Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Can’t We All Just Get Along

It seems that everywhere we look lately, an unwillingness to compromise is bringing progress to a halt. I think that’s because so many folks view an individual or organization’s willingness to seek common ground as a sign of weakness or failure. I would argue, however, that the decision to seek compromise is actually the hallmark of strong leadership.

Think about it. Whether you are negotiating with a team member or competitor, your decision to come to the table and work things out signifies that you are willing to put personal feelings aside and do what is best for your organization and your customers. Compromise offers additional benefits as well, including building trust, gaining greater insight into employees or competitors, the opportunity to lead by example and obtaining a deeper understanding of the challenges you face.

And so, I encourage you to look at compromising as an opportunity instead of a threat. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind while you are working to find common ground:
  • Listen not to answer, but to really hear: openly listen to the other side and you will learn something invaluable
  • Know your limits and those of others: come to the table knowing what you are willing to agree to and where you will draw your line in the sand
  • Think of new solutions: maybe it is not either or; perhaps the answer lies in a new opportunity or solution
  • Understand the consequences: make sure you have a handle on the repercussions of walking away without reaching a deal 
  • Keep it positive and professional: regardless of the outcome, at the end of the day your reputation and how others view you matters 

The bottom line is that compromising has its advantages and is critical to leadership success. And who knows, you might just gain more than you give.

Friday, March 16, 2018

An amendment that would hurt hospital care

This month, the future of health care in Florida will be in the hands of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission when it decides whether to place the fate of the Certificate of Need program on the November ballot.
While most Floridians have never heard of CON, this regulation has a tremendous impact on the health and well-being of all of the state’s residents. In simple terms, the CON program is a regulatory process designed to limit health care costs and promote planning for new health care services and facilities.
Some elected officials would like to see CON repealed, arguing that deregulating health care would reduce costs and improve quality. I, along with a large majority of my colleagues, disagree. While deregulation may lower costs in a free market, it’s important to remember that hospitals don’t operate in a free market. We don’t set the cost of our services, and we treat everyone regardless of their ability to pay.
We believe that deregulating health care is not good for our community and state. It could trigger a chain reaction that would cause three problems for residents: an increase in health care costs, a decline in the quality of care and a decrease in access to care.
I am the first to admit that CON is a complex issue. It can certainly be hard to understand in a snappy sound bite, and even harder to imagine how it could affect you and your family. So, let’s consider it from the patient’s perspective and examine what things could look like in Florida if CON is repealed:
Scenario 1
Stephanie comes to the hospital to have an outpatient knee replacement procedure performed after the repeal of CON. While CON was in place, her insurer had a set rate it paid for the procedure. But without CON, an influx of new providers could pour into the community and force significant consolidation — meaning health systems could add a number of hospitals across a geographic area, allowing them to negotiate higher reimbursement rates from insurance companies. This higher insurance cost could be passed along to Stephanie through premiums and deductibles. At the end of the day, she could actually pay more for her procedure in a post-CON world. This is the increase in cost of care.
Scenario 2
Mike schedules his brain surgery at his local hospital, an institution he knows and trusts. However, if CON goes away, the number of these surgeries that the hospital performs may drop dramatically. Imagine going from more than 2,000 brain surgeries each year to half as many because new rival hospitals in town do the same procedures. If cases decrease, the hospital’s medical team won’t work together as often. The number of procedures a medical team conducts correlates to quality and outcomes. An increase in volume equates to a higher quality; it’s the old adage practice makes perfect. Lower volume potentially means lower quality. This is the decline in quality of care.
Scenario 3
Patty is having a baby, but she might not be able to go to her local hospital to deliver because the hospital could be forced to discontinue its obstetrics program. With CON in place, many hospitals cross-subsidize obstetrics programs with more profitable programs. But if CON is repealed, the decrease in patient volume and revenue from those services could force the hospital to eliminate several services that make little or no money, including those needed by Patty. This is the decrease in access to care.
As you can see, the repeal of CON has the potential to negatively impact Floridians in a variety of ways. The bottom line is that everyone in our community deserves access to the best, most affordable health care and CON helps to ensure that.

Friday, March 2, 2018

In the Space

When it comes to social media, I strongly believe it can be used as an effective tool for communication. My active engagement on LinkedIn and the way I use my blog as a vehicle to disseminate thoughts on various topics is a clear example of that.

As a result, I read with great interest a recent interview with four health care influencers in Becker’s Hospital Review on the power of social media. It specifically discussed how they leverage technology to communicate more effectively.

As I read the interviews with Dr. Josh Luke, Chris Van Gorder, Dave Chase and Don Larsen - all four of whom are incredibly active in the health care social media space - I was struck by the collective similarities in their insights as well as how they mirrored my own. My takeaway was that engagement with social media offers the following benefits:

  • Promotes transparency: gives readers insight into how ‘the sausage is made’.
  • Enables connection with colleagues regardless of geography: you can form an ongoing relationship with thought leaders from across the country.
  • Allows sharing of best practices and serves as a platform to test drive ideas: here you can engage your network on initiatives you are considering prior to implementation. Learnings that come from this can save you from failures down the road.
  • Provides up-to-date insight on trends in the field: for many of us, Twitter followers and LinkedIn connections are like ‘having a personalized research staff’.
  • Offers up a vessel to disseminate health care information much more efficiently: for policy issues, there is nothing more powerful than being able to share information and your stance on an issue via social media.

Like my colleagues, I realize that the first foray into engaging with social media for professional communication can be a bit daunting, but once adopted, there is no denying that it’s a professional tool that can offer tremendous benefits.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Put Patients Before Profits: Protect Our Safety Net Hospitals

For decades, the most vulnerable Floridians have depended on the state’s safety net hospitals to save their lives and care for their health. Each year, these hospitals care for large numbers of low-income children, sick babies, senior citizens and pregnant women. Safety net hospitals provide a critical public service that the state has historically supported with vital funding.
Now, Florida’s for-profit hospitals want to raid $318 million in state tax dollars that goes to help these safety net hospitals care for those who need help the most. Hospitals owned by out-of-state corporations want to pad their profits with tax dollars that have long been used to safeguard Floridians’ health. These hospitals are asking the state Senate to risk the lives of our vulnerable residents in order to pump up their stock prices.
We respectfully ask our senators to consider our perspective that this is bad policy: If the for-profits get their way, the impact on the safety net hospitals would be devastating. For Tampa General Hospital, the largest hospital in the region serving those most in need, it would mean additional cuts of $14.4 million.
To continue reading the full column in the Tampa Bay Times, please click here.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lead and Repeat

With the Olympic Winter Games in full swing, it’s got me reflecting on the commitment and dedication it takes an athlete to compete at the highest level. These Olympians are awesome, and the amount of practice and time they invest to excel at their chosen sport is mind-blowing. As I watched them compete this week, I see that it’s not just practice that makes them perfect, but also their dedication to repetition that equals success.

Whether it is tracing the same figure in the ice day after day or the countless times each morning they work on mounting the bobsled, these athletes understand the power in repetition - doing the same thing over and over again in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

I, too, believe in the power of repetition. Not that I am a world-class athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but I have discovered that repetition is a critical component to my success when it comes to managing my team. And it turns out I am not alone. In fact, a 2011 study by Professors Tsedal Neely of Harvard and Paul Leonardi of Northwestern found that “managers who are deliberately redundant move their projects forward faster and more smoothly.”

While I know that I sometimes drive my team crazy emphasizing the same point over and over, I believe this is a critical technique to keeping us focused, mission-driven and on target to deliver the best possible outcomes. The simple reality is that some things need to be repeated in order to be fully realized and understood. Here, I am thinking specifically of an organization’s vision and values - both the culture and what you set out to accomplish, solve and deliver. By repeating these over and over to your team, they will begin to internalize them and then start to repeat them to others. At that point, you will all be speaking the same language and using the same playbook.

It is worth noting, however, that saying the same thing over and over can get a bit exhausting and sometimes, annoying to those around you. So, you need to make sure you change it up a bit from time to time. Don’t miss an opportunity to deliver your key messages in different formats - through an email, a team meeting or leading a call - and get creative in the delivery. Different team members will register key messages on different frequencies and in different ways, so changing things up is a helpful methodology to reach the entire team.

The bottom line is this: don’t be afraid to emphasize the same message over and over to your team. Be intentional and own it. It will help to crystalize your team’s collective focus and help you all achieve Olympic-like success. You might not all be able to land “the quad” but it will help you go for (and deliver) the gold.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Leading By Example

Someone recently asked me, “what is the first thing you think about when you walk into the hospital each morning?” For me, that’s a no brainer. The answer is my team.

Each morning, the item on the top of my mental to do list is what can I do to better support my team. How can I encourage them and provide them with all they need to deliver at a high level both professionally and personally? The reality is that if my team is taken care of, then I am confident our patients are well taken care of, and our organization is moving full speed ahead.

In order to develop and maintain a highly effective team, it is critical to both inspire and engage them on an ongoing basis. As a leader, there is a whole host of ways to do this, but here are a some of the tactics I have found to be most effective:

  • Walk a mile in their shoes: Spend part of the day shadowing teammates. Not only will you get a ground level view as to how your organization “really” runs, but you will have greater appreciation and insight into who they are and their commitment to the organization. More importantly, it will allow you the opportunity to build a meaningful connection with them.

  • Break down the wall: Be visible and accessible. Whether it is buying a team member a cup of coffee in the cafeteria or walking through the office on Monday to check in and swap stories about your weekends, letting your team get to know you outside the conference room is critical to success. 

  • Walk the walk and talk the talk: Be upfront and honest with your team. Share your successes and failures with them. Let them know you are all facing the same challenges and opportunities, and they will be more willing to jump on board and do whatever it takes for the organization.

  • Have their backs: Developing a level of trust with your team is one of the most important things you can do. If you want to build loyalty, you must demonstrate loyalty.  The most effective way to do this is by supporting them and showing them that you have their backs. If you have theirs, they will have yours. 

Your organization will run, and run well, with a team that is engaged and inspired to work hard each day. As the head of the organization, you set the tone and are the one who they look to for support and guidance. If they know you, trust you and believe that you have their best interests at heart, they will follow you anywhere you lead.