Physician leadership is critical for a successful healthcare system, but too often it gets little more than lip service, says Carson Dye, principal and director of healthcare consulting at Findley Davies in Toledo, Ohio.
Many systems simply offer leadership training classes for doctors and call it a day.
But systems are starting to take the idea of fostering physician leadership more seriously, particularly as their attempts to integrate with physicians fail. In some cases, unmet expectations have led to all-out war, with doctors running off to form their own contracting networks.
"In my opinion, that's one of the worst things that can happen," Dye says.
Last year he and Greg Taylor, M.D., director of medical affairs at Cape Fear Valley Health System Fayetteville, N.C., began traveling the country, holding two-day workshops for chief executive officers and medical directors.
A taste of the workshops will be given at Dye's and Taylor's two presentations titled "Physician Leadership -- Preparing for the 21st Century." The sessions are set for 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday, March 2.
The workshops offer a framework to assess physician leadership development programs, as well as lessons in identifying, educating and integrating physician leaders. They feature a brainstorming session in which CEOs and medical directors evaluate their systems and generate ideas for developing physician leadership.
The next morning, ideas are scribbled on giant note pads. Sometimes as many as 50 sheets cover the wall.
"What we're trying to do is to get people to aggressively go through a formalized process of developing a physician leadership development and involvement program," Dye says.
The workshops will be held six times at locations around the country this year after the ACHE congress. In addition, a workshop will be held Feb. 28, before the meeting.
The ACHE session will focus on what physician leaders need to know and how they learn best. It also will address ways to encourage doctors to voice their opinions.
Not every administrator agrees that physicians should sit at the strategy table. Dye thinks that's wrong.
"The physician is really the initiator both clinically and legally in the care process," he says. "Right or wrong, that's our healthcare system."