they could provide quality, personal care. They want to spend meaningful time with patients.

Ultimately, your hospital’s IT redesign must make patient value a core objective, applying a lean methodology that aligns your people, processes and technology toward a unified purpose. Develop standardized work and best practices to solve physician issues and align your staff, processes and technology toward delivering patient value.

Accomplish that, and your physicians view IT as a critical advantage enabler instead of a necessary hindrance.

The Sweet Reward

If you effectively identify the issues hurting your physicians on a daily basis and develop a strategic IT plan, your community hospital becomes a better place to work.

Don’t let suboptimal IT turn your operations into a big grind with little payoff. Start assessing these key areas, make patient value your primary success measure and watch your IT grow more effective and valuable.

Your physicians will thank you for it.

Learn even more about making your hospital's IT a physician retention powerhouse.

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Phil Stravers | Partner, V.P. Strategy & Development

Phil Stravers, Partner and EVP of Strategy & Market Development at ICE Technologies, Inc. has been in consulting and management roles within the information technology industry for over 25 years and has spent more than 20 years helping hospitals and clinics “make IT work better”. Phil has had the opportunity to act as an Interim CIO for numerous hospitals which gives him a unique perspective on their challenges and associated solutions. Phil really enjoys sharing lessons learned and frequently presents at various hospital associations, HIMSS events and healthcare board rooms all over the country. In addition to his passion for improving Health IT, he loves baseball (die hard Cubs fan) and has spent more than 15 years coaching young baseball players. Phil lives in Pella, IA and often shares concepts learned from his background in coaching along with the Dutch farm culture and work ethic that his home town is known for.