Practicing Excellence

March 18, 2008

I have the great fortune to speak with physicians nationwide about the passion they have for making a difference, especially in the lives of their patients. With Doctor’s Day approaching on March 30, I have asked Dr. Stephen Beeson, Studer Group physician coach and author of Practicing Excellence, to share some thoughts…


Over the past eight years I have had the amazing opportunity and privilege to coach and train thousands of physicians from all over the country. Over the course of these years others and I have worked to distill and refine what works best to engage physicians and improve performance. We have had good results working with health care leaders and physician medical staffs around the country to improve the patient perception of care provided by physicians.It is clear now that performance reigns in health care. HCAHPS, Pay for Performance, and Medicare Reform are now regulating and rewarding organizational performance. Those systems that do better will win. Unfortunately, health care leaders struggle with organizational improvement if systems and leadership are not in place to create vision, measurement, training, and accountability to assemble a culture of performance.

With all this in mind, another challenge is answering the question, “What do we do with our docs?”

Here are suggestions:

  • Align physicians to a Culture of Excellence. Before physicians will change their behavior they must believe the decision to do things differently is based upon logic and evidence. Physician engagement must begin with creating and communicating the case for service as a pathway to improved clinical outcomes, marketplace reputation, malpractice risk reduction, and the quality of his or her own work life.
  • Train physicians using evidence-based behaviors. Evidence-based behaviors are behaviors that predictably improve patient perceptions based on historical health system evidence. Excellence-driven organizations invest in the improvement and development of their physicians using these behaviors that drive outcomes. This tactical training improves physicians’ ability to create patient loyalty, drive compliance with medication regimens and raise the performance of the clinical staff who look to them for leadership. (Click here to access a tool on establishing a first impression with physicians.)
  • Select physicians that fit the culture. You can train and develop a physician to become great, or you can select high performing physicians who match your culture. (The latter is far easier.) Physician selection has historically been an ad hoc process, creating variability and unpredictability of physician performance. Behavior-based interviewing is a mechanism to select for the important physician characteristics that will position your group for success. Behavioral interviewing uses scripted questions that assess physician competencies including teamwork, compassion, clinical judgment and problem solving, communication, and leadership.

Practicing Excellence has always been about providing physicians evidence-based behaviors and guidance that have created results in every environment where they have been implemented. It is important to train physicians not only in how to treat patients, but equally important, how to treat colleagues and staff to develop an environment of teamwork, respect, collegiaty to create and sustain measurable organizational outcomes.

Stephen C. Beeson, MD is a nationally recognized presenter, practicing physician, and author of Practicing Excellence, A Physicians Manual To Exceptional Health Care. Visit www.studergroup.com/beeson.

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2 Responses to “Practicing Excellence”

  1. Dan Garman Says:

    These concepts make a lot of sense – the evidence-based approach should be something easy for physicians to grasp. I have a challenge with a physician (actually the group) constantly complaining – glass half empty – but not willing to bring solutions to the conversation. I would like to hear from others with a similar challenge and ideas as to how to get beyond the negative to have the opportunity to work in a colaborative manner to improve process. Ideas/suggestions are welcome. Thank you.

  2. Amber Coonis Says:

    What if you have a coworker that complains to you about a supervisor constantly, and no matter how many times you tell them to talk directly to your supervisor, she just responds with, “I shouldn’t have to!” The supervisor IS treating her unfairly, but she will do nothing to change it. I am friends with this coworker, so I don’t want to tell her to stop coming to me… What should I do?


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