Physician Leadership

Before COVID-19 upended everyones lives, I had the pleasure of speaking with Stacey Richter for the Relentless Health Podcast.  The topic centered on the important and oftentimes diminished role of physicians and other clinicians in leadership at healthcare institutions.  

Over the last several weeks the topics we discussed have been playing out in real time across the US.  There have been stories of administrators in hospitals reprimanding physicians for “scaring” patients while wearing masks or physicians losing their jobs for speaking out on lack of PPE.  

We have also seen strong leadership from clinicians and administrators.  We have seen doctors and nurses volunteer to work in some the most affected areas of the country.  We have seen some of the most creative solutions for PPE to provide safer working conditions for all members of the hospital.  (Check out what my colleagues are doing here and here.)

The task at my institution has been setting up a telemedicine program for thousands of clinicians and their staff.  In a time where we need to keep patients safely at home and clinicians healthy, telemedicine is a necessary instrument.  In the process of deploying our solution rapidly, our team has witnessed two very important realities that Stacey and I spoke about on the podcast.

First, clinician leadership is absolutely key.  The Physician and Nursing leaders that stood up, went first and were honest in expectations were fundamentally important to the success of our project.  Individual divisions had different levels of success and speed of adoption.  The underlying factor was the strength of the clinical leader driving change in my opinion.

The second component is that for truly big issues, pandemic-level issues, there has to be a partnership moving in lock step between clinical leaders and administrative ones.  Neither side can really do it alone.  For the monumental challenges we currently face, and the ones we will face in the coming months due to COVID fallout, we have to work together.  Each side must walk in the others shoes, see that perspective and agree on the milestones and endpoints.  It has to be a partnership and I have been lucky enough to witness that firsthand.  

Check out the podcast here.

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