While value analysis teams work closely with a diverse group of clinical and non-clinical stakeholders, engaging physicians in the new product selection and management process can be one of the most challenging pain points they experience.

Yet while increasing physician engagement can be difficult, it is crucial to achieving a clinically integrated supply chain and developing a mature value analysis infrastructure. 

The role of physician engagement has been top-of-mind for value analysis teams as recent sourcing crises have accelerated the need for cross-functional collaboration. However, the scope of physician involvement has frequently been limited to a single physician champion during a product review, rather than an integrated clinical approach.

Why is physician engagement in value analysis so hard?

There are a number of reasons for this reality, ranging from decision-making centralization and siloed data, to inconvenient collaboration methods surrounding time-burdened stakeholders.

In addition to the logistical challenges, a culture of maintaining the status quo has blocked progress in clinical transformation efforts. However, despite its challenges, physician engagement in value analysis has proven to be critical in responding to supply chain crises and value-based care while improving patient outcomes.

The difference that sets mature value analysis programs apart is largely their ability to:

  • Encourage cultural change
  • Engage physicians early in the process
  • Reframe the physician leadership model

By rethinking the flow of data within the supplier, value analysis, and clinical ecosystem, physician leaders have the ability to enable cross-functional collaboration and cooperation.

Still, while there is general consensus in the healthcare community that physician engagement and participation in value analysis is valuable, finding practical ways to increase their involvement remains a challenge.

For most systems, processes and culture are the largest barriers to success. While some organizations believe that physicians lack interest in the process, it's more likely that their inexperience in clinical integration and transformation is what keeps them on the sidelines. 

Here are ways hospitals can build an infrastructure that engages physicians in the value analysis process to ultimately achieve clinical integration.

1. Standardize processes

One of the greatest challenges to successful physician engagement is a lack of clarity surrounding new product requests and evaluation. Physicians are among the most time-burdened stakeholders and therefore need consistent processes to increase engagement.

Successful systems involve physicians from the start by having a centralized process for new-product requests. Ideally, a cloud-based process should replace a paper or email-based practice to maintain process integrity and transparency.

2. Make processes transparent

When physicians make new-product requests, they have a personal connection to the care that they provide and therefore take product decisions seriously. To increase trust, make the evaluation process as transparent as possible.

To increase physician buy-in, maintain a process that enables them to visualize where the product is in the review cycle, and maintain a channel of communications for the reasoning of approvals or denials. Additionally, when providing a product decision, provide clear clinical, safety, operational, and financial data to back up a result. Ensure that you are leveraging and communicating accurate and aggregated data to represent reasoning to data-driven physicians.

3. Act with physicians in mind

When driving physician involvement, convenience is paramount. Think of and correct details that could be creating friction in the physician experience. A simple list could include:

  • Unnecessary log-ins
  • Programs that aren’t user friendly
  • Use of point solutions
  • Busy work that creates roadblocks
  • Lack of integrated resources
  • Misdirected information
  • Lack of summarized clinical evidence
  • Use of programs without a mobile-friendly interface

Once you have an idea of what could be holding physicians back, you can create actionable goals to transform processes.

4. Encourage clinical advocacy

Evidence-based decision making relies on the clinical merit of a product. In addition to the cost and operational argument, having physicians provide clinical reasoning up front keeps stakeholders on the same page and creates physician ownership of new product requests.

Similarly, ensuring data democratization across stakeholders is a key mechanism for prioritizing clinical outcomes and physician buy-in from the start. And because physicians often are not easily swayed by industry product information, operate with a set of objective clinical evidence.

5. Make efficient use of providers' time

One of the biggest limitations to physicians joining value analysis meetings and providing beneficial contributions is time. By being sensitive to their schedules and creating proactive ways for them to engage on their own terms and schedule, health systems can greatly increase the probability of engagement.

6. Ask for physician's input and expertise

Physicians have a wealth of experience and expertise that can bring a practical view to product evaluation. Rather than seeking general questions, target specific feedback from department stakeholders who have clinical expertise in the specific category under review.

Physicians and other clinicians can provide insight into clinical benefits and the total value of a product beyond upfront cost by offering perspectives on variables such as the level of new product education required, the time required to administer care with a new technology, and the product’s potential impact on length of stay.

When administrators are intentional about engagement, the value analysis process benefits and physicians feel heard and valued. This helps support the structural and cultural shift towards a physician leadership model, where clinical integration is at the core of new product introduction. 

 

By incorporating these principles into an organization’s value analysis practice, physicians will be incentivized to engage in evaluation. Involving clinicians early on in the process helps support value analysis and supply chain resiliency by keeping clinical expertise at the center of evidence-based decision making.

Learn more about building processes that engage physicians in value analysis. 

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