Healthcare News & Insights

Physician performance: Keys to giving better feedback & addressing issues

When your doctors are performing better, so is your hospital. But waiting for a yearly performance review to give providers feedback isn’t always the best way to make sure they take your words to heart, especially since an incident you bring up may be just a hazy memory by the time the review rolls around. 

Instead, providing feedback and assessments to providers in real time can offer better opportunities for growth, according to Hospitals & Health Networks (H&HN). This doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon long-term performance reviews. Real-time feedback can complement those meetings by helping doctors understand the specifics of the comments they receive – and implement the suggestions quickly.

H&HN looked at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, which created a system that allows providers to receive immediate feedback.

Using a mobile app or web-based software program, doctors are able to rate their peers and supervisors on specific characteristics the hospital found essential to providing value-based care.

These traits are:

  • interpersonal and communication skills
  • leadership
  • medical knowledge
  • patient care
  • practice-based learning and improvement
  • professionalism, and
  • systems-based practice.

Fast feedback

According to the Temple experts, feedback works best when given as soon as possible, so everyone’s likely to remember what happened. Since many hospitals limit feedback for providers to yearly performance reviews, adding another level of feedback can help physicians change their behavior sooner – which improves patient care.

Many hospitals focus on patient feedback from satisfaction surveys and pay significantly less attention to peer-to-peer opinions. While patient feedback is essential for providing excellent care, not taking professional interactions into account can create blind spots for doctors.

Encouraging a regular exchange of feedback between doctors, nurses, lab techs and other staff members can help prevent negative patient interactions, medical errors and other problems. Opening the lines of communication for all clinical staff keeps your hospital running smoothly and allows patients to receive the care they need with fewer issues.

Terminating poor performers

No matter how much effort your organization puts into improving feedback for physicians, there’s no getting around it: Some doctors may need to be fired for their performance.

It’s never easy to decide to let a physician go, especially in a smaller hospital. While many factors may come into play when firing a doctor, having a solid procedure in place for termination can ensure all your bases are covered.

Legal publication Lexology offers several steps for healthcare executives to follow to make sure a firing goes as smoothly as possible. Here are three of the most important:

  1. Make sure performance issues are documented. Firing a doctor can be disruptive to a hospital’s operations for many reasons, and it can have a significant financial impact on your facility. That’s why it’s key to have thorough documentation that fully justifies termination, including all steps taken by your hospital throughout the doctor’s employment. If a doctor is being fired for a less clear-cut reason than an obvious policy violation, it’s essential to review supporting documentation to make sure it’s complete.
  2. Review the employment contract. Go over any contracts with a fine-tooth comb. Don’t just look at the termination clauses, but also the terms of the agreement and the requirements for ending it early. Many contracts will also lay out severance pay, compensation and other legal considerations that should be taken into account before the firing.
  3. Figure out continuity of care. Patient care shouldn’t fall by the wayside if a physician needs to be terminated. Make arrangements for patients who were seeing a fired doctor to either see another provider at your facility or receive care elsewhere, and pay attention to state requirements for the transfer of medical records.

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