Guest blog by Christine Mackey-Ross
Not long ago, I interviewed two noted physician executives—John B. Chessare, MD, President and CEO, Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC), and S. Rockwell Fredrickson, MD, President and managing director of physician integration of Integris Physicians Services (IPS) in Oklahoma City—about U.S. health care’s move toward Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). I shared the plans their organizations were formulating in a recent post.
They also had some strong opinions on the skills physicians will need in order to lead in this evolving health care environment. Here’s some of what they had to say:
Dr. Chessare pointed out that realigning our organizations to serve a new health care model is not only about physicians. “It will be aligning chief financial officers, CEOs, physicians, everyone,” he said, “because the transition from transaction-based medicine to ACOs is really about integrating care.”
What is the real trick? According to Dr. Chessare, it will be getting physicians to work together toward a unified goal of doing right by the patient—and doing well financially.
Smart systems invest in people
Dr. Frederickson added that smart health care systems will invest in human capital. “We know there is a primary care shortage,” he said, “and there will be shortages in other specialties. There is a price war in the market as systems buy up primary care physicians.” And those physicians will need a much higher degree of management skills.
Dr. Chessare agreed that people will be the key for systems that succeed. Not just physicians, though. “I see bringing people together of varied capabilities and training,” he said. “So you need a physician that understands care delivery; people who understand finance; people with rich operational knowledge; nurses who understand nursing at a granular level. It’s not that every individual has to have every skill, but every individual has to be able to collaborate.”
To practice or not?
Should physician executives still practice? Drs. Chessare and Frederickson disagreed. “If I had my druthers, I would still have doctors participating in care,” said Dr. Chessare.
“Quite frankly, I think the physician executive job is so complex that practicing is a detractor as opposed to being something that would be beneficial,” said Dr. Frederickson.
The doctors agreed that the bottom line in the world of ACOs is this: We need great physician leaders who are great accountability drivers and collaborators.