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The Critical role of Physician CEO

May 3, 2017

Physicians are considered to be the ideal leaders in healthcare as they have been through tough training for many years and they are in charge of 100% of the healthcare dollars spent. They know medicine but unfortunately, they lack management skills such as strategic planning, negotiation, budget and financial decisions.

There is a big need for these skills to be taught and doctors to be trained to fill this gap. For better healthcare management, physicians have to be involved and engage more with extra mentoring . Only few physicians take on the leadership positions and become successful . Those physician leaders will communicate, coordinate, advise and lead so as to achieve their target goals of their particular institution.

In addition to their clinical skills,they need Information Technology skills and conflict management skills which they will be better suited for . As the non physician CEO may sometimes be treating doctors as their adversaries rather than a physician CEO who will treat fellow physicians as partners alleviating a lot of friction especially when doctors feel that have lost autonomy as they are constantly told to increase ( productivity) by increasing the number of patients seen during the work day with some doctors do not get to have a lunch break or even go to the bathroom because of the increasing work load and tasks assigned to them. Then comes other intrusive issues as they are told what medications to order ( the cheaper ones even if patients can not tolerate them, what tests to order and even which sub specialists to refer to !

A real story comes to mind about a very well respected colleague who had a very big private practice for about 24 years and when the acquisition mania started few years back, hospitals started buying small and medium size medical practices and those doctors became hospital employees. Once this senior physician who became a hospital employee and requested a physician to physician communication within the company regarding issues related to patient care. He was intercepted by a young administrator ( younger than the physician son) who found about about it and came reprimanding the senior physician that he should not have bypassed him and the doctor has to go through him ( the administrator)first!

When the senior physician explained that this is a physician to physician discussion and that the administrator is not a doctor , then the administrator simply fired the good doctor on the spot and the doctor was given only 15 minutes to clear his desk and take his belongings, but he was not allowed to have access to his patient charts from his own private practice that he spent his life building as they became hospital owned and was the good doctor was left out in the cold!

Needless to say, he suffered a very severe psychological trauma and he now had to start from scratch all over again more than 25 years later. Similar stories have been reported with some physicians resigned and went out to start their private practice one more time.Some, with Concierge Medicine to escape stress and mental torture of being controlled by a non-physician CEO who may not understand or appreciate what doctors have to go through on daily basis taking care of their patients. 

Physician CEOs in addition would appreciate autonomy that fellow physicians need to make decisions that would be good for patients and good for business most of the time. They will be better qualified as trained leaders to lead towards evidence-based, cost effective healthcare which we are all need now more than ever.

Dr Adel Eldin,MD, FACC,FACP
Board Certified Cardiologist
President, Clinical Appeals Services
Founder, CEO
Affordable Quality Healthcare Program
Founder, CEO
Wesley Chapel , Florida
President ,Society of Physician Entrepreneur, Tampa Bay Chapter

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