Not only must we act ethically as individuals and lead by example, but it is critical that healthcare leaders foster an ethical culture in their organizations. The ACHE provides a number of additional resources to this end, including:
- The ACHE's ethics toolkit, which provides access to a group of resources to help healthcare leaders integrate ethics into their organization's culture.
- Ethical policy statements, which present the ACHE's position on various ethical issues. These are drafted at the committee level and reviewed and updated on a regular basis by the ACHE's Board of Governors. The statements can serve as a useful personal resource and in the development of policies at individual healthcare organizations.
- Regular columns in the ACHE's Healthcare Executive magazine and books from Health Administration Press that address a variety of ethical dilemmas.
- Educational programs such as the ACHE's ethics seminar at the Congress on Healthcare Leadership and the annual ethics program, funded in part by the ACHE's Fund for Innovation in Healthcare Leadership.
Using these tools in my own organization, we have been able to create a structure that measures and monitors our internal culture of ethical behavior. We are able to better evaluate our own behavior and develop a process whereby the organization is able to find ways to learn, share and improve without fear of reprisal. I encourage you to access the ACHE's code of ethics, ethical policy statements, ethics toolkit and ethics self-assessment from the ethics area of the ACHE's home page at ache.org. These resources are available to ACHE members and nonmembers alike.
To keep the code of ethics current with the times, the ACHE recently conducted research about use of the code. Results will be used to again refine this document so it continues to serve as a valuable guide to the field. As ACHE chairman, I will do my part to ensure that ethics remains at center stage as the ACHE and the field moves forward. I ask you to do your part—as healthcare leaders—to build and enhance the ethical foundation in your organization, thus strengthening the profession and the service we provide to our communities.
I am convinced that making the ACHE code of ethics a part of your leadership system is not only the best way to prepare for healthcare reform but also is the best business decision. Doing the right things for the right reasons will help us create organizations that are productive and sustainable.
It is also true that being able to uphold strong ethical conduct will help us withstand the scrutiny of an increasingly transparent industry brought about by healthcare reform. And the assurance we can provide to our patients and our communities that we are doing the right things for the right reasons is the real benefit of a vibrant ACHE code of ethics. I encourage all of us to measure our conduct and improve our focus.
Rulon Stacey is the chairman of the American College of Healthcare Executives and president and CEO of Poudre Valley Health System, Fort Collins, Colo.