QUESTION: I am a new physician CEO at a physician group affiliated with a hospital system. I get calls and e-mails from physicians directly when they have concerns about the communication/behavior/responsiveness of other physicians, before any medical staff involvement. There is an agreement to share information between medical staff committees and the employer group. How should I respond?
ANSWER: It would be a good idea to develop a policy for the group as to how issues are triaged and addressed. If the issues primarily involve conduct in the hospital setting, as opposed to employment, you could still choose to handle them initially within the group process (and consider subsequent reporting if the issue is not resolved) or you could report the concerns to the appropriate individual in the hospital. That may be the CMO, a medical staff officer, or Leadership Council as described in a Medical Staff Professionalism Policy.
While it may be suitable for you to handle some issues in an informal way by your personal immediate involvement, too much of that style of intervention may not be a good use of your time. Many issues are best directed through appropriate channels within either the group or the hospital/medical staff. (That doesn’t necessarily mean too much bureaucracy!) There may be more to a story than what is reported by one person; often, more fact-gathering is needed.
For issues that implicate medical staff performance, in some systems, a group’s CMO may be appointed to a hospital medical staff peer review committee or may be invited to the Leadership Council or similar group. A Leadership Council is commonly composed of the officers, hospital CMO and key support staff, and can convene regularly or when an issue involving the hospital practice or behavior of an employed physician is to be triaged.