As finance executives and physician leaders respond to the demands of value-based care, they may run into roadblocks to forming a strong partnership. Leaders can overcome these issues by taking a positive approach to combining their divergent skills and perspectives.
Cultivate professional empathy
Both parties should seek to understand the motives and constraints of their leadership partners.
Finance leaders are typically cautious by nature and fiscally conservative. Physician executives, meanwhile, may have a higher tolerance for risk and a stronger sense of patient advocacy.
Physicians are also natural problem-solvers, assessing a situation quickly to find a diagnosis
and move to a course of treatment. This approach can create problems if it means pushing change before the organization is ready, but it also injects important energy into critical initiatives.
Create supportive structures
Finance leaders should establish standing meetings with their physician counterparts to address matters of mutual concern. For example, the CFO and chief medical officer might set up a monthly meeting to review KPIs and value-based initiatives. Regular meetings allow financial and clinical leaders to get to know each other personally and find common ground.
Taking this idea one step further, healthcare organizations should consider adopting a dyad leadership model. Under such a model, an administrative executive and a clinical executive are designated co-leaders for a key function, strategy or initiative. Since all finance
decisions influence the clinical aspects of
the business and vice versa, this approach ensures no one feels like they are making decisions in a silo.
At times, finance-physician partnerships will require conflict resolution. Professional coaching and mentoring can help teams develop the
skills to navigate these issues when they occur.
All leaders benefit from learning to avoid taking
a defensive posture and instead focus on processes and solutions that create the best shared outcomes.
Pay attention to soft skills
Accustomed to sitting behind the steering wheel, physicians may struggle to settle into a team approach where others have the same or more authority. A formal physician leadership program can help physicians enhance their self-awareness, learn better communication skills and begin to master critical conversations.
Finance leaders can also benefit from soft-skill interventions in the context of their partnerships with physicians. The focus of this training tends to be on emotional intelligence, leadership agility and a people- and results-oriented management approach. The training can lead to more-effective meetings, better working relationships and calm handling of critical issues.