Practice Management Toolbox

Improving quality and return-on-investment: Provider onboarding


If current physician leaders want to achieve simultaneous succession planning and maintain the legacy of a patient-centric and resilient practice, these leaders must consider bridging the “cultural knowledge acumen gap.” James S. Hernandez, MD, MS, FCAP, and colleagues suggest a “connector” role between new and experienced providers. Reverse mentoring/distance/reciprocal mentoring is also mentioned as a two-way learning process between mentor and mentee.

Process structure considerations

Each new hire affects the culture of the practice. Best practices for the onboarding and orientation process should be followed. A written project master list with a timeline for completion of onboarding tasks with responsible and accountable persons, target dates for completion, and measurement should be established. Establishing mutual expectations up front can help practices tailor committee roles and clinical responsibilities to maximize provider engagement and longevity. A robust onboarding process may take up to 2 years depending on the size of the practice and the complexity of its structure and associated duties.

Desired outcomes

The desired outcome of the onboarding process is a satisfied provider whose passion and enthusiasm for quality patient care is demonstrated objectively through excellent performance on clinical quality measures and metrics of patient and referral source satisfaction.

Periodic reviews of how the onboarding process is progressing should be undertaken. These reviews can be modeled after the After-Action Review (AAR) process used in the military for measuring progress. Simply stated, what items went well with onboarding and why? What items did not go well with onboarding and why not? (Consider something like the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ “5 Whys” assessment to determine root cause for items that need correction.) What elements of the onboarding process could be further improved? Using a Delphi method during the AAR session is an excellent way for the group to hear from all participants ranging from senior partners to recently recruited providers.


Medical practices must recognize that assimilating a new provider into the practice through a robust onboarding process is not lost effort but rather a force multiplier. Effective provider onboarding gives the incoming provider a sense of purpose and resolve, which results in optimized clinical productivity and engagement because the new provider is invested in the future of the practice. Once successfully onboarded and integrated into the practice, new providers need to understand that the work effort invested in their onboarding comes with a “pay it forward” obligation for the next provider recruited by the group. Group members also need to realize that the baseline is always changing–the provider onboarding process needs to continually evolve and adapt as the practice changes and new providers are hired.

Mr. Rudnick is a visiting professor and program director healthcare quality, innovation, and strategy at St Thomas University, Miami. Mr. Turner is regional vice president for the Midatlantic market of Covenant Physician Partners.


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