Years ago when we were entering medical school, the role of a physician could be summed up as “to provide direct medical care one patient at a time.” But that was then. The now of practicing medicine has changed dramatically and presents a new range of complexities and challenges that broaden the role of the physician. Medical care is certainly still the priority, but to lead complex clinical programs, integrated service lines, and industry enterprises, physicians must focus on much more than direct patient care. Now, more than ever, our industry needs qualified physician leadership.
Physicians today are expected to lead a care team, manage an ever-evolving landscape of changing patient demands and dynamics, integrate new data and technology tools into their practices, respond to pressures to collaborate with nontraditional partners, and master value-based payment models.
The description of a modern-day physician leader is someone who is part strategist, part steward, part catalyst, and part operator. Effective physician leaders have to think more broadly and strategically than ever, communicate those strategies well, understand their people, and inspire change in an industry constantly spinning on the innovation axis.
To better learn and manage in this increasingly complicated health care world, many doctors and other health care professionals have gone back to school to earn their MBAs. But an MBA doesn't necessarily make us effective leaders. The real value of physician leadership lies in the interplay of clinical, business, and cognitive skills. Emotional intelligence, developing and sustaining a teaming culture, and using collaborative decision-making with patients and their families – these are some of the characteristics that can translate to leadership success.
This shift that broadens the role of the physician is extending to our medical schools as well. As discussed recently in DU Press, building team-based care and coordination into the curriculum is becoming more common. Other new competencies are around data retrieval (as opposed to memorization) and delivering a high-quality consumer experience. We're starting to write a new chapter on how doctors are and should be educated – and how these lessons can guide future generations of physicians as they reshape mainstream medicine.
To help health care professionals adapt and thrive in this new world of medicine, Deloitte Consulting LLP, in partnership with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has launched the inaugural Physician Leadership Academy. We, like medical schools and residency programs, see that physicians need to learn new skills to meet the demands of physician leadership. The Physician Leadership Academy focuses on the leadership skills that a traditional medical education and business education do not. It's designed to equip physicians with the skills required to successfully lead in multiple domains, a deep understanding of the forces impacting and changing the dynamics of health care landscape, and insights into their own leadership styles.
As the health care industry continues to shift from traditional fee-for-service based models toward a new era that is more collaborative and outcome-based, physician leaders will require new skills, bolder decision-making and next-level business strategies. The next phase of health care requires physician leaders who are innovative, interdisciplinary thinkers with the skills to envision and shape the future.
Learn more about the Physician Leadership Academy.