Blog by Elizabeth Keating
Senior Project Manager, Council of Accountable Physician Practices
“It will not be possible to move the country toward accountable, value-based care without strong physician leadership at all levels of the organization.”
This statement was made by Robert Pearl, M.D., CEO of the Permanente Medical Group and the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group. Dr. Pearl recently moderated a panel at the CAPG Colloquium held in Washington, DC, on September 29, 2016.
The panel, “Physician Leadership in the Movement Toward Accountable Care,” was hosted by the Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP) and featured CAPP leaders discussing best practices in recruiting, training and developing physician leaders.
“Healthcare systems should view physician leadership as a capital investment for the future with huge ROI,” said Dr. Pearl, who also serves as the chairman of the board of CAPP. “The CAPP medical groups are committed to sharing their considerable experience to help all provider organizations face the challenges ahead.”
Over the course of the discussion, the panel touched on key aspects of their physician leadership development approaches. All agreed that leadership development starts at the moment of recruitment into the organization.
“Every physician is a leader. We start with that assumption,” said Marc Klau, MD, Assistant Medical Director of SCPMG. “Take every physician on as a leader and then expand their capability, because you never know when you will need them.
Dr. Klau described how SCPMG’s expansive geography allows for unique leadership development opportunities because programs begin at the medical center level. He explained that each medical center allows emerging physician leaders to build programs that work toward the Triple Aim goal. He stressed that this display of clinical excellence is critical to growing as a physician leader, because it builds trust among peers.
Dr. Klau also discussed how SCPMG’s leadership programs are geared toward training leaders in Permanente culture, not just administrative practices.
“It’s not about learning to log in to our electronic health record,” he said. “It’s about anchoring people in our history, quality expectations and developing communication skills.”
The panelists overwhelmingly agreed that physician leaders must possess emotional intelligence to be effective.
“The best leaders are going to be visionary but anchored in reality,” said Dr. Klau. “People who have a passion for doing something are the people who will move and change the world.”
The panelists agreed that physicians who are aspiring to lead their health systems or who think they might want to take on a more comprehensive role should start small. Emerging physician leaders could join clinical improvement committees or the first stage of a leadership program to determine if the track is right for them.