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The Results Are In

UH responds to the latest physician engagement survey

UH Clinical Update - December 2017

By Cliff Megerian, MD, President, UHPS

Chances are that when you first decided to become a physician, the business aspects of practicing medicine were not top of mind – or something you thought of at all.

Investing the years you did in education, residency and fellowships was about the higher purpose of making a difference in people’s lives, about healing, about a passion for research or pursuing the highest levels of a specialty that intensely captured your interest.

But as we well know, the practice of medicine in 2017 is interwoven with distinctly non-medical demands that involve administration, regulation and other tasks that fill parts of our days. Many aspects of this work are accomplished through electronic medical records.

So when we received the results of our recent Physician Engagement Survey, your experience with electronic medical records loomed large.

First, though, let me share the big-picture news. The survey showed that you, our physicians, are very proud to work here and find great satisfaction with your team, clinic, department or institute. You are pleased and confident that patients search us out for further care and that UH garners top national rankings. You have a high regard for the quality of relationships you have with co-workers, nurses and other clinicians.

But surveys like this are about uncovering what we can do better beyond what we do well. The survey gives us accurate and specific feedback on areas you find challenging.

You were quite clear about what those are. The survey results point to three primary areas of concern: discontinuation of the UpToDate program, limited ability by doctors to directly manage office and clinic staff issues, and weaknesses with the EMR and IT systems.

We hear you.

As I mentioned at our annual meeting earlier this month, we are responding to your message by reinstating UpToDate for those physicians who want to use it. We are working with HR and operational clinical leadership to better include providers in staff decision-making, and we are evaluating a plan to integrate a feature called virtual scribe within the present EMR.

We also are in active discussions with companies including AllScripts, M*Modal and IBM Watson to drive transformative changes in the EMR. These will occur under the leadership of our new Chief Information Officer, Robert Eardley. He comes to UH after directing IT at Houston Methodist Hospital. His focus here is on EMR efficiency.

We want to continue to hear from you on this topic and others.

An emerging way that we encourage physician input is the creation of multiple physician-led groups to address specific issues. Please contact me directly if you are interested in joining one of the more than half-dozen active physician advisory groups.

I also want you to know that the results of this survey have resonated at the highest levels of UH. Soon, meetings will take place with all providers in all segments of the organization to further understand the actions we need to take.

We recognize that we have work to do to better communicate bi-directionally with our physicians, and make it easier for you to play a role in advising the organization on a large scale when it comes to decision-making. This communication can and should occur on many levels – with department chairs, institute leaders, hospital presidents, physicians at the VP level, and senior leaders.

To be sure, there were sections in our survey where the UH results were well above national benchmark averages. So our focus will be on the areas that the data indicates need improvement.

Here is something to keep in mind. Although the survey was anonymous, the fact that you, our physicians, are not hesitant to indicate areas of dissatisfaction shows that UH is a system in which people feel comfortable to candidly share their views. For that, we are grateful, and we will do our best to respond within the reality that is health care today.

I wish you and your families a joyous holiday season, as we look forward to a new year.