The importance of organizational alignment

A group of healthcare providers was recently asked, as part of a larger survey, for their top two reasons that alignment is important to a healthcare organization. Better patient outcomes and organizational stability were overwhelmingly the top responses. The survey was conducted of NEJM Catalyst Insights Council members – “a qualified group of U.S.-based clinical leaders, clinicians, and executives who are directly involved in health care delivery.”

Participants in the survey differed somewhat as to their top reasons, although “all segments of the Insights Council agree that organizational alignment is most important to achieve better patient quality outcomes.” The percentage of those saying that the top reason for alignment is organizational stability in a dynamic, changing health care marketplace were: clinical leaders (65%), executives (60%), and clinicians (48%).

Perhaps not surprisingly, more clinicians participating in the survey (26%) than those executives participating (14%) also said that organizational alignment is important for satisfaction among frontline clinicians.

When asked what is meant by the term “organizational alignment,” more than half (57%) of the clinical leaders and executives participating in the survey said that alignment is “the organization’s mission, vision, and goals…supported by governance, strategy, and incentives.” Just over a third (37%) of the participating clinicians chose this definition. Clinicians (17%) were more likely than executives (9%) and clinical leaders (7%) to say that alignment is achieved when “all functions of the organization are directed toward patient care.”

Almost all of those participating in the survey (99%) said that alignment is necessary for key stakeholders within the healthcare organizations. However, only 63% of the Council members reported that this alignment exists within their own organizations, identifying the gap as being highest among frontline clinicians and top executives such as the CEO.

The survey was conducted of 655 NEJM Catalyst Insights Council members.