At a time when the country needs strong healthcare leadership, the practice community needs to engage with the higher educational community we are trusting to prepare our future leaders. Whether it's the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (which seems to get blamed or credited for virtually everything today), emerging payment models, or consumer-driven expectations, change is occurring faster than higher education can keep up with on its own.
We need to collaboratively revisit the competencies at the foundation of our profession and routinely evaluate them as healthcare continues to evolve. If we let our roles be defined by what the financial markets and rating agencies still incentivize—growth, market power and strong balance sheets—we will find it increasingly difficult to argue that healthcare management deserves the same professional stature as that of our clinical counterparts.
But if we broaden our focus—to include increasing access for all and meeting the triple aim of lower per capita costs, higher quality and better health—we will have unique and important contributions to make.
Perhaps it is time we pursued a Hippocratic oath for our own profession. Such an oath should help us remember that what happens outside our organizations is as important as what happens inside. It should help us pause to recognize that the enemy is not the competition; it is illness and disease. And it should help us stay focused on the higher purpose we chose when we entered healthcare administration.
Articulating a new vision and new competencies won't be easy, but the larger goals that we share with the public must be embedded in our profession, from our educational programs to the payment systems we support and respond to. Anything less and our profession risks losing the moral compass it needs to move policy and performance in the direction we all know is needed and possible.
Peter Butler is president and chief operating officer of Rush University Medical Center, Chicago.