Asked what NCHL programs will be continued in the future, Garman and Lemak both noted the organization's annual invitational symposium and the related Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award, which is named in honor of the NCHL founding chairman and University of Michigan professor.
Both also said the group was likely to continue the NCHL Leadership Excellence Networks program—known commonly by its acronym LENS—which helps health systems share learning and create evidence-based benchmarks to improve executive competency.
“We're really excited about exploring how this might play out,” Lemak said. “We're going to spend this transition period understanding … what parts of it to carry forward and what parts of it we might do in a different way.”
Garman said the changes in NCHL's direction were spurred by a number of things, including the lack of a clear successor to Sinioris and a broader interest in the effects of healthcare reform. “There is significant change coming in healthcare, in the broadest possible sense with the reform legislation. The board said, how can we take these tools … and broaden that impact and get some scale in terms of the work they've been doing?”
NCHL has an annual budget of about $2.3 million and counts 11 health systems as members of its LENS network.
Although the announcement of the formation of the NCHL a decade ago attracted the eye of some critics, at least one person initially skeptical about the group said NCHL has had clear impacts, including improvements in graduate-level education for new healthcare executives.
“I think it's a solid move,” said Thomas Dolan, president and CEO of the American College of Healthcare Executives. “I think they've made real contributions to the field, and with Rush and University of Michigan supporting them, I think they will continue to make real contributions.”