While digital innovation is making life easier for most people, the same cannot be said about physicians. Indeed, some primary care physicians may spend up to half their day poring over electronic health records and juggling other technologies for the clerical work that comes from handling an average of 93.2 patient encounters a week. So it’s hardly a surprise that 75 percent of doctors describe themselves as either “overextended and overworked” or “at full capacity.”
There’s no arguing that the healthcare industry is doing a better job of offering consumers innovations. ZocDoc, for example, has turned appointment scheduling into a one-click experience. It also allows prospective patients to fill out necessary forms online, before arriving at the doctor’s office. Plus, community ratings help patients select a doctor with greater ease.
Some medical systems are even catching on to this trend, leveraging hospital-specific patient-facing platforms, such as MyChart via EPIC. MyChart allows patients to view their health information via a website, giving them access to their medical data and increased ownership over their healthcare experience. And services like LiveMD or Doctor on Demand allow patients to interact with physicians even when they can’t be in the same room together.
While these patient-focused improvements are commendable, physicians face their own set of challenges. But doctors want the same things from digital engagement that everyone else wants: to make their workdays more efficient, to develop a sense of community with their colleagues and to better communicate with hospital administrators and executives.
In Prophet’s work with leading hospital systems across the country, we see an opportunity for several successful programs that would provide digital assistance to doctors. Instead of adding to their crushing workload, these programs would ease it, and help physicians become more engaged as a result. The positive reaction to our development of these programs has shown us that every hospital CEO should embrace three physician experience imperatives.
The Three Physician Experience Imperatives
1. Empathy isn’t just for patients.
Taking a walk in your physicians’ shoes will reveal that they are overloaded with information each day. And often, they have found workarounds that help them manage their schedule and workflow more efficiently. Through interviews and focus groups, you can identify the key pain points to prioritize and then solve for them.
2. Co-create solutions.
Physicians often complain that new products and services are developed in a vacuum, and then released without their input. Co-creating solutions with physicians allows you to test-and-learn, building solutions in a more agile manner. This ensures a result that is physician-approved.
3. Embrace a digital mindset.
The central physicians’ lounge (once a place to keep in touch with one another and new developments) has become a thing of the past as providers grapple with business model changes, hospital mergers and consolidations. Like the rest of the world, doctors now stay in touch digitally: 70 percent rely on mobile devices for clinical decision support, 60 percent text colleagues throughout the workday and 90 percent use social media in their personal lives. Take the next step by using digital as a bridge to minimize distances between hospital facilities and to build a community where physician voices can be shared throughout the system.
Build a Physician Engagement Strategy That Works
A hospital system is only as valuable as the caliber of its physicians. Yet it’s often the physicians themselves who are grappling with non-clinical and administrative tasks that take crucial time away from patient care. Making necessary non-clinical tasks more efficient and communication easier can have an impact on physician engagement in ways that truly matter to physicians. At the end of the day, engagement isn’t for engagement’s sake – it’s purpose is to help physicians feel valued, taken care of, and ultimately believe they’ve made the right decision in working for your hospital system.