How Can Health Systems Engage Millennial Physicians?

Retain Millennial PhysicianMillennial physicians will benefit the healthcare industry by bringing their tech-friendly and collaborative attitudes into hospitals and health systems.

Though these young doctors may be at the forefront of digital health transformation in a value-based healthcare landscape, millennials are also notorious for being “job hoppers.”

In fact, a Gallup report found 21 percent of millennials have changed jobs within the past year, and only 29 percent report being engaged at work, or emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job.

As a result, health systems need to consider adopting a physician engagement strategy that appeals to millennial physicians to improve satisfaction and retention.

Let’s look at a few ways hospitals and health systems can engage and retain millennial physicians: 

Promotion Opportunities

As they are new to their career, millennial doctors are looking for employment opportunities that offer growth potential. In fact, some hospitals have noticed that, while baby boomers understood a physician career track typically takes time to advance, younger physicians are seeking ways to advance more quickly.

For higher job satisfaction, millennials need the ability to grow personally and professionally, as well as adequate recognition for accomplishments.

In response to this, health systems should be prepared to offer near-term growth opportunities and transparent advice to help young physicians move their career forward more quickly. This way, they are likely to be more engaged with their growing career and not look elsewhere for employment.

During the physicians’ first few months and first year, leaders should check in frequently to see how their experience is meeting expectations of growth and offer performance reviews to date.

Of course, a clear challenge in this paradigm is that growth ambitions may not correlate to actual opportunities. Health system physician staffs often lack natural progression hierarchies. Moreover, ambition doesn’t always correlate to care quality or innovation, areas that historically have been key drivers of advancement.

Health system should investigate creative ways to develop growth opportunities that can be filled by physicians. Today’s young physicians are, by necessity, more business operations savvy. There may be future operational roles that could benefit from physician perspectives, with the job requirements even allowing for physicians to remain part-time practitioners.

Today, we do see an increasing number of physicians in functional leadership roles in areas like strategic planning, business development, marketing, network management, and others. Make consideration of this an organizational philosophy and reality, and you may see better retention.

Work/Life Balance

In addition to growth opportunities, millennial physicians are also looking for a healthy balance of work hours and free time. In fact, 53 percent of millennials say a healthy work-life balance would make them stay at their job.

To accommodate this, younger physicians often prefer working shifts to being on call, so their schedule is more predictable. The majority (68 percent) of millennial physicians also prefer to have employee status instead of being independent contractors.

To keep young physicians engaged, leaders should try to offer employed positions and limit on-call time. If possible, they should reduce young physicians’ hours and offer flexible scheduling to allow time for family, travel, and hobbies. In some cases, young providers may even be willing to sacrifice potential compensation for flexibility.

Superior and Innovative Patient Care

Millennial practitioners often seek out workplaces that demonstrate and support innovation in patient care, because they want to work with a good practice that provides excellent care for their patients.

Becker’s Hospital Review notes that, “an example of care delivery innovation is using new technologies to improve quality and increase efficiencies. Millennial PCPs embrace technology, are willing to be early adopters, and tend to prioritize technology’s long-term benefits over short-term implementation challenges.”

For that reason, integrating technology to help improve the patient and physician experience, such as EHRs and Customer Relationship Management platforms (CRM), can help to keep young physicians engaged at your practice and committed to delivering superior care. Providing them an opportunity to participate in the implementation strategies is also highly advisable.

With electronic health records, physicians have access to all patient data in one location. This tool saves physicians time and promotes better treatment – time that used to be spent gathering patient data in the morning can now be spent examining and interacting with patients.

Healthcare marketers can also use the rich consumer data within a CRM, coupled with clinical data, to create more personalized journeys for pre- and post-care. For example, hospitals may see faster recovery rates if they send information about post-surgery best practices to relevant patients. Health systems with access to the data and insights of a CRM may appeal to young physicians as this technology is not only innovative, it helps to improve patient care and satisfaction, even outside of the hospital walls.

Team-Oriented Workplace

Another aspect that young physicians find important at the workplace is a sense of community. As they are new to their profession, these doctors are looking to their experienced counterparts for open communication, frequent performance feedback, and recognition of successes. A critical part of successful physician relationship management is open communication channels and creating a team structure that allows group decision-making.

Unfortunately, millennial physicians with less than three years’ tenure have reported that their workplaces aren’t welcoming to new hires. If these physicians don’t feel a connection with peers or managers, they are more likely to leave. Health systems can avoid this by providing emotional and social support in addition to focusing on clinical and technical skill sets.

One way to do so is with a mentorship program that pairs younger physicians with more tenured ones. Both parties have valuable knowledge and unique insight that can benefit the other. This also satisfies young physicians’ need for a collaborative and team-oriented practice environment that leads to improvements in care delivery. While mentoring has long been a hallmark of physician education, it is a philosophy that should become structured and consistently executed within a health system.

Final Thoughts

Millennial physicians have the potential to spearhead innovation, champion technology adoption, and foster tremendous collaboration within the healthcare industry. The issue is, this generation is often labeled as having a “grass is greener” attitude and a lack of engagement and loyalty at the workplace. To keep young doctors around, health systems need to make sure they offer promotion opportunities, workplace flexibility, technology innovation, and team collaboration.

Young doctors do care about creating meaningful relationships and delivering personalized care for their patients. They also embrace using emerging healthcare technology that focuses on patient engagement, which is exactly the type of care innovation the healthcare industry experiencing today.

How do you engage and retain millennial physicians at your health system?

Attracting and Retaining Physicians

Emilio Ruocco

Emilio Ruocco

Emilio serves as Evariant’s Vice President, Physician Practice leader, ensuring the company’s Healthcare CRM/PRM, business intelligence and marketing solutions deliver maximum strategic value to clients; with particular emphasis on physician market analytics and business development. Prior to joining Evariant, Emilio was Senior Director, Performance Technologies at The Advisory Board Company, helping hospitals yield operational insight from internal systems and external data sets. He has also served as Leader of Customer Value and Insights at Healthways, a leading disease management and wellness firm; and Vice President, Strategic Communications for pharmacy benefits management company CaremarkRx, prior to its merger with CVS Pharmacy. Before entering the healthcare sector, Emilio held business development, investor relations and communications leadership roles for several public companies in a variety of industries.
Emilio Ruocco