Lessons in Leadership

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Senior leaders from the nation's top healthcare organizations shared their strategies for meeting some of healthcare's toughest challenges as well as their thoughts on the industry's future at HealthLeaders Media's Top Leadership Teams in Healthcare Conference held Oct. 16 and 17 at Chicago's Drake Hotel. The event featured 40 senior healthcare executives, including the 2008 Top Leadership Teams in Healthcare award winners, in five panel discussions and an awards ceremony that included presentations from the winning teams.

Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and CEO of Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, SD, says he enjoys the format of the event, which uses a roundtable approach to provide the content rather than the traditional speaker-at-a-podium model. But his favorite aspect of the conference is the caliber of the people involved in the program. "These are people who really are out there on the front edge of change. They are the ones who have the best war stories, the best experience, and the best failures. They are the ones that can tell you what not to do. So it is really exciting to be with them."

Marshall Baker, one of the judges for the 2008 TLT awards program, described HealthTexas Provider Network in Dallas, this year's winner for the medical group category, as having "team spirit and unsolicited pride." But that description could apply to any of this year's award winners; they all demonstrated outstanding leadership by not only setting ambitious goals for their organizations, but also by creating the collaborative environment and leadership culture required to realize those goals. "They walk the walk," says Baker.

The 2008 TLT winners are:

  • Scripps Health, San Diego; large hospitals and health systems (500 or more beds)
  • Griffin Hospital, Derby, CT; community and mid-size hospitals (100-499 beds)
  • Lakewood Health System, Staples, MN; small hospitals (Less than 100 beds)
  • Bangkok Hospital Medical Center, Bangkok, Thailand; global hospitals
  • HealthTexas Provider Network, Dallas; medical group practices
  • CareSource Management Group, Dayton, OH; health plans

Bill Holman, president and CEO of Baton Rouge (LA) General Medical Center (a 2004 TLT winner) and a panelist on the program's CEO roundtable, says the event honors providers "who have done a turnaround in our industry or who have excelled in a special program or service." The conference lets attendees network and learn what their peers are doing right and what they are doing wrong, says Holman, adding that the panels provided "very timely information" for attendees to take back to their respective organizations.

For instance, Jeffrey Thompson, MD, CEO at Gundersen Lutheran Health System in La Crosse, WI, noted during the financial strategies panel that developing an energy renewal program is not just good business—it is also a way to make a meaningful connection with the community. Gundersen received some good press about its HealthGrades' patient safety score, he said, but two weeks later another story in the paper about the system's renewable energy program resulted in "10 times the amount of interest in the community."

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