NEW ORLEANS — Over the last decade, the leadership programs at Northwell Health have saved the 21-hospital system more than $9 million.
The Great Neck, N.Y.-based system has made it a priority to promote managers, physicians and clinicians to high-level administrative positions in the organization.
Northwell has partnered with Hofstra University and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to establish a curriculum that reflects the changing healthcare landscape and the organization. As a result, Northwell has a pipeline of leaders who are well-rounded in all elements of healthcare but also understand the mission and values of the system, Kathleen Gallo, senior vice president and chief learning officer, said at Modern Healthcare's 8th annual Workplace of the Future Conference in New Orleans.
The time, money and resources saved by promoting from within has encouraged some large healthcare organizations to develop competitive leadership programs. At the same time, the complexity of new reimbursement models has raised the bar for what's expected of administrative staff.
The importance of developing leaders who can address the complex problems that arise at a health system motivated Sentara Healthcare to develop a leadership program.
Twice a month, a class of about 15 employees meets with leaders of the organization who act as their mentors. Throughout the six-month course, the students are divided into groups and are told to work together to solve a real-life problem the system faces.
Mike Gentry, senior corporate vice president and chief operating officer at the Norfolk, Va.-based system, said the approach prepares future administrators for the realities of healthcare leadership. “The depth of knowledge needed is extraordinary, and that is forcing organizations to find leaders who can work together.”
Northwell has also established programs to ensure employees are prepared for the changing reimbursement climate. The Physician Leadership Institute, which trains physicians to be leaders, has a course on healthcare finance so “they know where the money is coming from,” Gallo said.
Leadership programs have also allowed systems to increase diversity within the organization. A more diverse workforce is “top of mind” at the Ascension Leadership Institute, the leadership academy of the St. Louis-based system, said Carol Whittington, senior vice president of the program.
When Ascension selects who will be part of the Leadership Academy, they strive to ensure the background of participants is as diverse as the communities they serve, she said.
A curriculum is established that is taught by executives from within the organization or experts outside of it. About 75% of those who graduate from the academy are promoted to higher-level positions at the 141-hospital system, Whittington said.
But the institute also strives to ensure it is fostering executives who are aligned with its faith-based mission. “We approached this as a holistic development program. We wanted a leader in mind, body and spirit,” Whittington said. Ascension "is a Catholic healthcare system so we wanted to incorporate that spiritual formation.”