5 Challenges All Healthcare Leaders Will Face and How They were Addressed

Abhinav Shashank
Fri 05 May 2017
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Lately,  the health sector has been introduced to several new challenges apart from the ones that already existed. Some health systems have been growing phenomenally, while some are being gutted because of decreasing quality and increasing costs. Hundreds of healthcare settings comparable in size and scale often have a huge gap, with some being way ahead, while some left so far behind that all they ever see are losses.

Have you heard the story of Geisinger Health? The health system with 12 hospitals and over 30,000 employees. When Geisinger was about to get a new President and CEO, Dr. David Feinberg, UCLA Medical system was around the bottom of the table in the patient satisfaction scores. Despite UCLA having a reputation for being creative and innovating great medical therapies, still it wasn’t able to capitalize on that success, and two out of three patients wouldn’t recommend UCLA to family or friends.

Feinberg’s leadership was a boon to UCLA health system, and patient satisfaction scores soared up to the extent that UCLA is now in the 99th percentile for the same category! It is now considered among the top hospitals in America. What did he do so differently? How did he address this issue?

What Dr. David faced wasn’t something healthcare leaders hadn’t faced in the past. It is the approach to handling problems that matters!

  • Patient Experience will always be a requirement because patients look for trust in their caretakers

It doesn’t matter what sector you are in, the experience of your audience always matters! Dr. David Feinberg explained it rightly by saying,

“ The way I see it, if you go into Starbucks and you’re not happy with your order, they don’t sip your latte and argue that they made it correctly. They just take care of you on the spot.”

That is just so true, and that is how one should handle any dissatisfaction related to their patients, because of all the things necessary for care delivery, most important is that patient can trust the care team! To elaborate, imagine a scenario wherein a patient paid to get a surgery, and in the end, he/she was not satisfied. The patient doesn’t just feel cheated, they will want recompense. So they talk to their near and dear ones, who would empathize with the patient and word spreads quickly!

  • Bringing a change in the organization won’t be easy, and criticism will always be there

There is just one constant in this world that everything is subject to change. A paradox, yet true!

Ronald DePinho, President of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston) said,

“Have the courage to drive change that improves the lives of patients and be prepared to take criticism seriously but not personally.”

If you feel your organization can do better with an innovative idea someone suggested, do not hesitate to consider it and implement even if not everyone feels the same way. Should that change result in criticism, take it as feedback and use it to improve the outcomes. With advancing technology and changing reforms, it is crucial that we are on our toes to adapt to all the changes coming our way. Healthcare isn’t what it used to be a couple of decades ago, which is why our mindsets should be changed with changing the environment around us.

Constructive criticism is defined as something promoting further development or advancement. Remind yourself of the benefits of receiving constructive criticism—namely, to improve your skills, work product, and relationships, and to help your organization meet the expectations that your stakeholders and patients have of you.

  • Your team needs to be better every day, only then can you grow with your organization

One of the professors at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia had said,

“You should always have five people under you who think they can do a better job than you, and three of them that are right.”

One of the keys to the success of many health systems has been their ability to develop future leadership internally. It is critical that your employees are aware of the goals, the path to these goals, and the success stories. It is also a vital activity for change management. If the focus from top to middle management is on coaching their teams in delivering better care because one day they will be directly responsible for all of it, they will strive to grow and improve everyday.

  • Self-awareness is crucial. Data is Key.

Someone once said, to improve on something you need to know what that ‘something’ is! Every move you are about to make should be driven by facts and more than that you should be able to identify the weak links in the network to improve on them. Doug Luckett, President and CEO of CaroMont Health said,

“We need to know ourselves and know our data. Learn how to use quantitative data after you’ve got it.”

Don’t be afraid to embrace the data-driven approaches to drive better health. Gather your data, analyze it, and identify opportunities to drive better clinical outcomes with it. Latest practices like data driven care management and population health management can greatly improve the quality of care and reduce to cost but understanding how to use them and the data they provide for you is just as important.

  • When a cool wind passes, take advantage of it because it may never come again

Opportunity cost is defined as the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. Opportunities will always be there, but you need be on your toes to be able to grab them when they come! More than that, it is necessary to be decisive by assessing the situation quickly.

In healthcare this invariably means stepping out of your comfort zone and act on what is needed basis lessons from other consumer facing industries. Don’t be afraid to make that same plunge into the deep.

The Road Ahead

Healthcare is about accountability. As one grows, with responsibilities, accountability also increases. Adaptability is the key, the better is one at adapting, the more innovative one will be. The next generation of technology is here, leveraging it for better clinical outcomes. The road ahead will need one to be more ruthless and at the same time flexible to be able to push your organization to the heights of its success.


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Abhinav Shashank
5 Challenges All Healthcare Leaders Will Face and How They were Addressed

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