We all talk about getting our physicians involved in our supply utilization management initiatives, but how do you, in fact and in practice, get your physicians emotionally and operationally engaged in this worthy endeavor?
It’s not going to happen by having them attend your value analysis team meetings, since they don’t have the time or patience for these get-togethers. It’s not going to happen by talking to the chairperson of their department. And even with the best intentions, it’s not going to happen if you invite them to a luncheon meeting with their peers to discuss savings money.
How to Get Physicians Involved in Supply Utilization Management
There is only one secret that we have discovered that will absolutely get your physicians involved, engaged, and absorbed in your utilization management initiatives: Relevant and indisputable data about their practices!
For instance, I remember at one teaching hospital we worked with a few years ago we were able to encourage their surgeons to conduct a utilization study on their surgical glove usage. Interestingly, we usually provide the value analysis analytics for these studies, but the surgeons insisted on doing it themselves. Who was I to say no to them?
While I thought this would never happen due to these surgeons’ workload, I was pleasantly surprised that at our next meeting the surgeons presented PowerPoint slides with the metrics (usage and type of glove used by each surgeon, etc.), that they thought were important for them to review and discuss. To make a long story short, these surgeons reduced the number of types of gloves they were buying and their usage without us doing anything to facilitate this process.
Utilize Data to Work with Physicians
I must admit that this wasn’t my typical experience with surgeons. I only mention this story so you can see that the physician’s role in utilization management is to understand and then interpret the data that is presented to them and then self-correct their behavior based on what the data is telling them. Since physicians are like scientists by their training, they will always relate to data, especially if it is telling them something about their own practices. This is what gets their attention, interest, and emotional involvement in your utilization management initiatives. No other tactic I know of will attain the same lasting results.
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