At a time of rising medical complexity and stakeholder quality expectations, the role of industry medical directors could be much stronger, say the authors of an opinion piece published in the December issue of JAMDA.

Sixteen years since the Office of the Inspector General issued a report stating that medical directors were underutilized, their impact “remains inconsistent,” writes Arif Nazir, M.D., CMD, chief medical officer of Signature HealthCARE, along with peers from Genesis HealthCare and the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society.

While professional society AMDA has done its part in defining the job description and creating tools for success, fewer than 25% of all skilled nursing facility medical directors are AMDA members, the authors report. Even fewer have completed AMDA-sponsored medical director training and certification. 

“Many SNF medical directors and facility administrators remain woefully unaware of the importance of this role, the value of medical director partnership with facility management, and available support and resources,” they write.

To encourage increased engagement among the industry’s front-line physicians, the authors recommend that: 

  • Operators invest in internal frameworks that promote engagement
  • AMDA promote the use of technology to operationalize its guidelines
  • Industry stakeholders unite to brainstorm ways to upgrade the accountability structure

Detailed recommendations can be found in Engaging Physician Leaders for Higher Value.