When it comes to healthcare leadership, Thomas Royer, M.D., is certainly the voice of experience.
During three decades in management, Royer has migrated from one well-regarded physician-led organization to another.
The 60-year-old board-certified surgeon has served as president and chief executive officer of Irving, Texas-based Christus Health since September 1999. Before that, he was senior vice president of medical affairs and chairman of the board at Henry Ford Medical Group in Detroit.
Previously, Royer held several management roles, including CEO of Johns Hopkins Medical Services Corp. and Wyman Park Medical Associates in Baltimore. Before that he served as medical director and held other positions during an 18-year stint at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.
Royer is on the executive committee of the American Hospital Association and served as a trustee of the Medical Group Management Association from 1996 until 2000.
And he's a seasoned public speaker to boot.
So it's no surprise the MGMA tapped Royer to conduct a session titled "Managing Your Managers," set for Monday, Oct. 22, from 11: 15 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m. The session is being marketed to physician managers.
Royer says he'll broaden the assigned topic a bit, to address ways to move an organization from mediocrity to excellence. He'll talk about the technical and artistic skills needed for today's healthcare leaders and the importance of measuring performance, accountability, careful use of resources and "operationally oriented" strategic planning, as well as ways to integrate physicians into operations.
"I will be talking about the changing roles and responsibilities, and how the picture looks differently than five years ago or 10 years ago," Royer says.
Some argue healthcare managers are under unprecedented pressure, given their fiscal constraints. At the same time, healthcare organizations have cultures that are difficult to change. Turnover is high, Royer says.
"I'm going to end up asking the question: Is it worth it to be a leader or a manager in healthcare today?" he says. Clearly, Royer's answer is yes, even though for him, it's meant long hours away from family, he says. Royer is married and has four adult children, but he says honing his leadership skills has enhanced the quality of his relationships.
"For me it's worth it because I think the skills you need to be a good leader are the same skills you need to be a good spouse or a good parent, or to have good relationships with people. I feel those skills are very transportable," he says.