It’s a Great Time to Be a Physician: Building a Healthcare System that Works

by Jeffrey A Weisz, MD with Susan Albers Mohrman and Arienne McCracken

Review by Jack Cochran, MD, FACS

Perm J 2014 Winter; 18(1):95


Jeffrey Weisz, MD's book It's a Great Time to be a Physician: Building a Healthcare System that Works is a blueprint to create the health care system America needs. Dr Weisz has tremendous credibility in how to transform health care. His results speak for themselves. As Executive Medical Director, Dr Weisz has led two Permanente Medical Groups: Southern California Permanente Medical Group (SCPMG), 2004 to 2011, and Northwest Permanente (NWP), 2012 to the present. As a physician leader and in partnership with the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Dr Weisz has guided both Regions to national prominence and recognition in clinical quality. With this book, Dr Weisz shares his philosophy, knowledge, and experience to the benefit of we who are dedicated to improving America's health care system. In the book and in Dr Weisz's leadership, the most unwavering principle is a total focus on the reality and the needs of the patient. He shows us how to create a system that our patients need, want, and deserve. At this moment in time, we are learning how to function in an industry influenced by the Affordable Care Act.1 Legislation, at best, can be an enabler of improvement for health care. This book provides a pathway to improve health care, validated with clear and substantiated evidence.

The essential learnings and success factors Dr Weisz outlines are:

  • Clear, Consistent Vision. Dr Weisz's leadership is remarkable for its great clarity and consistent focus on the reality of the patient for all decisions. He shares the vision of building a health system that brings all its resources to bear to make patients as healthy as they can possibly be.
  • Clinical Leadership. At both SCPMG and NWP, Dr Weisz has emphasized building a strong senior team and extensive leadership development throughout the Medical Group. He has championed and developed leadership programs, recognizing that the nation needs thoughtful physician leaders and that leadership skills are not part of core medical training. He is an ardent believer in the shared leadership model because physicians, in particular, do not respond well to a command-and-control leadership style. 
  • Deployment of Information Technology. Access to valid information is a critical enabler for both high clinical quality and innovation in care processes. Dr Weisz talks openly about the challenge of the aggressive implementation of Kaiser Permanente's electronic health record (EHR). At the same time, he celebrates the EHR as a critical component of many of the best practices and results he and the Medical Group have achieved. 
  • Strong Clinical Evidence and Knowledge. Keeping up with clinical evidence and knowledge can be a challenge. Dr Weisz points out that one of the benefits of working in a large multispecialty Medical Group within an integrated system is the ability to distill research and translate it into readily accessible information so physicians have more time to practice medicine. Having this embedded in the EHR makes it available at the point of care. He provides detailed descriptions of how clinical evidence and knowledge are shared not just within SCPMG but across Kaiser Permanente systematically. 
  • Prevention, Patient Wellness, and Self-Care. Physicians and teams have increasingly focused on education, support, empowerment, and motivation. With the growing trend of patient empowerment, Dr Weisz believes that aggressive self-management by patients is a positive development that leads to greater adherence to healthy and health-restoring regimens. He extols ways that the organization has supported patient wellness. 
  • Culture. Developing a culture that embraces metrics and measurement is a basis for system improvement. Throughout the book, the reader is immersed in the culture of SCPMG, which values teamwork, performance, innovation, and openness.

Finally, the book includes unique and powerful tools. Particularly useful are the numerous tables highlighting current trends and their implications for physicians.

This book is a must read for all of us trying to fix health care in America. It offers a clear vision and substantive evidence that provides the blueprint to create a health care system that is safe, equitable, accessible, and affordable.

1. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Public Law 111-148, 111th Congress, 124 Stat 119, HR 3590, enacted 2010 Mar 23.


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