Medical Providers Look to Formula One Pit Crews for Process Improvement; Could “Pit Stop Protocols” Improve Recruiting Processes Too? by Andrea Santiago

[Editor’s Note: The Medicus Firm is a Physician Recruiting Firm. The article below is specifically in reference to physician recruiting; however, all of the same tips and suggestions apply to general medical office recruiting as well.]

The American Medical News ran an intriguing story this week about how the medical community can benefit from implementing “pit stop protocols” into medical treatment. By looking at the precision, coordination, and speed with which the Formula One racing pit crew handles a car, some physicians are learning to apply these methods to patient care to improve outcomes.

Upon reading the article, it became clear that these pit crew methods are proving effective for refining and improving processes and procedures in general, and there are many that could also be applied to physician recruiting.

True, split-second speed is not necessarily a factor in physician recruiting. However, overall efficiency, accuracy, communication, team-work and effective processes are all a part of a successful physician recruiting model.

How defined is your physician recruiting process at your facility? Are the processes clearly planned, duties delegated to respective parties, and opportunities for communication in place?  There are many details and pieces of information that must come together seamlessly in order for a qualified physician to be permanently placed on your physician staff or within your hospital community.

Here are a few key pointers, employed by the Formula One racing pit-stop crews, which are now being utilized in patient care and could also help improve upon your existing physician recruiting efforts:

1. Checklists, databases, and well-defined processes. According to the article, pit crews have a “well-established culture of using checklists.”  Chances are, your current physician recruiting model may have none of these types of defined checklists or check-points in place. Clearly defining each stage of the physician recruiting process, step by step, from initial identification and sourcing of a potential candidate, through the on-boarding of a hired physician, can help to ensure that all involved parties are on the same page. It takes a village to recruit a doctor: recruiting staff, other physicians, hospital executives, and community leaders often play a role in attracting physicians to a community. Therefore, involving them on a more formal level by informing them of official best practices will help everyone work together as a team to bring qualified physicians into the fold.

2. “Situational Awareness” and Leadership. The article notes how the race car driver is always aware of all the processes taking place around the car, even though they are being conducted simultaneously at lightning speed. Who is the “driver” or point-person managing your recruiting efforts? Often, there may be a battle for control amongst executives, physicians, and the hospital physician recruiting team. Who is calling the shots? Turf wars, or even confusion over who is doing what, can slow down your physician recruiting process, or even bring them to a grinding halt. Be sure that each party involved in recruiting knows who is in charge at each stage of the recruitment process. Ideally, there should be one person who ultimately is responsible for overseeing the recruiting process from start to finish, like a project leader.

3. Training. According to the AMED News article, Formula One has a “fanatical approach to training and repetition of pit stop” practices. What type of (formal) training do you provide to your physician recruiting team? Many hospitals do not even have any training program for physician recruiting. Ideally, training should involve not just the “official” hospital recruiting staff, but anyone else involved in the process. Additionally, training should be formalized so that it is easily executed, repeated, and evaluated as needed. If your training is haphazard and disorganized, most likely your physician recruiting will also be haphazard and disorganized.

4. “Communication is Key.” One important practice that physicians have learned from pit crews, according to the report, is to communicate often and well for optimum success in patient care. “Share any problems or concerns” the article states. “Discuss any family issues.” This is important in physician recruiting as well. How often have you set up a physician for an interview only to find that there was a background issue or some other major obstacle preventing you from hiring the physician? This is the type of thing professional recruiters, such as those of us at The Medicus Firm, are trained to uncover and communicate early, but often these things can be easily overlooked if there are too many people involved in the recruiting process internally.

For example, if there are many people from various departments involved in the recruiting process, and the steps and responsibilities of each person are not clearly communicated, one person may assume that the other is checking into the candidate’s background or covering important information with the candidate, while in fact the other person may be relying on someone else too!

That’s not to say you should not have a comprehensive team to help execute your physician recruiting efforts – again, one person alone cannot cover all the bases. However, they must all be involved in the regular communication, and there should be one person to help coordinate the communication, including summarizing all input on the candidate and from the candidate, and laying out a plan of action moving forward.

Kevin Perpetua, managing partner (and part owner) of The Medicus Firm, also happens to be an avid racing fan. He adds, “While the pit crew is the part of the team you see, there is another whole team of even more people behind the scenes, communicating via headset and monitoring the racecar’s data and status via a sophisticated IT system.”  This helps to manage the manageable aspects of the race, and prepare for any unexpected mishaps or obstacles on the track. “Much like racing, the competition is very tight for physicians, and one seemingly small omission or issue in the process can derail months of recruitment work, which can be costly and demoralizing to the team.”  Therefore, the training, preparation, communication, and design of clear-cut protocols used by race teams is paramount in executing a successful physician placement.


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