This article is the third in a nine-part series of article by Dr. Terry Loftus. The series seeks to provide guidance to health care facilities seeking to develop their own successful in-house robotic surgery program that builds on Dr. Loftus’ Seven-pillars Program. Last week, in part two, we looked at the role that purpose plays in creating a successful programme. This week we will focus on the role of engagement.
Engagement is the buzz word for the 21st century in healthcare. Nowhere is it more commonly applied than in the expression “physician engagement”. It is the Holy Grail in healthcare and a “must have” when building a Robotics Program. In this article, we will discuss how to build engagement for your robotics team. The first thing to remember is to quit focusing on just physicians. Too often many of us in leadership point to a lack of physician engagement as the sole source of the problems in healthcare. The thought being, if only we had more physician engagement, then we could solve all our problems.
We need physicians to help with much of what ails our healthcare systems, but we need to keep in mind that they are not the cause and the sole source of the problems. Healthcare is complicated and has a lot of moving parts. Physicians alone are not going to solve all of them. Instead of “physician engagement”, what we need is engagement. The principals of engagement work for all people, including physicians, and should be applied to all members of your Robotics Program’s team. So, what does engagement look like for a member of your team?
It is a team member who is fully involved, and enthusiastic about, his or her work and is actively participating in improving the clinical, operational and financial conditions of the healthcare environment in which they function, as well as the overall experience for both patient and staff. It begins by acting in ways that do not disengage other team members and patients. Engagement works just like trust. If you lose someone’s trust, then earning it back is difficult. If you disengage your team members, then getting them re-engaged is more difficult as well.
When disengaging behaviors are eliminated, engagement becomes much easier. One of the best ways to begin engagement is to focus on topics your team is already engaged. It may be developing consensus on the operating room set-up or standardizing equipment needs for certain types of cases. Talk to your team. Find out what problems they are already trying to solve, and help them solve those problems. Not only will they become more engaged; they will become your greatest allies when it comes time to achieving your program’s performance improvement goals.
Next week in the fourth edition of this nine-part series we will be looking at another of the seven pillars, communication.
Dr. Loftus has over 30 years of experience as a Healthcare Industry provider and executive. He has held leadership roles in large integrated delivery networks where he served as Medical Director for Surgical Services & Clinical Resources and successfully implemented a Robotics Program. Dr. Loftus is a speaker and consultant for various firms in the Robotic surgery and medical devices space. He currently works as a CMO for HCA, Medical City Fort Worth. To learn more, go to and download a free PDF copy of The Robotics Program: A How-to-Guide for Physician Leaders on Starting Up a Successful Program.
1 Adapted from: Rutledge Tim. Getting Engaged: The New Workplace Loyalty. Mattanie Press Toronto (2009)