HM16 Session Analysis: Physician Engagement in Quality Improvement


Presenter: Jordan Messler, MD, SHFM

Summary: The main objective of this lecture was to understand the culture that often limits physician engagement. It also offered insights on how to best understand motivators for engagement, and tried to focus on strategies to improve and create an environment for physician engagement.

Despite strong evidence, there remains a refusal to confront healthcare provider’s severe quality problems. There is a high rate of failure, considering that 80% of major initiatives don’t meet their objectives. Dr. Messler pointed out that the second principle of the "Key Characteristics of an Effective Hospital Medicine Group" is an engaged hospitalist. To make this more complicated, 40% of hospitalists report inpatient census that exceed safe levels at least once a month; and 52% of hospitalists have signs of burnout.

Dr. Messler explained are intrinsic and extrinsic motivators: the culture of the group will impact the extrinsic motivation factors when it tries to encourage physician to do their work because they expected of themselves, not because some else is looking over their shoulders. Among intrinsic motivators: a sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose drives a culture of not only do the work but also improve it. Some hospitalist groups are trying to explore new approaches, including protective time for physicians to allow them to get involved in committee and QI projects.

Applying behavioral economics concepts (science of human motivation) can help HMGs design incentives among such domains as inertia (by simplifying processes), immediacy (giving bonus right after achieving goals), mental accounting (using paper checks for rewards).

HM Takeaways:

  • There is lack of awareness of physician disengagement.
  • Burn out is the opposite of engagement and affects patient quality.
  • There are intrinsic and extrinsic factors that drives engagement.
  • By creating a culture of ownership, mastery, autonomy, and rediscovery of purpose and right mix of incentives physicians can engage more.
  • SHM has an Engagement Survey that can help get to know baseline motivators driving among specific groups.

Dr. Villagra is a hospitalist in Batesville, Ark., and a member of Team Hospitalist.

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