The Physician as Magician

Article Revised: March 26, 2019

At the recent ASQ WCQI conference speaker Robert E Matthews stated that doctors are opposed to process in their hearts. Physicians are taught in medical school that it is the individual doctor that makes all of the difference in healthcare. Of course, the physician is a critical component of success. However, the physician is a member of a team. He or she works within a system that includes (we hope) a defined process, laboratories, pharmacists, nurses, physician assistants, patients, families, other care providers, payers, and a host of others.

Process excellence is, of course, the focus of this author. While it is but one of many factors, it is the one most often overlooked in healthcare. Robert Matthew’s presentation presented a case in point. While the national average for hypertension control hovers around 31%, Matthew’s case study showed that a group of 50 physicians were able to achieve levels of over 98%. The accomplishment had to overcome the perception that physicians were magicians capable of  achieving spectacular results without the need for a defined process. Once the group of physicians agreed to link their compensation to compliance with the mutually agreed to process, improvement to the unprecedented breakthrough levels was achieved.

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