Focus on Physician Leadership: Get to Know Pratiksha Patel, MD
March 13, 2018
You joined NEQCA as a medical director in September 2017. What was it about the organization that attracted you?
It was definitely NEQCA’s culture. I was impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit of the physicians, as well as the level of physician leadership and involvement in this organization. Everyone I’ve worked with at NEQCA is dedicated, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate about healthcare. I was also attracted to this position because I want to influence change at a systems level and improve health care delivery for both patients and providers.
What are some of the themes that have emerged from your conversations with NEQCA physician leaders during your first six months on the job?
First, NEQCA physicians provide high quality care to their patients, but physician burnout is an incredibly important issue that NEQCA is dedicated to improving. Providers are feeling the administrative burden of all the paperwork and EMR documentation. Next, autonomy is very important to many NEQCA physicians, however with the changing landscape of medicine, it is also important for us to work together as a network on some of these incredibly important initiatives. In my discussions with physician leaders, it’s clear that NEQCA has always provided great contractual value, but it’s increasingly important for our physicians to come together as a network beyond the contracts and to understand and promote the value of NEQCA’s programs – and how well they align with our commitment to achieving the Quadruple Aim.
What is the biggest leadership challenge you've personally faced as a physician, and how did you overcome it?
As medical director at my prior practice, one of my biggest challenges was changing to more team-based care, as we entered risk-based contracts. We had a traditional model in which the physicians provided all the care to the patient and it was a big cultural shift when we tried to redesign the practice and add more staff to assist the physicians. This was a dramatic change for our practice and it required buy-in from the physicians as well as retraining of staff. Along with my office manager, we slowly were able to introduce the model and over the course of several years, we changed our staffing model and focused more on population health than episodic care. We saw that our employee and physician satisfaction improved as a result of this redesign. The key to the success was to first get physician buy-in, start with incremental changes, listen to the staff and physicians about concerns, and constantly reassess the process.
What do you think will be some of the most important qualities for leaders in the healthcare industry to develop or strengthen over the next 10 years?
I think that physicians are used to working independently and taking sole responsibility for taking care of patients. Team-based care will be very important for all of us working in the healthcare industry. Leaders will need to learn how to work in teams to provide the best care for patients. The industry is changing rapidly and successful leaders will need to be comfortable with changes in the business model and innovation.
What are you most looking forward to in your next six months at NEQCA?
I’m looking forward to meeting more NEQCA physicians and working with them to develop ways to continue delivering the high-quality patient care they provide. I hope to start rounding in some of the practices in my local care organizations to see first-hand the challenges the physicians are facing and help with workflows and processes to reduce the burden on physicians. I also have an interest in healthcare IT and hope to work on strategies to alleviate EMR-related burdens. Physician burnout is an important issue, and I hope to focus some of my time on helping NEQCA prevent it.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I’ve always enjoyed traveling, but recently have been doing more adventure traveling. A couple of years ago, I decided to hike the 4-day Inca Trail into Machu Picchu with a group of friends. This was definitely out of my comfort zone, since I had never camped before! It was an incredible experience that was both mentally and physically challenging. The first picture below is from Machu Picchu. The second is from a recent trip to Iceland, where I went glacier hiking for the first time.