Yes, you can get them there. Here are five effective tips that will help.

1. Find the Right Time

Strategic opportunity is the first step to the inclusion of physicians in any quality matter. From notification to schedule, timing is everything.

One physician recalled receiving an invitation to an all-day quality and analytics event that was sent via email . . . one week prior to the actual event. “It’s not that we didn’t want to be there,” said one radiation oncologist, “we just can’t, patients come first.”

Consider the physicians’ schedules, particularly if you’re requesting a large portion of their day; they need enough notice to either block the time or, if a small number of patients have already been scheduled, try to rearrange their calendars.

2. Develop a Value Proposition

Remember, a physician’s time and attention is at a premium; therefore, your meeting must provide maximum value. The benefit of a meeting to anyone, even a physician, is either offensive, change something to better a situation (impact discussion), or defensive, make sure something doesn’t change without one’s influence (avoid being impacted). The better of these two positions in quality and patient safety is always offensive. This is the way to progress the entire culture and system toward improvement.

This type of positive impact only happens when there are no surprises. Physicians should be involved in the data, discussions, and reactions to quality topics prior to the meeting; then when they come, there is not defensive reaction, but empowerment to contribute. This allows for maximum value.

In terms of a mathematical equation, value is benefit over cost. Therefore, any activity involving a physician must have a higher benefit then the cost to them as an individual. This is the framework of an essentialist prioritization algorithm.

“Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter. –Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

3. Determine Motivation

What will appeal to them about your meeting? According to the Organizational Behavioral Modification (OB Mod) approach defined by Fred Luthans, three interventions to motivate positive behavior: money, performance feedback, and social recognition.

Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation needs to be evaluated. Which physicians are intrinsically motivated and how can that be praised with feedback? How are physicians extrinsically motivated? And finally, how can that be maximized with recognition (since usually money is not an option)?

Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, puts it another way: “We have three innate psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness. When those needs are satisfied, we’re motivated, productive, and happy.”

This same rule applies when motivating physicians to attend patient safety and quality discussions or meetings. Quality teams need to create climates where physicians feel competent and not controlled, climates where they are proactive, valuable contributors to the patients and teams working on quality projects. That’s when they will be “motivated, productive, and happy” to attend.

4. Gain Leadership Buy-in

You’ll hear us say this time and again: Leadership buy-in is mission-critical. If they’re not engaged, it won’t work.

Physicians work in a performance- and financial-based healthcare world. If their leadership allows them to participate autonomously, yet with aligned motivation, incentive, and prioritization, many more physicians would love to help improve the quality of care for patients.

The facts are that, in typical physician reimbursement incentive models, for every hour of physician time, it costs that doctor approximately $100–200 of lost pre-tax revenue. This may be the most difficult issue to tackle, so make sure each meeting has pre-defined goals and objectives to accomplish that demonstrate their value and worth to executives. If patient safety and quality meetings are a priority to their leadership, they will become a priority to physicians.

5. Deliver Consumable Content

In my early days as a physician leader, I received a P&L statement for review and feedback. “What does P&L stand for?” I asked the poor finance intern who was showing me the data (and who also couldn’t answer my question). Okay . . . don’t laugh so hard, surely some of you would have asked the same question.

My very steep learning curve aside, the point of “language” difference and translational issues are vast and never ending. As a quality expert, I can usually hold my own with all the quality, compliance, third-party, and payer-acronym alphabet soup, but what about the frontline doctors who don’t know what HCAHPS (https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-instruments/HospitalQualityInits/HospitalHCAHPS.html) means, or how to interpret the data when it is given?

Part of breaking down barriers and partitions of virtual control to include all clinicians and administrative counterparts involves speaking the same language. Present data that’s digestible, valuable, and applicable to your “consumer,” (in this case, the front-line physician and fellow clinicians).

Nathan J Neufeld, DO

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