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07/13/2018

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Skilled Clinical Leader, Engaged Clinicians, Great Patient Outcomes

By Rohit Uppal, MD, MBA, Chief Clinical Officer, Hospitalist Services

For TeamHealth leaders, recent weeks have been a time of intense focus on the issues of leadership development and clinician engagement. We invest considerable resources into leadership development, and clinician engagement is one of our top strategic priorities and is always an area of focus. We are just completing our clinician engagement and work/life balance survey, and within the span of a few weeks, we gathered our leaders for the National Medical Leaders Conference (NMLC) in Nashville, Tennessee, and completed sessions of our Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) and Coach Development Academy (CDA) courses in Knoxville, Tennessee.

I chose to join and remain with TeamHealth largely because of the energy and resources that our organization invests in leadership development and clinician engagement. I am proud to be part of this organization, and I place great value on these two areas. During the CDA course, I spoke on leadership development and clinician engagement, and current research offers objective evidence connecting leadership, clinician engagement and patient outcomes.

The impact of clinician engagement is well documented. Research has consistently indicated that as clinician engagement or satisfaction increases, there is a correlation with improved patient safety, clinical quality and patient experience. This is all consistent with the TeamHealth philosophy: we believe better experiences for physicians lead to better outcomes—for patients, partners and physicians alike.

While we have established that improved clinician engagement has a significant impact, the research on how we achieve engagement has been primitive until recently. There is emerging evidence demonstrating what many of us have intuitively known: leadership is a key enabler for improving clinician engagement. For a great example of this research, look at this study from the Mayo Clinic. The bottom line is that the things our leaders say and do have a tremendous impact. High-performing leaders improve clinician engagement, and clinician engagement leads to better outcomes for our patients.

In the non-clinical realm, the impact of an immediate supervisor on employee satisfaction is well established. I think that in the clinical realm this is amplified due to the emotional weight and complexity of the work, growing financial pressures within our healthcare institutions and disruptive changes we are experiencing in healthcare. Achieving clinician engagement requires a local leader who understands both the daily realities of clinical work and the operational and financial realities of our practices. Clinician engagement requires a servant leader who can develop trusting relationships with his/her clinicians, create a positive culture and manage change. Of course, this is challenging work, and none of this is taught in medical school. We are fortunate that our organization has recognized the need for identifying and developing clinical leaders and providing them the tools and training needed to succeed in these challenging roles. Not only that, our FMD2B course enables us to identify potential physician leaders and prepare them for future leadership roles.

Our longstanding focus on leadership and clinician engagement is essential to supporting our future success. If you are a leader, thank you for the hard work you do and be sure to participate in the leadership development programs above. If you support a leader, please know how valuable a role you play in enabling the success of our leaders. Your work makes a significant impact. If you are thinking of becoming a leader, please make that clear to your leadership team and know that you are in the right organization.

Lead a team focused on delivering excellent patient care. Discover how TeamHealth  supports you and offers growth opportunities throughout the organization.