Conversely, administrative leaders today must understand clinical measures, which increasingly are tied to the bottom line. "My monthly review ... focuses on core measures and HCAHPS and the deepest levels of clinical measures. Lay administrators who don't pay as much attention to the clinical realm as the financial realm will fail to help this equation that requires folks to come together to happen," said Joel Seligman, CEO of Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y.
Physician-hospital alignment, always a potential briar patch, is ever more critical and an integral part of leadership development at some organizations. At Gundersen Lutheran Health System in La Crosse, Wis., Jeff Thompson, MD, CEO and chairman of the boards, works to get business and physician leaders on the same page by conducting joint performance reviews, with each side responsible for the other. "Twice a year those two people have to come to the senior executive table and do their performance review. Together they have to sit there and present their quality measures," Thompson explained. "We expect the two of them to be partners, and 95% of the time it works well. Sometimes it doesn't, and then it's coaching, it's mentoring from outside folks, and then sometimes it's changing somebody out."
But the assembled CEOs agreed that the challenges of leadership, no matter how the metrics and methods change, come down to one constant: communication. "It's obvious, but everything we've heard is about people working together," said Thompson. "I think that's going to be more and more important, whether we're working with medical staff or administration, or a community hospital or a hospital within a system. It's all about relationship management, and it hasn't always been true in our industry that that's been a strength of executives. But it's absolutely a requirement now."
Edward Prewitt is the editorial director for HealthLeaders Media. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appears in the March 2013 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.