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MGMA poll shows widespread satisfaction with medical practice culture, but not everyone is happy

For those who expressed dissatisfaction, common sentiment was that mission and values looked great on paper but weren't practiced.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

The Medical Group Management Association's new MGMA Stat poll shows widespread satisfaction in medical practice workplace culture, but for those that said their workplace leaves something to be desired, experts said that culture can inhibit change and ultimately success.

The poll was conducted on April 10, with 1,389 total responses. It asked medical practice leaders if they are satisfied with their organization's culture including such things as norms, values and mission, and 52 percent said yes. A number of respondents cited "engagement, shared sense of purpose, teamwork and camaraderie" as having inspired the culture they strove to establish. Roughly a third of respondents indicated they were "somewhat" satisfied, pointing out that their culture is well established on paper, but not always adequately implemented.

The remaining 17 percent who reported "no" said that their culture is not unified but that work toward improvement was ongoing. One respondent stated, "The mission statement and vision look great on paper but are poorly executed and lived."

MGMA consultant Pam Ballou-Nelson and MGMA writer Christian Green wrote in a separate post that while a healthy culture can enhance clinical and business success, and unhealthy one will stall development and ultimate success. As medical practice's move towards value-based models of care, understanding an organization's culture is the "single biggest factor" that stunts improvement and change.

For example, a healthy culture can reduce uncertainties and clarify expectations, generate social order, solidify continuity of key values and norms for current employees and newer hires, establish a common vision and direction and spurn forward movement, the authors wrote.

Citing other research including a competing values framework, a model that lays out what makes organizations effective and successful, the authors highlighted some key points that could help other practices implement a better culture.

First, practice leaders should analyze their organization's culture and how a value-based model could impact it. A tool known as the organizational culture assessment Instrument could be helpful and is based on the competing values framework. 

Leaders must also root out subcultures within the practice and make sure they share the goals and mission of the practice overall.

Finally, it is crucial to remember that each practice is unique so there is no one cultural model that fits all practices.

"If you're willing to recognize the incongruences within your organization and address them, you can ensure that the culture will be more in line with value-based models of care," the authors wrote.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: beth.sanborn@himssmedia.com