Effective Hiring Practices the Key to Successful Physician-Hospital Integration

Chemistry is considered an essential element to the success of any professional sports team. The right fit can indeed make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. That's true in health care as well.

Chemistry is considered an essential element to the success of any professional sports team. The right fit can indeed make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

That’s true in health care as well, where hospitals and health systems have been actively employing physicians and purchasing physician groups in an effort to create clinically integrated networks, and shore up areas of physician shortages.

Yet, according to the 2014 Kentucky Healthcare Industry Study, this integration is fraught with challenges. A total of 58% of respondents reported annual per physician losses of at least $100,000 compared to only 41% in the 2013 study.

Similarly, a report from the Medical Group Management Association reveals that the median loss for hospitals in 2012 was $176,463 per physician.

Andy McCall, a partner with national health care recruiter McCall & Lee, isn’t surprised by this trend that, despite the per-physician losses, is expected to continue throughout 2015.

“The single most important factor contributing to this is the shortage of doctors,” McCall explains. “These organizations are built based on care, and a lot of times they’re so hungry to get physicians in that they lose sight of the personality issue. As a result, you get someone who doesn’t fit with the culture or the community.”

Integration Problems

McCall says that one of the factors contributing to the hospital-physician integration challenge is the physicians joining hospitals are used to having control; they’re used to running the show, and that’s no longer the case. Hospitals that were so eager to hire these physicians are now faced with many of the attitude and personality conflicts that come with added employees.

“Physicians are getting theirs,” McCall says. “They’re making more money in this new arrangement. The hospitals are showing them that they can get paid better, and have their own built-in support staff. But the hospital CEO, in overlooking a lot of the attitude and personality conflicts that come with employees, has purchased a problem.”

That personality conflict, McCall says, is often found between physicians.

“Docs are often very critical of each other,” he says. “It’s a competitiveness. And they have to be pretty darn competitive, Type A, to get through school. But some organizations are in the position of beggars can’t be choosers, and as a result they don’t get the right personality. That’s a problem that may never get resolved.”

The Right Fit

If easing the integration problem starts with hiring the right person, then an interviewing service that puts enhanced information in the hands of decision-makers may be part of the solution. Async Interview is a software company that offers live and pre-recorded video interviewing services to health care companies. In the pre-recorded approach, candidates receive a handful of questions from employers and are invited to record their responses via web-based technology. The responses can be shared with appropriate decision-makers at their convenience.

“The big benefit is visual,” says Christopher Young, Async’s CEO. “With the traditional process, it’s usually just the recruiter interviewing the candidate, asking basic screening questions, and then typing up a handful of notes. But with a recorded video you can share that video with the decision committee so they’re all hearing and seeing the exact same thing. So you can have a healthier discussion about that candidate rather than referring to someone else’s notes, or someone else’s initial decision or gut call.”

What type of critical information do entities like the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, or Mainline Health want to know? Young says the focus is on value types of questions. Hospitals want to make sure that physicians are aligned with the organization’s core values that are tied into its culture.

“Organizations can get the hard skills on their resume for further discussion about certifications,” Young says. “But they really want to make sure the physician’s values are aligned with those of the hospital.”

Cost Effectiveness

For physician candidates, the live and pre-recorded interviewing option provides greater access to more job opportunities. And for the perspective recruiter, whether it be a hospital, health system or multi-physician practice, being able to see a candidate in the screening process provides significant intangible value.

“For physicians and directors who aren’t necessarily trained in how to evaluate candidates, the more information you can provide them, the easier it’s going to be for them to make the right decision,” Young says. “And it ensures getting top-notch hires who will stay in the organization for a long time.”

The process is also cost effective.

“In the grand scheme of things, the travel and time savings (of bringing in candidates) is miniscule in comparison to the cost savings of making sure you hire the right person,” he says. “And retention of an employee starts with making sure you hire the right employee.”