What makes some physicians so difficult to convince of the need for change?

I’m talking aboutphysicians who are extremely unhappy with the current state. They complain to anyone who will listen. They threaten to take their patient volume elsewhere. They tell horror stories about orders they wrote that weren’t filled, wrong items in the orthopedic implant tray, results that took days to be communicated.

And here we come, Healthcare Black Belts to save they day! (We think.)

For these unhappy physicians, nothing gives them confidence that an improvement project will work.

1. It will take too much time. Three months? Way too long.

2. Data-based? If it’s not clinical data, it doesn’t count.

3. Measurement system analysis? That doesn’t square with what they observe.

4. Voice of the customer? THEY’RE the customers! So give them what they want!

You are probably familiar with the saying,”When you’ve asked one physician for an opinion… you’ve asked one physician.” Meaning that, in order to understand what physicians want,you have to ask every physician for their opinion since no one will admit to being able to speak for anyone else (including department chairs). And by the time you’ve gotten around to all the physicians, the first ones have probably changed their minds.

I haven’t come across a miracle cure. I’ve used one-on-one conversations, 10 minutes on the department meeting agenda, briefs at the Medical Executive meeting, special “operations” meetings with internists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, etc. A key stakeholder physician who has a positive outlook and is in a position to influence others is great… if you can find one; some of my fellow Black Belts have been very fortunate that way.

With physicians having such an impact on our ability to provide consistent outcomes in our healthcare processes, it’s a challenge dealing with individuals who believe that only their individual way is the right way.

Does anyone else have some enlightening words of wisdom to share, on the subject of physicians and improvement projects?

About the Author