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What healthcare leaders need to know now

M & A in practice: A ground-level view

By | February 14 th,  2019 | leadership traits, Ground-level view, Harnessing your board, clinical training, decision-making | Add A Comment

First-time CEO Ronnie Ursin shares lessons learned through his experience with Tower Health


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The healthcare news cycle fills up fast these days with news of mergers and acquisitions. But what really happens at ground level as organizations are acquired or come together? Ronnie Ursin, chosen as one the 10 Leaders to Watch by Modern Healthcare as part of its Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare program, has gotten a close-up look at one of those situations since being named the CEO at Jennersville Hospital in West Grove, Pennsylvania.

 

Reading Health System purchased five local hospitals from a major healthcare chain. Reading renamed itself Tower Health and hired Ursin, a former Reading executive who was working as a chief nursing officer at a hospital in his home state of Louisiana, to lead the 63-bed Jennersville facility.

 

“Speaking from the standpoint of Tower Health, one of the things we are working on very diligently and carefully is the organizational culture,” Ursin says. “About 95 percent of the staff at Jennersville Hospital worked in the previous culture.”

 

Ursin has held several “town hall” meetings with all Jennersville staff members since taking over.

“We are trying to take their feedback and put it into action,” he says. “We still have some people on the fence, but we are doing our best to communicate that we are going to do our best for our patients and staff, and we are going to do right by our doctors. That’s going to drive our success.”

Cultural implications can sometimes be overlooked in M & A as most of the attention is laser-focused on financials, yet evidence is clear that few things can derail a transaction more quickly. Taking time to work diligently and thoughtfully with all affected team members is essential, for human capital remains a company’s greatest asset.

 

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Actions speak volumes for leaders

 

Jennersville’s previous owner was hampered by large financial losses at its facilities across the country. Ursin and his team have come in and targeted tangible improvements to infrastructure and equipment, demonstrating a willingness to invest in its staff and demonstrating good faith at the same time.

 

“We have a full plan to invest in surgical scopes and other instruments. We’re investing in getting more patient care equipment such as EKG machines, and facility upgrades. And we’re looking at potentially bringing in a Da Vinci robot device to support our service lines,” he says.

 

Tower Health, says Ursin, also is installing the Epic health IT system to achieve the aim of patients having just one chart across the entire health system.

 

Carrying through on promises builds credibility for new leaders, and employee engagement rises. That, in turn, usually translates to increased productivity, something that Ursin and Tower are conscious of.

 

Harnessing your board

 

In building a new culture, Ursin and his leadership team have help. At the board level, Ursin’s directors are carrying the message as well. Since they have been interwoven into the community for some time, their involvement carries no small weight.

 

“Because Tower Health is new to the community, a major part of our board members’ role is to convey the message we have about advancing health and transforming the lives of the people in our community. They are taking our initial quality initiatives and are able to articulate that to members of the community.”

 

Board members have greater responsibility and experience higher stakes in today’s healthcare climate. The best CEOs provide ...

 

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Women in Healthcare Leadership

By | January 30 th,  2019 | women in leadership, Modern Healthcare, Modern Healthcare Top 25 Women, women leaders, Top 25 Women in Healthcare, leadership traits | Add A Comment
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Real-world advice: ‘As more women join boards and demonstrate the value they add, the system will become self- perpetuating,’ says Helena Morrissey

 

 

The American people have spoken. A majority want more women leaders in business and politics, even though they also believe women typically have to work harder to prove their skills and have more obstacles on their way to the top. In fact, 54 percent say gender discrimination plays a large role in why there aren’t more women in positions of executive leadership.1

 

Those are some of the results of a fascinating new study by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. Their implications are implicit: Pressure is growing for better gender and ethnic diversity in every sphere of public life.1

 

As longtime sponsors of the Top 25 Women in Healthcare leadership awards curated by Modern Healthcare, we have seen the momentum and the drumbeat growing for this type of sea change. While challenges certainly remain – the number of women who are employed as CEOs of the companies in the S&P 500 is declining instead of increasing – we remain optimistic that transformation is in the offing.

 

The corporate world can be slow assimilating societal changes, yet society is clamoring for more women in leadership. According to Pew, Americans view women leaders as better than male leaders in:

  • Creating a safe and respectful workplace
  • Valuing people from different backgrounds
  • Considering the societal impacts of major decisions
  • Mentoring young employees
  • Providing fair pay and good benefits

While male leaders get the nod in people’s perceptions that they are better at negotiating profitable deals and taking risks, the value placed on female leaders does not end there. Asked specifically about gender and political leadership, for example, the Pew survey results reveal that women are perceived as stronger in standing up for what they believe in, being honest and ethical, working out compromises, and being compassionate and empathetic.1 Who wouldn’t want to work for leaders like that?

 

The situation in healthcare

Only 8 of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. have a woman CEO, according to a 2016 survey conducted by Rock Health2, a venture fund dedicated to supporting “companies improving the quality, safety, and accessibility of our healthcare system”.3 While the lack of senior female leadership is not unique to healthcare, it is notable that ...

 

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Leadership in action: How one organization is creating a strong development program

By | December 11 th,  2018 | Leadership Development, developing leaders, leadership traits, talent pipeline | Add A Comment

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Deanna Banks, Principal - Furst Group, was recently asked to join the advisory board for MD Anderson’s Leadership Institute. This phenomenal group of professionals and experts from all areas of healthcare and leadership is charged with supporting MD Anderson’s initiative to create a development program for existing and upcoming leaders within their organization.

 

By examining a wide-range of challenges and opportunities leaders will face, including transformation change, multi-generational teams, emotional intelligence, and more, MD Anderson hopes to dig deep into what works and what doesn’t from a curriculum and real-world application standpoint. The advisory board aims to share trends, best practices, theory and other insights that will help guide the organization in their efforts.

 

Banks’ strong background in diversity, governance and talent management allows her to bring a unique, practical application perspective on these topics. Having worked with hundreds of organizations and thousands of leaders in her 20+ years of executive recruitment, Banks brings a core body of knowledge that balances well with the backgrounds and experience of others on the advisory board.

 

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“I look forward to engaging with the board and the amazing team at MD Anderson,” said Banks. “This is an exceptional opportunity to build a program with a strong foundation in academics and theory, as well as real-life application and best practices that most organizations struggle to create, but MD Anderson has tapped some of the best minds in the space to assist in their efforts. The collective intelligence of this team will no doubt result in the development of an outstanding program.”

 

 

Physician leadership profile: Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck brings rare perspective to healthcare’s most vexing issues

By | December 5 th,  2018 | population health, healthcare disparities, healthcare executives, value-based care, physician leadership, leadership traits, mission-based leadership | Add A Comment

Hasbrouck-LamarAt a time when the healthcare industry is putting a premium on physician leadership, while seeking to address the disparities threatening value-based care, few executives are better positioned at the convergence of those streams than LaMar Hasbrouck.

 

Hasbrouck, who holds an MD and an MPH, is Senior Advisor for Strategy and Growth with the American Medical Association. He helps design and build the association’s equity portfolio, as well as cultivate corporate and private foundation relationships. He also guides the association’s chronic disease initiatives and heads efforts to improve internal team cohesion.

 

“I describe my job as a strategy whisperer,” he says. “I’m a fresh set of eyes to look at problems in healthcare and advise the Group VP where we should be putting our resources and what types of talent we should hire.”

 

But don’t be fooled; that fresh set of eyes has experienced a lot. Hasbrouck has worked at the local, state, federal and international level in healthcare. He worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 11 years, first as a senior medical officer and later as the director of its work in Guyana, South America.  He was health commissioner of New York’s Ulster County, leader of the Illinois Department of Public Health and CEO of the National Association of County & City Health Officials.

 

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That’s a rare perspective on some of healthcare’s most vexing issues. As such, he finds that the various entities don’t often work well together. That’s a challenge, because all hands are needed to try to solve the tenacious problems in healthcare.

 

“The local level works best with the state level, and the state works well with the federal, but the local and federal levels don’t work well together,” he says. “Then, at the global level, there tends to be a real disconnect in that the U.S. government tends to be one small layer in a very large pool with a lack of fluidity.”

 

Despite his distinguished track record, Hasbrouck is bold in championing solutions outside traditional thinking and is eager to bring his experience to bear on a wide range of issues. His international experience, from South America to Africa, also has molded his views.

 

“What I have learned in my travels is that innovation is essential for solving problems, yet it’s the simple things that you take for granted,” he says. “For instance, when I was in Uganda, we had problems getting medications into hard-to-reach areas. We considered flying the medicine in, but then we came up with the idea of a motorcycle tag team using dry ice to keep the medicine cool.

 

“We didn’t stop there. We trained some laypeople as health workers to address the most common side effects with the patients.”

 

Hasbrouck grew up in a world where preventive health didn’t exist. His family, led by a single mom, was, for a period, reliant on welfare to survive.

 

“It might be surprising to some people, but it was a very happy time,” he says. “We were materially poor, but spiritually and culturally rich. We were inventive in our play because we didn’t have material things. I didn’t know I was deprived, although there were clearly not a lot of male role models who were white-collar professionals.”

 

Yet it’s precisely that upbringing that gives Hasbrouck his mission in stamping out inequity in care.

 

“I have lived that experience and it gives me credibility,” he says. “I’m very driven by my personal narrative. I have chosen roles carefully by the impact I can have through my skills and competencies.

 

“That’s who I am.”

 

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Pamela Sutton-Wallace identifies 3 key traits for CEOs

By | October 18 th,  2018 | Pamela Sutton-Wallace, women in leadership, leadership traits, Lean leadership, Key traits for CEOs, Six Sigma in Healthcare | Add A Comment
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Real-world advice: ‘Operational knowledge is essential to casting vision,’ says Pamela Sutton-Wallace

 

 

In her four years as the CEO of the University of Virginia Medical Center, Pamela Sutton-Wallace has led the push to transform care delivery with an unwavering focus on quality, patient safety and service.  

 

Together with Executive Vice President Richard P. Shannon, she introduced Lean principles and implemented new processes and structures to equip the entire team with the skills needed for this transformation.

 

The medical center conducts a daily 10 a.m. huddle with leaders and managers from across the organization to immediately tackle any issues related to mortalities, infections, patient falls or staff-member injuries that may have occurred in the previous 24 hours.

 

In addition, she hired additional team members to afford frontline staff more time to focus on and participate in continuous improvement activities, ensuring that the organization was meeting its aggressive performance goals. But she kept it as simple as possible.

 

“Our organization collects and reports almost 500 quality measures, and we’re a relatively small organization,” she says. “There’s no way an organization can effectively improve all of those measures simultaneously, so I told my team, ‘Let’s focus on those measures with the greatest opportunity for improvement and where we can be most effective.’ ”

 

Sutton-Wallace sees three qualities as essential for the CEO role. 

 

#1 Dedicated Focus

In addition to her experience in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, Sutton-Wallace credits her background as an operations leader (for Duke University Hospital) as solid preparation for her role as CEO.

 

In succession planning, of course, a chief operating officer is is often viewed as the heir apparent when the CEO leaves. In fact, an ErnstYoung study revealed that 54 percent of COOs in rapid-growth markets desired to ascend to the CEO role. EY noted that its research showed many other C-suite leaders “are typically happier to remain where they are.”

 

“I do think having operational knowledge is essential to casting vision,” Sutton-Wallace says,
“because it’s essential to understand what is required to translate your vision into operational reality. Ideally, you would have seen in an operations role what it takes to accomplish it. Achieving one’s vision requires a deep understanding of organizational culture and how to motivate and inspire those who do the work every day. My operations background has been absolutely crucial in my ability to lead.”

 

She’s been around healthcare long enough to have seen  ...

 

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The organizational advantages of authentic leadership

By | October 16 th,  2018 | developing leaders, Tiara Muse, Megan Heim authentic, Chicago Healthcare Executives Forum, leadership traits, authentic leadership | Add A Comment

How can you be strategic about your career and goals while being true to yourself and treating the people around you with empathy and encouragement?

 

That’s the focus of our latest article, “Authentic Leadership: 4 Ways to Make Your Passion Purposeful,” which is featured in the new publication from the Chicago Healthcare Executives Forum, part of the American College of Healthcare Executives. 

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Written by Furst Group’s Director of Research Tiara Muse and Vice President Megan Heim, the article makes a strong case that leadership is based on earned trust – and that the surest path to trust is by allowing yourself to be transparent with your team and letting qualities like empathy and humility shine through. Look out for your team and embrace opportunities for them to grow into their own leadership skills as well.

 

“Build a strong reputation as a leader with the competence and compassion to develop other leaders,” Muse and Heim write. “Ensure your open-door policy is not just lip service, and genuinely ask for feedback.”

 

Leaders should also be self-aware, cognizant of their strengths and areas that need development. Mentors can be helpful in this area, as well as discussions with executive recruiters, who are well-networked in the healthcare industry. But don’t overlook the counsel of peers as well.

 

“The best leaders network strategically,” Muse and Heim say. “Many people look up the organizational leader too often and not across the aisle or down the hall as they think through career development. The executives at the top don’t have all the answers; utilize your peers.” 

 

When it comes to career development, they add, remain flexible and “maintain the posture of a continuous learner” to prepare yourself for unexpected twists and turns.

 

“Many aspects of your career may change in the next 5 to 10 years – the pace of innovation and disruption accelerates every year,” they add.

 

Finally, Muse and Heim counsel executives to be aware that their behavior – including the use of social-media platforms – can build their personal brand and reputation, so treat your career and the people around you with care. “The power of storytelling,” they note, “is a vital skill” for all leaders, not just marketing executives.

 

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