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    Achieving your medical group’s goals begins by understanding a vision for your organization and setting objectives to achieve those goals.

    Lewis Carroll’s classic tale Alice in Wonderland finds the titular character asking the Cheshire Cat for directions. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” the Cheshire Cat astutely responded. Alice, of course, didn’t care where — so long as she got somewhere other than where she was.

    “You’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough,” the Cheshire Cat proclaimed. That cautionary tale holds true for healthcare leaders in devoting time and resources to pursuing goals for the organization: You’ll get somewhere, but not necessarily where you want to be.

    An Oct. 11, 2022, MGMA Stat poll found that nearly 8 in 10 (78%) medical group practice leaders said their organization has a vision statement, while 22% do not. The poll had 659 applicable responses.

    Among healthcare leaders at organizations with vision statements, the frequency of how often they evaluate mission, vision and value statements varied:

    • 53% said at least annually
    • 29% said biannually or semiannually (at least every five years)
    • 15% said there is no set interval for review or that it had been at least five years since the last review
    • 3% reported they were unsure.

    Some of the most common sentiments shared among medical practice leaders who responded to the poll included:

    • Building a review of mission and/or value statements into leadership retreats annually or biannually
    • Practices that rarely changed their mission or vision statements largely attributed it to having them engrained in the organizational culture
    • Ensuring new service lines align with the vision of the organization during the planning stages.

    Among the practice leaders at organizations without a vision statement, almost one quarter (24%) said they are planning to add a vision statement in the coming year, while the majority (68%) have no plans, and another 8% reported they were unsure about the prospects of adding a vision statement. Many respondents noted that their organizations rejected creating a vision statement because their leaders decided that a mission statement alone was sufficient.

    Historically, a majority of practice leaders polled by MGMA say they have a variety of these guiding ideas:

    • In 2017, an MGMA Stat poll found nearly 8 in 10 (79%) of healthcare leaders were clear on their organization’s mission, vision and values (MVV).
    • However, understanding of MVV hasn’t always translated into the desired results. A 2018 MGMA Stat poll found that only a slim majority (52%) of practice leaders were satisfied with their organization’s culture and MVV, compared to more than 3 in 10 (31%) who were somewhat satisfied and another 17% who reported they were not satisfied.

    During his recent session at the 2022 Medical Practice Excellence: Leaders Conference, MGMA Chief Operating Officer Ron Holder, MHA, FACMPE, FACHE, CAE, mentioned that MVV are “critically important” for an organization. “When done right, they overlap — they have their finders in ethics, strategy, recruitment and retention of employees,” Holder added.

    Holder said that having a meaningful mission is even more important to younger workers (e.g., millennials, Gen Z) than it was to previous generations.

    • Didn’t make it to Boston for the face-to-face conference? Many of the best sessions from #MPE22 will be part of the Digital Experience (DX), Nov. 8-10. Learn more.

    Practice insights

    As veteran practice executive and author James R. Zeman, PhD, FACMPE, CPA, noted in his January 2022 MGMA Connection magazine article, times of substantial change call for an examination of MVV. In 2015, Zeman was hired as the administrator and CEO of a cardiology group that had recently gone through a merger. With several longstanding partners having a say at the board level, the “mantras” of the group were quite clear:

    • High quality care will never be compromised.
    • Treating people right — all people (patients, their families, visitors, staff, referring physicians) — was of the utmost importance.
    • The group will remain a cohesive, proactive, and physician-owned team of providers and staff.
    • Financials are very important, but not at the expense of compromising the first three items.

    Through subsequent interviews of individual physicians in the group and the management team, as well as reviews of key performance data and employee satisfaction survey results, Zeman worked to develop a “preliminary vision” for the organization’s next five years, and then scheduled a one-day, off-site meeting to talk about the direction of the group and set goals for the coming year.

    That meeting produced the following vision: “By 2020, in keeping with our core values, we will be regionally recognized as: The best place to receive care, the best place to practice medicine, and the best place to work.”

    With those goals, the group obtained data for each objective to determine a baseline for each:

    • Patient satisfaction scores from Press Ganey for “best place to receive care”
    • Physician satisfaction survey scores for “best place to practice medicine”
    • The initial employee satisfaction survey scores for “best place to work.”

    Patient satisfaction scores — 4.1 to 4.2 out of 5 in 2015 — reached 4.8 to 4.9 out of 5 in 2021, as rated by an outside marketing company.

    Physician satisfaction scores started at 4 out of 5 in 2015 and rose to 4.5 in 2021, with many more physicians feeling good about the future.

    In 2015, management received an initial score of 3.2 out of 5 in an employee satisfaction survey. Four years later, the group received national certification as a Best Place to Work organization.

    Zeman pointed to commitment from top physician leadership in the group for making the development and implementation of the vision successful. “In this organization, the group’s partners were 100% committed to the goals of this vision,” Zeman wrote. “Although many physicians and groups espouse the ideals of high-quality care and commitment to customers and staff, these partners live by these mantras every day.


    Our ability at MGMA to provide great resources, education and advocacy depends on a strong feedback loop with healthcare leaders. To be part of this effort, sign up for MGMA Stat and make your voice heard in our weekly polls. Sign up by texting “STAT” to 33550 or visit Polls will be sent to your phone via text message. 
    Do you have any best practices or success stories to share on this topic? Please let us know by emailing us at  

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