How Does Positive Change Happen within Your Provider Platform? Here Are Five Ways.

What does it take to dramatically improve the performance of a provider platform? How about a platform division, such as that disappointing RCM department? What about fixing an even more wide-spread issue, like chronically high employee dissatisfaction and turnover or low patient satisfaction scores?

From our work with physician platforms, we’ve discovered a few traits that we at Scale associate with growth, development, and positive change. Here are five of them:

1. Leadership that fosters open and honest communication. The thing I love most about good communication is it’s free. Positive, constructive change requires a certain type of discourse – the ingredients are usually (and by usually I mean always) honest people who are non-judgmental, capable of examining the past fully and exploring the future range of possibilities openly. At Scale, we analyze and learn from events and then we move on. We don’t linger on past resentments, we don’t do embarrassment or inertia born from pride. We just try to analyze the problem and fix the things we can change with a clear focus on today and tomorrow.

Leaders who live inside their past resentments or hurt feelings tend to ignore accurate and honest reporting.  It’s hurtful to them, so they avoid the information regardless of where it’s coming from and how accurate and helpful it might be.

Which type of leaders do you presently have setting the standards for your platform and for your divisions? Team leaders who love to report on reports? Or team leaders who bury the information? If you want to see more positive changes in your organization, consider whether your leadership is an enabler or a barrier. Read more about how leadership can develop a competitive advantage.

2. A strong board. We have seen great managers report to weak boards, and weak managers report to great boards. In both cases the outcome is the same: frustration. One group of talented leaders wait for the other group to stop interrupting positive change. The truth is that constructive change invariably needs a strong board to shepherd the change and a strong engaged management team to carry out the heavy lifting.

It seems obvious, but it’s not unusual to see strong boards take the view that they can compensate for their management’s weaknesses and vice versa. Observing and critiquing board performance after every meeting is an important discipline for physician organizations hoping to make positive changes. Key questions to consider include:

  • How did we manage our time this meeting?
  • Did we get through our agenda?
  • Did we create additional value in the organization?

Depending on the answers to these questions, it might be time to rethink the makeup of your board.  Is your group missing out on opportunities to make positive change?

3. Careful decision-making. Rushed change is often self-defeating. I often see physician leaders march into a room and demand instant votes on complex subjects only to get deflated six months later after the sudden changes have yielded new, unanticipated problems. A rushed acquisition, merger, or physician hire can be even more damaging.

Physician leaders have told me “we were a great business until we acquired too much” or “we were a great business until we acquired that one business that derailed all of our other ambitions.” Instead of rushing or allowing yourself to be rushed, set a steady pace for all contemplated changes.

4. Passion among leaders and staff. Energy, focus, and commitment can often be the difference between success and failure. Look for the passion in your work and advise your colleagues to do the same – it’s in more places than you think. Stimulate your passions, go seek out the hidden fun in your organization. Are you missing out on celebrating wins like discovered cost savings or really happy patients? Are you really celebrating wins enough? If you want to make positive change, be more passionate about it, and find ways to make that passion contagious.

5. Courage to ask for help. In our experience here at Scale, physician platforms that are most successful at implementing positive change use all the resources available to them. We recommend bringing in an expert group focused on successful growth and development – such as Scale. Read more about what the right relationship with your consultants should look like.

Together, we can help you overcome your toughest challenges. I’ve seen some of the most challenging kids at school turn into scholars over time with the right support, my son being a recent example, and myself being another example. The core ingredients are focus, expert resources, belief, and for physician groups, encouraging some of the traits listed here. Let’s make the necessary changes happen together – faster, deeper, and better.  Learn more about how we work with physician platforms here.

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