It’s that time of year for reflections: what we’ve learned in 2018 and how to pay this knowledge forward as we navigate what could be another challenging time for American hospitals and health systems in 2019. In fact, a recent industry report from Fitch showed “declining operating margins across the hospitals rating spectrum.” Said another way: hospital margins are razor thin. And, when you combine that news with headlines of new market entrants — such as Amazon, Walmart, and ride sharing giants Uber and Lyft — all trying to get a piece of the “health care pie,” anxiety might start to set in for health care organizations. But, stop… and take a deep breath, because with every potential business threat comes opportunity. That’s why I’ve identified three predictions for the new year that hospitals, in particular, should stay laser focused on – especially if they’re looking to increase operating margins and keep physician teams happy.
- Make sure you know what is asked of every physician leader and if that layering of tasks is what is most optimal for both sides.
- Dust off the compensation plan and your physician administration agreements. Evaluate if the time criteria and the focus designated for the medical directorship makes sense still today.
- When purchasing IT applications, evaluate and ask the IT vendor if they’ve done their homework to make that new application easy for the physician audience (e.g., was it designed for a physician’s workflow in mind?). Fluid, easy training is mandatory, too.
We conducted a hospital market survey in 2018 and found a couple of concerning trends in the way hospitals measure physician administrative time today:
- 27 percent of hospitals still do not collect time logs for physician administrative work, which violates Federal laws.
- Health systems are not measuring their physicians employed time and 42 percent do not require employed physicians to complete time logs for administrative work.
- If a health system does get the paper time log process rolling, there are still major pockets for errors:
21 percent reported illegible time logs; 71 percent reported issues with late submission; and another 21 percent deal regularly with the dreaded “rework” for clarification.
Poor processes around physician time tracking violates compliance and legal standards, doesn’t allow for crisp financial management, and creatively tortures your physician partner all in one fell swoop.
With all the challenges health care faces, hospital teams have to roll up their sleeves with their business processes that touch physicians. Processes that add more to an already burned out physician workforce must be identified and eliminated. Only then can you address those margin and physician satisfaction issues at their cores, and ensure you and your organization are on a better path.