Vigilance: A Necessary Element to Effective Physician Peer Review

November 16, 2014 | Posted in Healthcare, Medical Staff, NorthGauge, Peer Review



It’s not enough to have a well-designed peer review program.  The right procedures, policies, structure and leadership are critical.  But building a home correctly is just the beginning.  Living in it requires much more than just being couch potatoes.  When it’s new, living is easy and little maintenance or effort is needed.  But with time, lethargy will lead to the home to not only show its age, but the very safety of its inhabitants will come to be threatened.

One of the greatest threats to leadership effectiveness in general is complacency.  Driven by self-protection, competition, fatigue, ego or comfort in past success, complacency blinds us to opportunities as well as to dangers.  Leadership can’t just show up and go through the motions, even if the motions are well-designed.  Constant vigilance is required to make sure that process, effort, decisions and impacts are aligned with purpose.

When physicians accept leadership positions, they must appreciate that they are not simply accepting another time obligation, another monthly meeting.  Rather, they are accepting the responsibility of being stewards of important resources, processes and decisions designed to have a favorable impact on the organization and those it serves.  Otherwise, serving stands to do much more harm than good, both to those within the organization and the people it serves.

The real problem is that complacency is easy, yet its impacts are contagious and lethal.  How do you minimize its threats?  Each committee member and those charged with supporting roles can start by asking:

  • What is my purpose for participating?
  • How can I ensure my efforts consistently make a difference?
  • Do my actions match our peer review committee’s purpose?
  • Am I holding myself and my colleagues accountable to have our actions match our principles?

Acknowledge the presence and impact of complacency both individually and as a group.  Hold yourself and each other accountable.  Show up to make a difference.  Be vigilant.  Constantly measure your actions and decisions against purpose and objectives.  You can’t expect perfection.  Individually and as a group, you will drift.  You will, from time to time, be complacent.  But watch for it and know that it is each participant’s responsibility to keep complacency from infecting your effort.

The solution is individual and collective vigilance.  Perhaps starting each meeting with a reminder of the committee’s purpose and the importance of its work will help to fuel the individual and collective vigilance needed to ensure that the program’s design achieves its intended results.

– Jon Moses, President & CEO