3 Factors That Affect Clinician Buy-In

Hospitals can have all the healthcare innovation they want. But it makes no difference unless hospitals can get their clinicians to implement it into their practice. So, how does a hospital go about doing that? 3 factors should be considered.

The Motivators

There is all this talk about clinician “buy-in”. But what does this actually mean? Is it as simple as paying clinicians more? Is it all just a matter of “wowing” the clinician with a new piece of tech nobody has ever thought of before?  Hospitals and stakeholders should take into account the motivations of clinicians at extrinsic level and intrinsic levels. Consider these definitions as expressed by Gagne and Deci:

Intrinsic motivation involves people doing an activity because they find it interesting and derive spontaneous satisfaction from the activity itself. Extrinsic motivation, in contrast, requires an instrumentality between the activity and some separable consequences such as tangible or verbal rewards, so satisfaction comes not from the activity itself but rather from the extrinsic consequences to which the activity leads.

Extrinsic motivation, it seems, would be easiest to fulfill. Hospitals would simply have to determine rewards to clinicians for their productivity while adopting a new payment model or technology. Examples could be an increase in pay, bonus incentives, and peer recognition. However, while it does play a role, extrinsic motivators such as money and recognition are not enough. In fact, a McKinsey report revealed that hospitals hold this misconception that clinicians can drive healthcare transformation as long as they have proper financial compensation. But the conversation should start at a much a deeper level. It should include intrinsic motivators.  As Toby Cosgrove MD and Thomas Lee wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “Accordingly, discussions with physicians about reorganizing care cannot begin with talk of contracts and compensation. Instead the focus must be squarely on the stakes for patients.” I think it would be safe to assume that amongst most clinicians, the primary intrinsic motivator would be the satisfaction derived from successfully treating the patient. This is perhaps why the idea of telemedicine is such a popular one. The promise of this remote monitoring technology can give clinicians a better view on a patient’s progress outside of the clinic and help lead to better treatment decisions and outcomes. This, in my view, can appeal very strongly to a clinician’s intrinsic motivation, especially if this technology can also engage their patients effectively.

Finding The Right Clinician

Even if transforming healthcare is the best and most obvious course of action, implementing it into clinical practice and amongst an entire staff is another story. If certain innovations, say for example, telerehabilitation are adopted, it will likely have a direct impact on how clinicians practice. And trying to implement this against resistant clinicians will only prove to cause delay and frustration amongst all parties. Hospitals and stakeholders, therefore, have to focus on only finding clinicians that are willing to become champions and early adopters. This is especially true when it comes to technology because there will always be learning involved. And engaged clinicians will be able to provide the right clinical feedback to drive improvements on how the technology can be implemented into the overall practice. Only after these champions become experts in their innovation and produce tangible results will these resistant clinicians come around.

Empowering Clinicians

Healthcare transformation requires tremendous support from stakeholders and administrators. This is especially true if you consider the onslaught of regulatory changes clinicians now face, in addition to the volume of patients and documentation that they already handle on a daily basis. This is why, in addition to finding the right champion, hospitals must provide enough resources, training, and education to support the clinician. Hospitals must communicate with their clinicians, clarify the rewards, process of care, and other changes that will take effect. A failure to do so can cause hospitals to miss the mark on their innovation goals and easily generate a negative response from clinicians.

Yes, innovation in this ever changing healthcare world is important. But you can’t forget the clinicians that ultimately have to put this innovation into practice. Implementing new health care policy and adopting new technology without taking into account the needs of the clinician will simply not cut it.

by Ben Torres