Leadership Skills for Healthcare Reforms

Was reading Tom Dolan’s article in Healthcare Executive Sept/Oct 2010 edition, about changes PPACA and the changes it will bring.  He talks about five broad points.  Even without the new legislation, these points do hold ground.

                        1. Mastery of change management and change leadership:  No matter how big a change, there are are few things that healthcare executives will always need.  They are change change management and change leadership.  Change management is the technical component of strategy and to be able to oversee their implementation.  This would include how the methodology is being applied to various initiatives, and whether staff are trained in it.  Change leadership is the human component of it, which is the belief in change management.  It includes realization and communication of negative fallout of not being able to change.  I believe this culture of reacting to change should exist well before any changes comes our way.  Else, it is just too much work in too little time.  If we are not used to coping with small changes, how would we to a big one.
                        2. Continued quality and patient safety efforts:  As we know quality and patient safety is raison d’etre of hospitals.  It is imperative that boards and senior management should be behind any effort in this direction.  If they’re not by choice, then they’ll have to be by compulsion.  It is important that executives are familiar with the tools.  What is more important is that they create an atmosphere where staff are motivated enough to find shortcomings.  They should be able to report without the fear of retribution, and have confidence those points will be looked into.  In fact there should be incentives in place for finding the most critical shortcomings.  And recommendations for all shortcomings should be made a part of standard operating procedure and effectively communicated.  Executives should ensure that the cycle goes on.
                        3. Productivity: As important as patient safety, is increasing productivity and controlling costs.  As we know healthcare is a very different kind of industry, and so it must not be at the cost of care.  Also, it must be determined how benefits gained via increased productivity are channelized.  Benefits gained in terms of executive time and resources should be deviated towards something strategic.  They could be diverted towards being price competitive, or spending time and resources becoming even more productive.  Few of the tools being used these days are Lean, Six Sigma, Predictive Analytics etc.
                        4. Public Policy: Healthcare executives are invaluable in public policy formulation.  They have access to invaluable information from their staff and community agencies. 
                        5. Interpersonal Skills: They form the cementing medium of above mentioned points.
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