Leadership
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Managing Physicians Is Like the Atkins Diet (02:14)

“Managing physicians is like being on the Atkins diet. You don’t actually live longer, it just feels longer,” says Richard Zane, Chief Innovation Officer for UCHealth. “How do we go about setting up a process so that that’s not the case? So that there’s an alignment of vernacular, to say the least?”

Physicians and physician leaders are motivated because they now have to perform and work in groups — and they can tell when that doesn’t go well, says Thomas Lee, NEJM Catalyst’s Leadership Board Founder. “When I first met Raffaella [Sadun], she made a comment about how many physician leaders don’t know how to run a meeting. I got very nervous. I was thinking, how did you run a meeting?” Lee has been to and run meetings that didn’t go well because they didn’t have a structure, and he’s been to meetings that have gone well, but he isn’t sure why. “It’s not just the people at the top, it’s the people in the middle, closer to the front lines, who have to start to learn these basic tools,” says Lee.

“I do believe that it’s a matter of how we communicate with management,” adds Harvard Business School Professor Raffaella Sadun. “Today, the perception is that management is an imposition from the top, and it is something that is pushing you away from doing what you’ve spent so many years trying to do, which is care, providing health to your patients.” But management, when well done, says Sadun, can help physicians provide better care and can even improve the way they feel about how they’re doing their job. “There’s a bit of context that has to be provided,” she says.

From the NEJM Catalyst event Physicians Leading | Leading Physicians at Intermountain Healthcare, July 12, 2017.

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