1. Hader, Richard PhD, NE-BC, RN, CHE, CPHQ, FAAN

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Why do patients come to your facility to receive care? Is it because of location, nursing care, environmental cleanliness, or the clinical services offered? Although these factors might play a critical role in where patients receive their care, it's more likely that they're directed to your facility because it's where their physician has privileges to practice. Patients often choose their physicians first then follow them to their organization to receive diagnostic and treatment services. Is physician recruitment, retention, and engagement the magic bullet to ensure the growth and financial stability of your organization?

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One of the most unique business relationships is between a healthcare organization and physicians. Healthcare organizations depend on physicians to refer patients to their facilities. This places the physician in the role of a customer, which mandates the healthcare organization to provide enticements to grow and retain its patron base. It's both necessary and incumbent upon healthcare leaders to spend a significant amount of time strategically planning programs and services to attract physicians to practice within their organizations.


Although federal law prohibits organizations from financially incentivizing physicians to bring their patients to a specific facility, there are many strategies deployed to persuade physician engagement. Specialized services provided by organizations typically center on offering physicians needed equipment and supplies or providing them assistance in caring for their patients, such as access to nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and RN first assistants. These accommodations are often pivotal in determining where a physician chooses to practice and must be deliberately and strategically implemented to ensure success.


Healthcare reform has provided a new vehicle for hospitals to highly engage physicians through the integration of an electronic medical record (EMR). One of the major foci of healthcare reform is to develop an integrated health information exchange that will allow practitioners access to a lifetime EMR. The law provides the opportunity for health systems to defray the cost to physicians if they implement an EMR in their own practice. The benefit to the health system is being able to provide a service to physicians that will undoubtedly further engage them to a specific organization while it simultaneously economically benefits them. Organizations will soon be heavily competing with each other to maximize the benefit they'll offer to physicians as a way to build clinical integration.


Physicians aren't only customers, they're also partners with the healthcare organization in which they practice. As leaders, it's difficult to meet the needs of the customer while also setting standards and priorities with your partners. When you combine the fact that the customer and partner is one in the same, the task becomes that much more difficult. Nurse leaders play a crucial role in ensuring success by appreciating the fact that physicians are customers for whom expectations must be met while simultaneously demanding behavior equivalent to a business partner. We must advocate for our physician colleagues while also ensuring they maintain compliance with scientific and efficient standards of practice. Nurses are uniquely positioned to fulfill this role because we clearly understand the business of customer satisfaction while also appreciating the clinical implications of care.


Richard Hader

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