Building Medical Staff Buy-In when Conducting a Physician Community Needs Assessment

Hospitals and medical group leaders who are actively recruiting new physicians are aware that the recruitment process can generate significant uneasiness for the medical staff. Standing physicians have their own opinions about the need to add physicians — particularly in their specialty. They can be both resistant and vocal when they feel the need is unsubstantiated. Often they are offended when they are not asked for an opinion about the depth of the staff to serve the community. When it is time to launch a recruitment initiative, it is critical to build medical staff buy-in by involving the physicians early and gather their input. The following best practices are essential to allay unrest:

Address the physician community need assessment (CNA) process.

Explain the scope of the CNA and what is the objective. Health systems must continually evaluate physician needs to meet the growing demands in their given market. The competition is increasing in various specialties and subspecialties, which means that organizations must have a well-researched and documented need in their market for these specialties to substantiate their recruitment efforts.

Healthcare organizations have the primary responsibility and challenge of constantly developing their medical staff, addressing such questions as:

  • Do we have adequate providers to meet the needs of our population?
  • Is there the needed number and mix of specialties in our service area?
  • Is there sufficient access to the physicians, and are they meeting the needs of our patient population?
Survey the medical staff

Solicit physician input through a formal survey process. Various methods can be used to gather information, including paper surveys, electronic surveys, one-to-one telephone calls, and in-person interviews.

The canvasing questions should be the same to ensure the corresponding data.

  • Survey all primary care doctors and specialists.
  • Send a letter signed by the chief of staff to all members of the medical staff asking for their participation, explaining that the hospital is conducting a community need assessment and would value their opinion. State that they can schedule a personal interview if desired.
  • Once the interviews are complete (in-person or by telephone), the data is included in the general survey responses.
Prepare survey questions to highlight various sections, including:
  • Physician and group demographics
  • Questions regarding practice models, days available to see patients, acceptance of Medicare or Medicaid, new patient appointment timelines, etc.
  • Opinions/impressions regarding the need for additional primary care
  • Opinions/impressions regarding the need for additional medical and surgical specialists

For example, list degree of need and state reason they believe there is a need:

Degree of NeedReason
  • CriticalHighModerateNone
  • Description of any future anticipated changes in their practice in the next 3-5 years (e.g., retirement, practice hours/days, becoming employed by the hospital, etc.)

Once the information is gathered from the medical staff, it is essential to compile the opinions in a blinded summary. A sample statement would be: “60% of physicians surveyed stated that there is a critical need for additional primary care physicians because patients tell us there is a long wait to get an appointment.” This material becomes a part of the CNA documentation to be used to substantiate the need for recruitment of additional providers. Be sure to provide access to this summary to the medical staff as a part of the communication loop.

Contact Coker Group today for assistance in assessing physician needs in your community or organization.

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