Executing Your Plan: The Importance of Lead Measures

More than ever, organizations are requiring all job functions, including physician relations, to perform at a high level to meet the challenges of today. You may have a documented plan or you may be in the process of adjusting your previous plan. So are your competitors. The difference between winning new business and being stagnant often lies in how your plan is executed.

One of the best books I’ve seen on the subject is “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling. 

The 4 disciplines described are:

1. Focusing on the Wildly Important

2. Acting on the Lead Measures

3. Keeping a Compelling Scoreboard

4. Creating a Cadence of Accountability


The 1st step is to focus on what’s important and avoid being distracted by other “priorities” that inadvertently come your way. That’s when sound execution begins. Be as focused and diligent on working your plan as you were when you developed it.

The idea behind acting on lead measures is to focus on specific items that get us there, even though we ultimately will be evaluated on our total impact to the institution. This dichotomy is sometimes viewed as measuring activities vs. measuring results. A lead measure is often an activity that is not the ultimate result, but instead is necessary to create the outcome we seek, such as increased volume from a targeted physician group.

Lead measures must be both predictive and influenceable. The benefit of acting on lead measures is that these are often activities that are under our control. Do we think bringing a specialist physician to visit a potential referring group will have a good chance of impacting referral behavior? Of course. While not fail-safe, most would agree that this activity is often a predictor of increased referrals. This is also something that physician liaisons can certainly influence. Setting specific goals around these facilitated introductions, or at the very least measuring and reviewing our success toward this activity, is essential.

Effective liaison visits should also be predictive of a behavior change. This is something most programs can easily measure. Consider, however, how many meetings are necessary to truly change behavior. Will 2 visits a year to a physician who has a limited relationship with our hospital actually result in change? Here, measuring visits alone likely is not enough. Leaders need to make sure that the visits are both strategic in their messaging and sufficient in number over a defined time frame to achieve the result we desire. Measuring and goal-setting around a raw number of visits, while helpful to drive the general activity of communicating with offices, will likely fall short of producing the results we want to achieve.

Spend some time considering what lead measures are most important to meet your goals and ensure that your efforts and measurements properly emphasize these priority activities.

Do you have questions about best use of data to measure and quantify your results? If so, we can help! For readers of this article I am offering a complimentary call to discuss your challenges and make a few suggestions. Send me an email and we will find a time to chat, bborchardt@barlowmccarthy.com.


This article originally appeared on barlowmccarthy.com