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Integrated Physician Engagement Scores High ROI

Integrated Physician Engagement Scores High ROI

Which element of your growth strategy is powerful enough to stop millions of dollars in referral revenue from leaving your network? A successful strategic growth plan, that effectively engages physicians, depends on the “triple play” approach that combines all three: data, strategy and execution.

The Triple Play Workshop at the ACHE Congress on Leadership drove home the point, as more than 115 healthcare leaders engaged in a simulation workshop presented by Perception Health, HSG and Tiller-Hewitt HealthCare Strategies. During the interactive exercise, 15 teams competed to make the optimal investments in data, strategy and execution to “drive in the most runs” by fully engaging physicians in their growth strategies.

The goal of the session was to demonstrate how an integrated game plan can increase revenues while improving operations and physician engagement.

Opening Day Energy at ACHE

As participants checked in and formed their teams, the energy level was like baseball’s opening day. The nearly standing-room-only crowd was ready to roll up their sleeves and compete in the workshop simulation which tested their ability to make the growth investments that would generate the highest returns.

Leading off with an overview of the industry landscape, it was clear that one of the top challenges to growth is the engagement gap between hospitals and physicians. Recent surveys have reported that only 20 percent of physicians meet the criteria for engagement, and that physicians feel significantly less engaged in clinical and administrative policy decisions than executives think.

Clips from well-known movies underscored the reality that 70% of strategies fail due to lack of execution. Many were familiar with the “Field of Dreams” fantasy, “if you build it, they will come” and identified with Moneyball’s theme of using analytics to invest in fielding a team that can actually score runs. “Your goal should be to buy wins…in order to buy wins, you buy runs!” Translated to healthcare terms: lack of integration between data, strategy and execution can cause well-intentioned investments to fall short of producing revenue and market share growth.

Investing in the Winning Line-UpTH team
In the face of these challenges, participants formed 15 teams, assuming the roles of administrative leaders of a simulated hospital (small, medium or large markets) or physician group, which were blinded examples oThe Triple Play winners at ACHE Congress!

Team 11 scored with the best combination of data, strategy and execution!f actual organizations. They worked over the course of three “innings” (representing three years) with the objective of making strategic investment decisions that would result in growth and return on investment, represented by “scoring runs.”

Their high, medium or low investment options were allocated across a “line-up” of eleven choices that included data analytics, physician strategies and field execution capabilities. A computer model updated their results based on the costs and incremental revenue that resulted from their decisions.

The groups could ask questions from “coaches” stationed around the room to dive deeper and get the information they needed to build a case for a executing a winning growth strategy.

At the conclusion, three teams rose to the top, with each scoring seven runs against the maximum possible score of nine runs. The tie-breaker went to Team 11 based on their return on investment of $52.6 million. They edged out Team 15 and Team 12 who generated $48.7 million and $48.2 million ROI, respectively.

Winning Team 11 (pictured above, left to right) included captain Cortney Penick, Iowa Donor Network; Grace Kowalyshyn-Taylor, University of Colorado Health; Patty Lubrano, Virtua Health; Bruce Chan and Eric Lunde, Kettering Medical Center; Richard Larsen, Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine.

Post-Game Analysis

Insight from top-scoring teams underscored three key takeaways:

  1. Stay focused on physician engagement
  2. Sequence investments strategically
  3. Don’t let the curveballs throw you off course

The winning team was assigned a 268-bed hospital with 377 physicians in a medium-sized, second-tier suburban market with three to five hospitals.

They started with investments centered on “people and engagement, which is foundational for growth,” according to Rich Larsen. “It was important to get physicians on the bus and aligned with a common strategy and vision.”

Their decisions were based on accessing data to help set strategy for recruiting and aligning physicians early in the game, and they maintained their investment priorities on data and economic alignment throughout.

Moving into the next innings, execution became a higher priority, as they raised their investment in physician liaison, outreach and retention.

Bruce Chan pointed out, “In my experience, physician liaison and outreach is most effective. The ROI on a good physician liaison team pays for itself very well.”
Investment in retention ramped up in year three. “Retention can actually be more critical that recruitment. We invested more there because physician engagement is so important to sustain over the long-term,” Chan noted.

Team 15 also scored seven runs. Assigned to simulate an 800-bed tertiary hospital with 1,251 physicians in a large, urban market, their team challenge was different. Yet their strategy also focused on physician engagement.

“We focused on the reality that physicians respond to data and that physician leaders play an important role in strategy development,” said Josh Spaulding, Regional Assistant Operations Officer of InterMountain Healthcare, who served as team captain.

Building on that foundation of data and strategy, Josh’s team then invested in physician liaison and retention. “You need to implement the physician strategy through action.”

Both teams kept a steady course in reaction to their curveballs. “It’s a fact of life that the environment is constantly changing. Without knowing all the variables or having all the information, it made sense to stick with the strategy,” Spaulding noted.

Team Dynamics in the Dugout

All of them agreed that the dynamic nature of the exercise reinforced essential need for teamwork in making decisions. Everyone brings a different perspective to the table.

“You can tell that team members see things through a lens based on their organizational role,” Larsen pointed out. “Data and finance people were more oriented toward investing in data, while business development members were more holistic in their approach.

“But the diversity didn’t get in the way. It was a very functional group, great dialogue and respect,” he noted.

Clearly, the combination of a healthy team dynamic and optimal investment was the right game plan for a winning team.

Your Winning Game Plan

Although the ACHE participants worked through a blinded simulation, the Triple Play Workshop is designed to utilize actual market data in a dynamic strategy session that includes friendly competition.

We can bring the Triple Play Workshop to your facility and let your management team compete with one another. Through an on-site, facilitated session, the management team of a hospital or physician enterprise can laser-focus on actual data insights, growth strategy and execution models to optimize physician engagement and maximize return on investment.  If we bring to your facility, we can simulate your market and your competitors.

Please submit the form to discuss how we can customize your growth plan to include the data, strategy and execution that will to achieve your goals and return on investment.

Or, feel free to contact Tammy Tiller-Hewitt,, 618-651-8700.

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