Borrowing a term from Healthcare Financial Management Association President and CEO Richard Clarke, Silbaugh explained how healthcare is facing an economic triple storm caused by people being unable to pay for healthcare because they lost their jobs and their health insurance with it, the freezing of credit markets, and a slowdown in government payments.
We think, with the economic triple storm thats happening in healthcare, it creates a tremendous opportunity for innovation, Silbaugh said. The storms are creating opportunities that might never have occurred otherwise.
In addition, he said ACPE members are learning how to adjust to the inevitable, and this requires learning how to work as a team as opportunities to provide patient care on a one-on-one basis will become increasingly rare. Silbaugh cited research of how a typical primary care physician may be caring for a panel of 2,500 patients, but thats expected to increase to 7,500 over the next several years.
To transition into this brave new world, Silbaugh said healthcare needs to borrow lessons in working together from aviation and other high reliability industries such as nuclear power where safety is a team sport. Teamwork and collaboration is becoming much more important, he said. There has also been a strong push for ethical decision making and for ethics to be taken into consideration when tough decisions are made.
Guiding a team and making ethical decisions requires teamwork, but speakers at the meeting steered away from the traditional stereotype of the autocratic physician barking orders to an obedient staff.
The concept of meta-leadership was discussed by two experts from the Harvard School of Public Health: Leonard Marcus, co-director of the National Preparedness leadership Initiative, and Barry Dorn, associate director of the Program for Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.
They explained that a meta-leader possesses the emotional intelligence, self-awareness and self-regulation that enables them to confront fear and conflict; the situational awareness to diagnose a problem and build a solution using incomplete information; the ability to model and trigger self-confidence that inspires others; the ability to lead up, or manage the boss; and the ability to create cross-silo linkages that optimize an organizations performance.
Marcus, who was said to have spent the weekend helping train leaders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to present their plans for addressing swine flu, talked about the need to assemble a team of dogs that can hunt.
If you have those people, good things will happen, he said.SEE VIDEO ON SWINE FLU FEATURING A DISCUSSION WITH DORN AND MARCUS
Dorn noted the difference between leadership and management, and said the more you push leadership down into the ranks, the more successful youll be.
Dorn cited the U.S. Coast Guard is an example of this and noted how its crew that patrols Boston Harbor has the authorityafter issuing a warningto fire upon another vessel thats perceived as an immediate threat without having to go up the chain of command for permission.
The meeting closed with a familiar face with a familiar message: Charles Dwyer, academic director of the University of Pennsylvanias Aresty Institutes Leading and Managing People program of the Wharton School of Business.
Dwyer, a longtime ACPE speaker, repeated several of his phrases from last year including the message on the back of his business card: Never expect anyone to engage in a behavior that serves your values unless you give that person adequate reason to do so. And, again, he noted the difference between effective and feel-good behavior. If its effective, it probably doesnt feel good, Dwyer explained. If it feels good, its probably not effective.
Im sure some people could argue against having the same speakers every year, but if theyre effective, informative and entertaining, Im not going to be the one making that argument. Speakers who know their audiences, like Dwyer at the ACPE and Marc Sauvé, a Nashville-based healthcare strategist who regularly closes another meeting I regularly attend, the Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo, also know the difference between reinforcing a previous message and just repeating it.
Dwyer, whose message this year was that reinforcing positive behavior develops more effective leadership than trying to eliminate bad behavior, told how it often doesnt feel good to ask for help, but it can be effective in getting the job done and in empowering those who help you.
Little kids dont have a problem asking for help, he explained. They later learn that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Its un-American. Its Bolivian. I looked it up. Just kidding.
Dwyer urged leaders to take ownership of communication, which has the downside of taking ownership for miscommunication as well. And he did this by simultaneously poking fun at himself and complimenting his audience. I know I talk fast, he quipped. But I only do it in the presence of quick minds.
Focusing on eliminating bad behavior and using negative approaches to get people to do what you ask, Dwyer said, just leads to people performing with the minimum effort it takes to get you off their backs, or attempting to escape your influence or even some sort of revenge in an effort to salvage their self esteem. Instead, Dwyer recommends that leaders get in the habit of sending hand-written thank-you notes and offering praise and recognition. How many of you have had people in your organization say Ive had it up to here. If I get any more recognition, I quit?
It would be interesting to hear from people whose bosses attended Dwyers presentation and learn how much of his message sunk in. If your boss is more positive this week after attending the ACPE meeting, you may want to write a thank you note to Roger Schenke.
Andis Robeznieks reports on physician issues, healthcare construction/design and healthcare marketing. He covers healthcare business news in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
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