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Analyzing Physician Engagement - Physician Ratings of Admin Skills

In this article by Dr. Randy Carden, Senior Research Consultant, from the most recent issue of HealthStream's PX Advisorwe seek to answer two questions that have recently been posed to HealthStream by a client who participates in our physician satisfaction and engagement survey, Physician Insights. This is a standard survey that hospitals typically administer to their medical staff each year to obtain physician feedback and to monitor progress on improvement activities. A key component of this survey is to ask medical staff members to rate administration on a variety of factors—one of which is “administrative skill.” The questions our client posed are these:

Q1: Do ratings of administrative skill vary by physician demographics?
Q2: What are the key drivers of administrative skill?

The Analysis

To explore research question #1, several comparisons were completed. Specifically, ratings of administrative skill were compared across gender, specialty, years of practice at the hospital, and age of physician. The first comparison related to gender of the physician and differences in ratings of administrative skill. Male physicians rated administrative skill significantly higher than female physicians.

A second comparison was performed to explore whether ratings of administrative skill varied across specialty category (hospital-based, medical specialist, primary care, psychiatry, surgical specialist, or other). It was found that physicians with different specialties varied significantly in ratings of administrative skill.

Follow-up analyses indicated that primary care physicians rated administrative skill significantly higher than hospital-based physicians or surgical specialists. No other signif icant differences were found between specialties.

A third analysis was conducted to determine whether ratings by physicians with differing numbers of years served at the hospital (less than 2, 2 - 5, 6 - 10, or 10+) varied on administrative skill ratings. It was found that the number of years at the hospital was significantly related to administrative skill. Physicians who spent less than 2 years at thehospital rated administrative skill significantly higher than any other group. Those who had spent 6 - 10 years at the hospital rated skill significantly lower than the other groups. No other differences were found between groups.

A fourth analysis was conducted to determine whether age group (less than 35, 35 - 44, 45 - 54, 55 - 64, and 65 or older) differed on ratings of administrative skill. Age group was found to be significantly related to administrative skill, or older age group had significantly higher ratings than any other age group. This was followed by the 55 - 64 age group, with ratings significantly higher than the remaining age groups. There were no significant differences among the younger age groups.

Discussion and Conclusion

Our research indicates that there ARE demographic differences in how medical staff members rate administrative skill. Specifically…

  • Male physicians rated administrative skill significantly higher than female physicians
  • Primary care physicians rated administrative skill significantly higher than hospital-based, medical, and surgical physicians
  • Physicians that spent less than 2 years at the hospital rated administrative skill significantly higher than any other group
  • Physicians in older age groups had significantly higher ratings than any other age group

These findings show that hospital administrators might improve their perceived skill level among medical staff members by focusing most closely on female members of their medical staff, specialists and hospital-based physicians, and physicians who have tenure of more than two years at the facility.

The research further suggests that perceptions of skill are based largely on communication and personal interaction between administrators and medical staff members. Hospital administrators are not so much judged by their physicians for the efficiency of the emergency department, the scheduling of the operating rooms, or the overall quality of the patient care provided as they are by their personal, meaningful communication with physicians and their responsiveness and follow-through when issues arise.

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