7 Spine Surgeons & Industry Experts on Forming Positive Relationships With Hospitals


Seven spine surgeons and industry experts discuss the best ways to form a positive relationship with local hospitals. Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. We invite all spine surgeon and specialist responses. Next week's question: What is the biggest reason for the increase in spinal fusions over the past several years?

Please send responses to Laura Miller at laura@beckershealthcare.com by Wednesday, April 11 at 5pm CST.

Q: How can spine surgeons build a positive relationship with local hospitals?

Patricia J. Bowling, CEO, Texas Back Institute, Plano:
Understanding the hospital's perspective is very important in building a strong working relationship. The physicians often know the value they bring to the table, but they also need to appreciate the value the hospital brings to the table. This provides a more collaborative approach to providing growth opportunities and resolving issues.   

There is often a cultural divide between the physicians and the hospital that is a result of a historical lack of trust. Transparency in communications can alleviate the trust issues, which again contributes to a collaborative effort to achieve short-term and long-term goals of both organizations. Identifying common goals and working with the hospital to develop a plan to achieve the goals will contribute to a strong working relationship.   

It is important for both organizations to do what they promise to do and stay true to their word. Consistency in actions and words provides an environment of trust. Physicians are often in a position to recognize opportunities for improvements within the hospital setting. Providing constructive feedback to the right members of management can provide positive results, whereas, disruptive behavior in the wrong setting can only deteriorate relationships. Physicians that participate constructively in developing solutions to problems will positively impact hospital relationships as well.

Ara Deukmedjian, MD, Founder, Deuk Spine Institute, Melbourne, Fla.:
Alignment of goals. Find common ground with the hospital. Spend time with the hospital's executives to better understand what they want from you. Often you will discover that what the hospital wants from you is something unexpectedly simple and easy for you to provide them. Do your best to meet their needs and ask for little in return. You will quickly become one of their favorite physicians if you have the ability to problem solve (their problems) and are willing to act in their best interest at medical staff meetings.

Walter Eckman, MD, Founder, Aurora Spine Center, Tupelu, Miss.:
Our town has only one hospital. However, we are convinced that practice building based on minimally invasive surgery will enrich a surgeon's relationship with his hospitals. Same-day surgery solves many problems for hospitals (almost no transfusions, infections, never events) and gives lower costs for fusion procedures.  

J. Brian Gill, MD, Spine Surgeon, Nebraska Spine Center, Omaha:
Building a positive relationship with local hospitals takes keeping their interests in mind when performing procedures such as operating on patients that come from their health system and not taking them to another competing hospital. Additionally, performing procedures in a cost conscious manner helps hospitals to be able to provide that service to the community.  

Michael Gleiber, MD, Founder, Michael A. Gleiber, MD, PA, Jupiter, Fla.:
The most important factor is navigating the political arena when you are new to a hospital staff. Affability, availability, and lastly ability make one fairly well known in a short period of time. Getting to know the folks in the OR and treating them with respect is very important. The same goes for the administration and medical staff office.

Khawar Siddique, MD, Spine Surgeon, Beverly Hills Spine Surgery, Calif.:
Work from the bottom up (be friends with the cleaning staff first then the CEO).

Paul Slosar, MD, President, SpineCare Medical Group, San Francisco Spine Institute:
I have found that simply dropping in and casually discussing issues on a weekly basis with administrators (who have an open door policy) sets the stage for a friendly and cooperative relationship. Become a partner in decisions and be willing to compromise in order to get big problems solved. Doctors, unlike most business people, are not used to compromising and that can be detrimental to any dynamic relationship.

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