Priorities of Hybrid Clinician-Managers: A Qualitative Study of How Managers Balance Clinical Quality among Competing Responsibilities

Christopher J. Hoekstra, Joan S. Ash, Nicole A. Steckler, James R. Becton, Benjamin W. Sanders, Meenakshi Mishra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective. Oversight of clinical quality is only one of physical therapy managers' multiple responsibilities. With the move to value-based care, organizations need sound management to navigate this evolving reimbursement landscape. Previous research has not explored howcompeting priorities affect physical therapymanagers' oversight of clinical quality. The purpose of this study was to create a preliminary model of the competing priorities, motivations, and responsibilities of managers while overseeing clinical quality. Methods. This qualitative study used the Rapid Qualitative Inquiry method. A purposive sample of 40 physical therapy managers and corporate leaders was recruited. A research team performed semi-structured interviews and observations in outpatient practices. The team used a grounded theory-based immersion/crystallization analysis approach. Identified themes delineated the competing priorities and workflows these managers use in their administrative duties. Results. Six primary themes were identified that illustrate how managers: (1) balance managerial and professional priorities; (2) are susceptible to stakeholder influences; (3) experience internal conflict; (4) struggle to measure and define quality objectively; (5) are influenced by the culture and structure of their respective organizations; and (6) have professional needs apart from the needs of their clinics. Conclusion. Generally, managers' focus on clinical quality is notably less comprehensive than their focus on clinical operations. Additionally, the complex role of hybrid clinician-manager leaves limited time beyond direct patient care for administrative duties. Managers in organizations that hold them accountable to quality-based metrics have more systematic clinical quality oversight processes. Impact. This study gives physical therapy organizations a framework of factors that can be influenced to better facilitate managers' effective oversight of clinical quality. Organizations offering support for those managerial responsibilities will be well positioned to thrive in the new fee-for-value care structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberpzab048
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • Leadership
  • Managers
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Priorities
  • Quality
  • Value

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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