Physician CPR: Winning and Aligning Physicians

by Jay Kaplan, MD, FACEP

Winning and aligning physicians is essential to the success of any hospital or health care system. What it takes is not rocket science, but organizations around the country find it extremely hard to accomplish.We call it “Physician CPR” because it has brought back to life the collaboration that physicians and hospitals so desperately need for success. Most think that CPR stands for “Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.” Not here. “C” stands for celebrate, “P” partner, and “R” respond – that’s how you win and align your physicians. Physician “CPR” will continue to be an impetus for the increased loyalty of current physicians, the recruitment of even more physicians, better relationships between the physicians and staff, more patients to care for, and improved clinical outcomes.

So what are the three broad categories of initiatives that Physician Satisfaction Teams have addressed in order to win and align physicians? Let’s take the CPR in reverse order:

  1. Respond – Lack of trust is the #1 barrier to developing and maintaining an alliance with physicians. Physician Satisfaction Teams have created new avenues of dialogue so doctors feel that their hospital is responsive to what they value.
  2. Partner – Helping physicians be more efficient in their daily practice and removing the obstacles which cause frustration leads to happier physicians, more satisfied patients, decreased length of stay and a greater ability to turn beds around for newly admitted patients. And finally
  3. Celebrate – Physicians like a pat on the back. We are also competitive and will align behaviors that are rewarded. We’ll share with you some touching and some fun ways that Physician Satisfaction Teams have rewarded and recognized physicians.

Best Practice Examples:


  • Help-line beeper
  • Lab results charter led to increased physician satisfaction and decreased length of stay
  • Medical records documentation – Doctor’s Documentation Day
  • Autofax ED records to PCP’s office
  • Nursing supervisor who carries a wireless phone to facilitate admission of patients by private physicians from their offices
  • Rapid Response Plan, issues addressed with timelines, reported monthly to the MEC, Quality Council and BOD


  • Physician with diabetic population with educator going to office, Medical Staff newsletter with column by the Physician sat team called “the Report Card.”
  • CEO patient rounds
  • Centralized scheduling, physician newsletter to publicize it
  • Creation of a Physician Champion
  • Doctors contributed $10,000 to scholarships for nursing students –


  • Bottled water/fruit/internet access in the Doctors’ Lounge
  • CNO thank-you notes to physicians with the highest volume of admissions
  • Doctors’ Day celebration – doctor awards given in several categories
  • CEO writes 2-3 handwritten notes to physicians each week, and has received some responses back from them
  • For Nurses week had physicians write letters re: what nurses meant to them and then posted all of them
  • Physicians names to the Board on good things they have done, Board members write the physicians thank-you’s personal letters back.