Many practices are characterized by long-standing divisions between a federation of independent and autonomous physicians and a support staff primarily focused on processing patients for the physicians to see efficiently. Elements of this system are important, but practice leaders need to bridge these “dual organizations” to achieve peak performance. Three strategies will help:
1. Promote boundary spanning in key practice roles. Office managers should balance their “gatekeeper” duties with efforts to facilitate a more robust flow of information and ideas throughout the practice. Physicians should break out of the autonomous bubbles that can inhibit cooperation and conversation with other physicians and staff.
2. Increase connections. All-staff meetings and smaller group huddles promote relationship-building and improved communication. Studies show that practices characterized by diversity of perspectives, mindfulness, and trusting relationships are more open to new ideas and innovation.
3. Encourage second-order problem solving. Taking a “Band-Aid approach” to problem solving, such as replenishing supplies in one exam room by taking them from another exam room, only helps in the short term. Encouraging staff members at all levels to take the initiative to identify and systematically address underlying problems across the organization is critical to success.
Sign up to receive FPM's free, weekly e-newsletter, "Quick Tips & Insights," featuring practical, peer-reviewed advice for improving practice, enhancing the patient experience, and developing a rewarding career.