As we head into 2019, the U.S. healthcare industry will continue on its path of massive transformation. The last few years we’ve seen a major cultural and structural shift, caused largely by forces such as the Affordable Care Act, a move from fee-based to value-based care, and the growing adoption of technological innovations to meet changing regulations.
This challenging climate has led more medical providers to move from private practice to teams of specialists and, in many cases, larger health systems. All of this is causing friction as healthcare professionals struggle to contain costs and work across new organizational and cultural boundaries. Physician burnout and turnover are at an all-time high, staff satisfaction remains low, and patients are increasingly dissatisfied with their care delivery and access.
According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), U.S. healthcare spending rose to $3.5 trillion in 2017. Yet, according to the most recent report from the Commonwealth Fund, the U.S. ranked last place among the 11 countries for health outcomes, equity, and quality, despite our deep annual healthcare investment.
There is no question the healthcare industry is at a crossroads. Patients and payers alike have tasked providers with increasing the overall value of the care delivered—simultaneously reducing the cost, improving the quality, and optimizing the experience associated with healthcare services.
One study suggests that different organizational structures are needed if we are to efficiently achieve care delivery transformation. For example, cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiologists, and anesthesiologists working collaboratively in the same physical space could deliver team-based care to patients with cardiovascular disease. The study suggests that this simple change in care delivery requires a major organizational effort that can be achieved only with high-caliber leadership.
In a recent post, AchieveForum’s CEO Scott Bohannon shared his perspective on the growing need for resilience in the industry healthcare. Resilient healthcare organizations are able to transform destructive stress into productive stress and use it as fuel for adaptation, and in the process eliminate or dramatically reduce the cause of the stress and its impact.
We can build resilience and ultimately enhance care delivery by democratizing access to the best leadership resources. Democratizing access is about spreading leadership development more evenly throughout all levels of the organization, which can help stimulate a new breed of agile leaders.
So, how do we create this next generation of healthcare leadership? Here is some food for thought:
- We need to shift the line of thinking from preparing a few leaders for specific situations to helping all practitioners become leaders armed for success in every situation.
- We must contextualize our leadership training for each individual and actively engage different leadership skills.
- We must recognize that how content is delivered is as critical as the content itself. We all learn and absorb in different ways; we therefore need to listen and adapt to the needs of our future leaders.
- We need to focus on the development of soft skills for employees who work one-on-one with patients and clients.
- We must teach healthcare leaders to work collectively across organizational boundaries to prioritize overall patient care rather than the success of their component of it.
A core tenet of the Hippocratic Oath, one of the oldest binding documents in history and held sacred by physicians, is centered around the idea of knowledge sharing; physicians are entrusted to share their knowledge for the benefit of their patients and for the advancement of healthcare. Our next generation of healthcare leaders (physicians, nursing staff, admins, and so on) can achieve this standard and transform care delivery through the democratization of knowledge and leadership development.
Stay tuned as I continue to explore this concept and share examples of how other industries have unlocked leadership knowledge and content to build leadership at every level of the organization.