Today’s blog ends an amazing series of interviews, 18 in total, with some of the west’s top healthcare minds. I hope that you have enjoyed this exploration as much as I have. Today’s interview is with a chief medical officer who still is in the OR two days a week. This results in some brutal hours, admittedly. It is obvious that he loves what he does. The interview ran over just because he kept giving such great answers to the questions. Honestly, this was the case in every single interview. Here are some of his responses:
Establishing a vision is difficult in any worksite. However, with the healthcare profession, with so many highly educated and independent individuals, how do you accomplish this?
First of all the organization needs to believe in the vision and mission. It has to be at their very core.
Secondly, this is not an easily swayed population. A visionary leader needs to be able to stand up, express the vision, and be believable.
Thirdly, there needs to be a compelling reason for the new direction and vision. We work with people who are basically good and went into this profession for a good reason. The vision has to answer the question of “How will it help the people I serve”? And the data has to be there… measurable and usable. The organization has to dedicate the resources to capturing, interpreting, and making the data readily available. Doctors get data. They are scientists.
Finally, all of these need to be a combination of head and heart. The visions and emotions have to be there and they need to combine with the hard data.
The author, Quint Studer, talks about the three levels of performers. How do you, as a medical director, deal with the lower performers?
Physicians have spent a significant amount of time getting to where they are in the medical field. I believe we owe it to them to help them succeed. We can’t just throw these people away. I believe the most important way is to help them see the team aspect of health care. Find what they are good at and like to do and help them do it.
Sometimes the budget constraints get in the way of doing what staff need to do a good job. How do you deal with this.
Budget constraints are not going away. They are a constant presence. However, I have found that when the job is interesting and fulfilling, then the complaints about budget constraints take a back seat.
How do you make the job interesting and fulfilling?
In my view it is all about the team concept. We completely emphasize the aspect of membership in the team. People love to belong and we need to give them opportunities, both in and out of the worksite, to feel that belonging. When there is more team in people’s work world, there are less problems. If a leaders sees people as parts that are replaceable, then there will be problems.
That sounds like such a basic understanding. Why do so many leaders struggle with that?
The higher up people go, the easier it is to lose the faces. You can’t lose the faces as a leader.
One of the significant challenges I have with coaching is with physicians who have been successful for years doing things the ‘old way’ and now are being asked to being new ways of working. How do you successfully lead these physicians?
A physician can’t expect to ride the horse until it drops and hope that a new one comes along. Medicine is changing. The common saying is that ‘change is the only constant’. A physician, in today’s environment, won’t be successful until he or she accepts that. One way is to ask them just to try one thing differently. Help them to accomodate the new request.
However, I do keep the highly reluctant ones away from the new physicians. They can poison the water.
Speaking of younger physicians…thoughts on motivating them?
I have not found a huge difference in dedication between the younger and older. We have great people. They do want a more balanced life, which is not a bad thing. We may need to look at hiring five instead of four for a specific task. We have had to become more efficient, especially with the advent of higher technology.
What is the biggest challenge facing healthcare?
We need to, first of all, have to address the problem with affordability of healthcare. Doctors can solve this problem. If they are serious about changing this, they can. Within our organization we have seen significant savings by making our surgical costs an addressable item. The surgical teams are provided with the data they need to see the impact of their decisions. They are given the data, authority, and choice. The data is transparent for all to see and compare themselves against. The results have resulted in savings in the millions of dollars.