Thursday, April 26, 2012

What can we do to get more collaborative action with our physicians?

Neal Friedlander MD, our Chairman of Medicine, sent me an email last week that made me very happy. Neal has been working with John Saunders MD, our Chief Medical Officer, Hal Tucker MD, our Chief of Staff, Jody Porter RN, DNP, our Chief Nursing Officer and with our great nurse managers to make our new system of having Medical Directors for each of our inpatient units really come alive. In the email, Neal told me and others about the wonderful early successes that these local leadership teams of doctors and nurses have had on improving health outcomes, patient satisfaction and staff satisfaction, while eliminating wasteful practices.

I am very grateful for Neal's work and for the work of the nurse managers and medical directors. They are collaborating wonderfully and our patients, and GBMC are benefiting from this. We have many other fabulous examples of collaboration. Tony Riley MD, our geriatricians, Cathy Hamel and the other leaders of Gilchrist Hospice Care are doing marvelous things. Mark Lamos MD and our wonderful Medical Directors and Practice Managers are doing great things with our primary care practices. These are just a few.

But I have to ask myself the question, "Why is this not happening everywhere at GBMC?" In some other areas, we don't have collaboration to make things better.

For example, a group of physicians will get together and identify a problem. They will then put together a letter with their concerns and send it to me or some other manager/leader at GBMC. One-way communications like these do not generate meaningful change very quickly. I have to admit, I also contribute to this problem with one-way communications to clinicians about problems that I see. Sometimes, I am at a table with other leaders trying to fix a problem but doctors that will be affected by the change are not adequately represented. I need to recognize this and work hard to create a system that leads to better collaboration and less one-way communication. I need to work more closely with our Medical department chairs and our service line leaders to get more clinicians, especially physicians, to the table as collaborators.

Jack Flowers MD, our Chairman of Surgery, has been working very hard to improve surgery at GBMC. The world around us is changing very fast, and Dr. Flowers needs all the help that I and others can give him. I must redouble my efforts to get our surgeons to believe that we really care about what they think and to get them to the table to work with us as collaborators for everyone's benefit. We need new ideas about how to structure meetings and other forms of communication to lead to more collaboration.

Please share your ideas with me on how we can get more collaboration throughout our healthcare system.

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