Strategies to Mitigate Risk During Physician Practice Onboarding
The onboarding process for adding newly acquired or aligned physicians often has a strong and lasting impact on the overall relationship between the organization and its new clinical staff. Development of a comprehensive onboarding program that supports the organization’s strategic goals is imperative. This should include a comprehensive and integrated framework of tasks, sequencing, and timeline for major milestones, resource plan, and a communication strategy, which together will proactively mitigate onboarding risks while enhancing the physician experience.
Onboarding involves a variety of tasks, many of which are inter-related and must be sequenced and timed appropriately in order to mitigate potential disruptions or risks to physician and practice performance, while accelerating a physician’s “time to production” timeline.
A robust onboarding framework involves over 100 individual and inter-related tasks. These tasks can be organized to address the following risk categories:
- Human resources
- Physician productivity
- Finance (capital investment)
- Payer contracting
- Revenue cycle
- IT (EHR, practice management, patient portal and connectivity)
- Clinical integration (quality and cost management)
Whether one is interested in assessing or improving an existing onboarding program, or developing a new program to support physician employment or alignment models, the following guiding principles are recommended:
- A comprehensive onboarding program must be aligned to support the organization’s strategic goals (ex. clinical integration). This will include a comprehensive and detailed framework of tasks, sequencing/timeline, milestones, and resources, along with a communication strategy, which together will proactively mitigate onboarding risks.
- Develop the necessary infrastructure to ensure the successful onboarding of newly acquired practices. Our goal is to streamline the process for physicians, assigning one person as the key contact for the practice who will serve as the go-between with the various departments that are involved in the onboarding tasks.
- Provide operational guidance to the enterprise’s stakeholders involved in the onboarding process to include the office of medical affairs, provider credentialing and enrollment, marketing, patient access (scheduling templates), IT, and revenue cycle.
- Communication strategy and feedback mechanism between the business development and onboarding functions. The purpose of this deliverable is two-fold. First, the individuals responsible for the business development activities will provide knowledge transfer into the nuance of each practice and individual physicians. This ensures continuity from the acquisition tasks through the implementation tasks. Secondly, if issues arise during the onboarding process that can and should be mitigated during earlier acquisition activities, this serves as a process improvement opportunity carrying forward.
The goals of this onboarding program framework are not only to mitigate the various financial risks associated with this transition, but also to enhance the physician experience. Specifically, this program should emphasize physician service in order to facilitate positive relationships with the acquired practices which will contribute to an organizations longer term goals and strategies.
Brad Boyd is vice president of sales and marketing for Culbert Healthcare Solutions.