Build Your Physician Onboarding Process Map in 5 Steps
Over the past two decades I’ve been a recruiter, liaison, service line administrator and business development director. This experience has given me a wealth of insight into the potential pitfalls of improper new physician onboarding. And in this blog, I’d like to share this insight—specifically how to build a physician onboarding process map that ensures long-term physician retention.
The best hospital and clinic administrators know that an intentional and strategically constructed onboarding program is critical to the success of newly acquired providers. These teams aren’t alone. According to recruiting and retention surveys collected by organizations like Merritt Hawkins and the AMGA, medical groups see about 7% turnover. Additionally, it’s not unusual for a hospital to lose half of the physicians it recruits over 5 years!
Sure, a methodized approach to onboarding takes an initial investment of resources from your organization. But, a more structured onboarding program will yield results that are sustainable and far-reaching by increasing physician satisfaction and loyalty. It will also prevent lost income from turnover and the costly errors associated with credentialing, billing and processing new physicians.
Ready to start? Here are 5 proven steps for building your successful physician onboarding process map:
1. Bridge the transition gap.
There’s a period of time between when a physician signs on with your organization and when they join their new community. During this transition, new physicians sometimes report feeling disconnected. This feeling, along with other stressors related to taking on a new position, can lead to unwanted provider attrition.
To resolve this, identify all of the touchpoints within your organization that can help new physicians bridge potential gaps during this transitional phase. In my experience, these often include: recruitment conversations, relocation, credentialing, orientation, practice/system integration, practice development and community integration.
2. Eliminate growth obstacles.
When recruiting and onboarding new physicians, education is essential to ensure they assimilate well with your organization and support its growth strategies. Be committed to transparency by having candid conversations about expectations on both sides (e.g. a physician’s need for equipment and staff, or your expectations that he/she will reach a set level of productivity in a given amount of time). This type of open communication can be the key to a lasting and mutually beneficial partnership.
In addition, don’t forget to give new physicians the lay of the land when it comes to your organization’s political dynamics, which can be difficult for new entrants to navigate without help.
3. Support growth with strategic partnerships.
One crucial element for your physician onboarding process map is helping new providers make connections with others inside the practice, health system and community at large. Use any PRM and/or business intelligence tool at your disposal as the conduit(s) for your newly employed physicians to build strategic partnerships with operational leaders, referral partners and others. Basically, anyone who can enable your physicians to successfully care for their patients.
4. Acknowledge & support life outside the practice.
According to retention surveys, about 85% of physician relocations are influenced by the needs of their family. Considering this statistic, paying attention to the wellbeing of your new physician’s family is not only valuable, it’s crucial to helping that physician’s long-term partnership with your organization. Provide new physicians and their families with networking opportunities and other resources that will allow them to grow strong roots in your community.
5. Follow up for long-term retention.
In an ideal world, physician attrition wouldn’t exist. You could recruit and onboard new physicians, get them set up and move on to the next. However, this isn’t realistic.
Remembering to check-in with new providers is easy when they’re in the middle of onboarding and have specific needs you’re scheduled to take care of at key points tied to their start date. It’s keeping up a regular check-in cadence post-onboarding that’s critical when building your physician onboarding process map.
Schedule regular maintenance visits with new physicians after the typical onboarding period ends to ensure they’re adjusting well, and to uncover what additional professional or personal support they may need to ensure a smooth transition. Making a habit of this will ensure that you are aware of any risks of their leaving the organization or the community and have time to work through these concerns before the initial contract terms expire.
Increase physician satisfaction. Reduce provider attrition.
These 5 steps will get you well on your way towards a structured onboarding program that will increase satisfaction, reduce attrition and yield the outcomes your organization looks for in a newly acquired physician. If you want more tips and guidelines, download our Physician Onboarding Tool Kit.