Practice Management Toolbox

Improving quality and return-on-investment: Provider onboarding


Physician and advanced practice provider (APP) (collectively, “provider”) onboarding into health care delivery settings requires careful planning and systematic integration. Assimilation into health care settings and cultures necessitates more than a 1- or 2-day orientation. Rather, an intentional, longitudinal onboarding program (starting with orientation) needs to be designed to assimilate providers into the unique culture of a medical practice.

Establishing mutual expectations

Communication concerning mutual expectations is a vital component of the agreement between provider and practice. Items that should be included in provider onboarding (likely addressed in either the practice visit or amplified in a contract) include the following:

  • Committees: Committee orientation should include a discussion of provider preferences/expectations and why getting the new provider involved in the business of the practice is a priority of the group.
  • Operations: Key clinical operations details should be reviewed with the incoming provider and reinforced through follow-up discussions with a physician mentor/coach (for example, call distribution; role of the senior nonclinical leadership team/accountants, fellow practice/group partners, and IT support; role definitions and expectations for duties, transitioning call, and EHR charting; revenue-sharing; supplies/preferences/adaptability to scope type).
  • Interests: Specific provider interests (for example, clinical research, infusion, hemorrhoidal banding, weight loss/nutrition, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel disease, pathology) and productivity expectations (for example, number of procedures, number of new and return patient visits per day) should be communicated.
  • Miscellaneous: Discussion about marketing the practice, importance of growing satellite programs and nuance of major referral groups to the practice are also key components of the assimilation process.

Leadership self-awareness and cultural alignment

Leadership self-awareness is a key element of provider onboarding. Physicians and APPs are trained to think independently and may be challenged to share decision-making and rely on others. The following are some no-cost self-assessment and awareness resources:

  • Myers-Briggs Personality Profile Preferences:
  • VIA Strengths:
  • VARK Analysis:

Cultural alignment is also a critical consideration to ensure orderly assimilation into the practice/health care setting and with stakeholders. A shared commitment to embed a culture with shared values has relevance to merging cultures – not only when organizations come together – but with individuals as well. Time spent developing a better understanding of the customs, culture and traditions of the practice will be helpful if a practice must change its trajectory based on meeting an unmovable obstruction (for example, market forces requiring practice consolidation).

Improved quality

Transitioning a new provider into an existing practice culture can have a ripple effect on support staff and patient satisfaction and is, therefore, an important consideration in provider onboarding. Written standards, procedures, expectations, and practices are always advisable when possible. Attention to the demographics of the recruited physician is also important with shifts in interests and priorities from a practice. Millennials will constitute most of the workforce by 2025 and arrive with a mindset that the tenure in a role will be shorter than providers before them. Accordingly, the intentionality of the relationship is critical for successful bonding.


Next Article: