Changing Management Structures
Wednesday, Aug. 10, 8-9: 30 a.m.
Healthcare organizations need managers who will adapt their strategic thinking in order to form networks and alliances, says an expert in executive training.
Those executives who insist on autonomy with job security will be left behind, said Herbert Wong, president of Quantum Solutions, Austin, Texas.
In the past, managers would lead with a procedure-based management strategy and a traditional competitive model of marketing. Mr. Wong said executives now must lead management-structured organizations, with emphasis on controlling costs rather than increasing revenues or filling beds.
Mr. Wong, a former corporate vice president of American Medical International who specialized in clinical and quality services, will discuss the expanding discipline of management styles within an integrated healthcare system.
Managers must be able to function in healthcare settings other than acute care-for example, long-term care, home care, health plans and provider networks.
This may be more difficult than it sounds, he said. Healthcare executives may have to abandon their job security to adapt to a new management style influenced by team culture and flexibility. Executives, he said, must constantly consider how they can fundamentally invest in a manager's ability to think differently, and what kind of organizational structure will optimize well care instead of sick care.
Quantum Solutions, founded in 1991, consults and trains executives to coordinate management-style changes with shifts in the industry. The company uses virtual reality to allow executives to test decisions in simulated situations. Executives then are able to make better decisions within their organizations.
The firm's clients include Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., IBM, Johnson & Johnson and Electronic Data Systems.
Mr. Wong said managers must compete in a more complex environment, applying flexibility to their organizations-both vertically and horizontally integrated. "Organizations must teach the sophistication of both structures," he said.
In the future, because every hospital will be part of a comprehensive integrated delivery system, efficient links with each network component and hospital department will be crucial, he said. "Data-driven information teams with cross-disciplined principles will be the big decisionmakers," Mr. Wong said. "Each facility must determine a way to make information systems fit (its) needs."
The healthcare industry is beginning to learn from similar industries that have undergone tremendous change. Some Fortune 500 computer companies, for example, spend top dollar to train and re-train executives.
"The healthcare industry is finally catching up, although human-resources development and training are still somewhat behind," Mr. Wong said.
He encourages a healthy, cohesive work environment for executives. "The friendly organization will be a more comfortable place to manage," he said.
However, he warns that executives who become too comfortable with traditional management models will fail in establishing integrated delivery systems.