The Critical Partnership Between the Clinical and Business Teams

clinical and business relationships

Healthcare GDP is 9% of US GDP, 4th overall, weighing in at $2.3T. It’s also the largest source of government spending, at 28% of the federal budget (nearly doubling the DoD budget for the largest military in the world).

Balancing clinical and quality of care requirements while also dealing with shrinking reimbursements and major consolidation in the industry means navigating an economic juggernaut, even for smaller medical groups. Learning to be effective in that space can be the pivotal topic that is the #1 make or break for any organization. Today, we want to unpack the odd but wonderful portmanteau of “biznical”, a strategy of clinical and business decision-making in healthcare that emphasizes patients, clinical teams while ensuring success on the business side.

The blend of clinical and business decision making is the foundation of any future sustainability and success in today’s healthcare world. it’s important to dial into the following:

  • How are important decisions made today in healthcare?
  • How do non-hospital groups align and sync up clinical and business objectives and priorities?
  • How can non-hospital medical groups educate and communicate the importance of each?
  • What happens when revenue comes from a different source than direct patient or client impact?
  • How are patient-centered offerings balanced with working and complying with insurance carriers, regulations, and an environment that is prioritizing cost savings?

It’s a must to get the buy-in from the clinical team to help work towards ensuring financial viability within your practice. At the same time the business side needs to understand and support a high-quality patient-centered model. When one side continues to dominate the priorities, decision-making, and leadership, the practice may have short-term financial gains while suffering long-term challenges like clinical quality, patient care, and culture that could threaten the livelihood of the organization. On the flip side, prioritizing all clinical objectives will offer a great reputation and quality of care in the long-term, but if the company goes bankrupt before any of that can come to fruition, the mission is lost.

A true “biznical” partnership will thrive both now and in the future to achieve the optimal balance which will be a tremendous competitive advantage. It’s easy to hide each other’s purpose, information, and goals chalking it up to “the other side will never get it because they don’t have this expertise”, but that is the wrong approach.

With all of the above in mind, we created this blog series to help improve this facet within your practice or healthcare organization. We will bring real experiences, challenging situations, and topics that have strong pros and cons from both the clinical and business sides. We encourage you to share your questions, stories, and expertise so we can evolve this into a best practice thread focusing on the most important aspect of the industry today… BIZNICAL. We hope you find this information valuable while picking up a few resources and tips to avoid mistakes and improve the communication between these two ends. We also hope to assist leadership that has to combine these forces daily and with the most crucial decisions of the organization.

Stay tuned for more and welcome to the BIZNICAL World!

The Clinical World from a Business Lens

As non-clinicians, there are many challenges professionals with business backgrounds have to navigate when attempting to become a leader in the healthcare space. A lack of clinical credentials, the (sometimes well-earned) industry connotation that comes with being a “business person,” can make everything an uphill fight until trust is established. And trust has to be established.

It’s critical for the business side to educate themselves about the clinical world, the ancillary services, and how a specialty group can impact both clients and partners. It’s also critically important to demonstrated a work ethic that shows a commitment to the clinical mission, and an understanding of the most important clinical components to best support the clinical staff. It has to be about demonstrating real support to the clinical teams (both your own, and clients), internalizing that the quintuple aim as a structure that business then builds around, and recognizing that clinical-first organizations are the happiest and grow the fastest, rising the tide of business along with their success.

Only then, can the education of the business side to clinical teams begin. Clinical operations leader’s passion and commitment to patient care gave is a motivation to be at our best. Based on Scope partner experience and industry trends in a world of consolidation, it’s the best approach to turn independent practices into a collaborative national organization.

A Clinician’s Perspective – What is the Leadership Team Even Doing Up There?

A clinician’s first thought is about delivering quality care to the patient. They are at bedside with empathy and vigilance. There’s rarely time to pause and think about what affects each department on the administrative side; whether it be how many supplies and meds to making sure that it is documented for the billing team. Clinicians rarely need to verify insurance or if the credentialing paperwork is up to date for a surgeon. With headlines of administrative bloat, labor disputes, and tightening belts that only seem to impact clinicians and their patients, it can be hard to even understand what the back office is even doing, let along take the time to grasp it with its own necessary empathy.

To align as an organization, each part of the team, clinical and administrative alike, need to align as an organization. If all parties can understand and embrace all aspects of the organization then they can work cohesively in delivering the highest standard of care. Then, they can then begin to form a culture that shares the same message, goals, and mission. Everyone is working towards the greater good just in different ways, Understanding the business side of things allows clinical staff to provide better care to patients and ultimately keep the practice itself healthy. Clinicians can sometimes consider themselves “makers” in a world of “takers.” But learning the hours put in behind the computers and on the telephones working to get our teams paid and keep the lights on can be eye opening. The time spent marketing, developing new business, researching, and staying ahead of the competition can be inspirational with the right understanding. When business and clinical are working in sync, clinicians can see first-hand how impactful and productive this can be to the organization as a whole.

Instead of assuming the worst or being in the dark about the areas and personnel teams may not fully understand, it’s always the better path to get acquainted with the work. 99% of the time, it leaves people amazed and appreciative of everything they do, and then realize that without all of that, doctors, nurses, and techs couldn’t do what they do day in and day out. Having the peace of mind in knowing non-clinical team members also have the best interest of the patient in mind and are making sure back-office distractions and obstacles don’t get in the way of patient outcomes allows clinicians to focus solely on the health of the patient. Coming together builds a very bright future for any group.

The Recipe for Success: The Peanut Butter and Jelly of Clinical and Business Perspectives

More and more, “corporate medicine” is a dog whistle warning for doctors and nurses. And given the number of health systems and companies that are employing clinicians and purchasing their private practices, it’s hard to blame them. The big want to get bigger for economies of scale, leverage, control, and protection. It is a strategy that has worked well in other industries, so why not healthcare? The issue here is unlike a widget or software, the item impacted most in the healthcare industry is patients’ livelihood, care, and long-term health, not to mention clinician quality of life. While other products and services might impact people, there is no other industry where life-and-death is a prominent concern. This scales up to a systemic level: healthcare has what’s known as an inelastic demand: traditional economic competition rarely moves the needle in the favor of the patient. So the choice has to be made out of ethics and optimization, and never just the bottom line.

There has always been a business side to patient care and saving lives, but it has been behind the scenes. Now being at the forefront, any change or cost-cutting comes with an assumption that it is for the bottom line or because non-clinical personnel is making decisions. As a non-clinician, how do you passionately work in the best interest of the patients and providers, along with the system, without the immediate negative connotation that you are part of the problem rather than part of the solution? Business leaders can build relationships and demonstrate your good intent, but it takes several years to see how those decisions play out. The truth is, we don’t have that much time and need to act now.

Healthcare is very challenging work, and incredibly high stakes, and the role of the business side is, in the opinion of AAC, a fight for a long-term solution that keep clinicians and patients thriving. The business team needs to act as a resource and provide unlimited support so that the clinical team can provide quality care stress-free – especially in our industry that is experiencing shrinking reimbursement. While at first there may be assumptions, backlash, and resistance from the clinical team, leadership has to to continue making decisions with their best interest in mind so that you can prove you are on their side. Overtime, clinical teams will realize that their trusted business advisors are there to take care of them so that they can continue doing what they do best: providing the best outcome, care, and experience for the patient.

While there continue to be opportunities for investors, systems, and conglomerates to take advantage of our fragile healthcare system, it is time for the dyad of passionate physicians, nurses and their strategic, business-minded counterparts to pull through and provide a new tomorrow. We can only do this together and the time is now. This ethical, human-first “biznical” approach has never been more important.

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