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From scratch: A tale of diversity in action

By | January 25 th,  2019 | Changing Face of Healthcare Leadership, Diversity in action, Young executives, Working Effectively | Add A Comment

Mario Garner drives success through mirroring the community



What would you do if you had the opportunity to start a hospital from scratch? How would you staff your leadership team? What type of culture would you strive to create?


Mario Garner, now the chief operating officer for two Memorial Hermann hospitals in Houston,
MH Southeast, Pearland and a free-standing emergency room, has had the chance to start with a blank 
slate twice, and he’s not even 40 yet.


In 2013, he became the CEO of New Orleans East Hospital, which was built after Hurricane Katrina decimated the neighborhood in which it is placed. And in 2015, he moved to Texas to serve as CEO of the new Memorial Hermann Pearland Hospital.


“It was a tremendous opportunity to build a team to meet the needs of the respective communities,” Garner says today. “It was a clean slate, so I did not inherit a way of doing things. I was able to spark a level of interest by being creative with the teams I was able to build at these respective campuses.”


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Diversity is a must-have ingredient


In both cases, Garner made it a point to make sure his leadership teams reflected the communities they served. New Orleans East is an urban hospital in the inner city; Pearland is in a diverse suburban setting in the Houston metro area.


Diversity has been shown to be essential for successful organizations. Study after study shows that companies with diverse leadership are more successful financially, are more innovative, function better and make more deliberate decisions than those lacking diversity.


“The leadership teams at both of these de novo hospitals were able to bring innovative ideas and best practices from various other locations,” he adds. “At New Orleans East Hospital, we were able to recruit physicians fairly easily. By the time we opened the doors, we had more than 100 credentialed physicians for the campus – which spoke to the physicians’ interest. Some were eager to return to the community, while others wanted to come in and serve in what was in many regards an underserved area. We also didn’t have the challenges of overcoming an aged physical plant, so it was very easy to recruit.”


Pearland was a bit different situation, but just as exciting, he says. “Memorial Hermann has a methodology for operating our hospitals, so we were able to take many of those components and lay them as a foundation. Then, we were able to build on that with the unique aspect of opening a new hospital and establishing a positive culture, one that would create employee engagement, as well as engagement with our physicians and patients.”


Working effectively with the board


The unique governance structures of both hospitals also gave Garner broad experience in very different situations.


“At Memorial Hermann, I had the opportunity to work closely with corporate infrastructure,” he says. “I reported to a regional president who was able to provide significant guidance as

to the Memorial Hermann way of hospital operations. She helped me overcome any barriers or roadblocks when it came to acquiring what I needed to execute contracts and other activation components to get the hospital open on time and under budget.”


New Orleans East was completely different. The hospital was built with ...


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A template for change: Continual transformation is a must for leaders

By | January 8 th,  2019 | change management, Changing Face of Healthcare Leadership, change agents, transformational leadership | Add A Comment

Atrium Health’s Gene Woods provides guidance for enacting a ‘relentless pursuit of excellence’GeneWoods-Headshot


At a recent Modern Healthcare gathering on transformation, Atrium Health CEO Gene Woods gave an impassioned presentation on how health systems need to evolve and reinvent themselves. Yet he also says continual transformation is something he and his leadership team must take to heart themselves.


“In my 27-year career, the field is changing faster than any of us anticipated,” he says in an interview. “Just look at Medical knowledge and how it is now doubling every several months. This is just one small example of why it’s so important for healthcare leaders to be learning, and that’s what my team and I have been doing. It’s probably been more intentional than anything I’ve ever done.”


A quote from leadership expert and former GE chairman Jack Welch is something Woods can quote from memory on this topic: “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, then irrelevance is near.”


Thus, among other actions, Woods and his team have created an ongoing series of what he calls “Home and Aways,” where successful and innovative healthcare organizations visit Atrium to share best practices, and Atrium leaders travel to other healthcare companies to do the same.


The exchanges benefit the organizations, but also serve as leadership development exercises for the teams involved. Managing change is high on a CEO’s list these days, and organizational leaders must be painstaking in making sure their teams are aligned. That, in part, has led to a rise in the use of executive team performance training.


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How other industries adapt to change


But Woods’ interest in transformation doesn’t stop at the boundaries of the healthcare industry. “Sometimes, we can be insular as a field,” he says, “and not recognize what other fields are doing as they’re adapting to change.”


So, Woods leans on his board chair, Ed Brown, to help him and his senior leaders learn from other industries as well.  Brown put together the financing for the new stadium that is home to NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Brown currently serves as CEO of Hendrick Motors, the most recognized brand in auto racing, and Woods notes that the entire auto industry is going through transformation as well.


“The key thing,” Woods says, “is being more intentional, not just around what’s happening with other health systems throughout the country but looking at what’s happening in other industries and how they have adapted over time.”


Forward thinking is part of what has made Woods, the former chair of the American Hospital Association, one of the most influential CEOs in the country. Even when he took the reins of Atrium two years ago (then known as Carolinas HealthCare System), he left no stone unturned in examining and reinventing a historically successful organization.


“I think the changes we’re making are about how to continue to position ourselves to be successful for the next decade and beyond,” he says. “Standing still is not an option. Standing still is going backwards. And so, we continue this relentless pursuit of excellence. That requires that we continue to make changes. The resiliency in the face of change is something I’ve really been proud of in our team.”


Examining one’s own leadership


Woods says he expects just as much openness to change in himself as he does in the Atrium team.


“My philosophy is this: No matter how accomplished of a leader you are, no more than 60 percent of your experience will be relevant to your new organization; there’s probably 40 percent that you have to learn and digest. That keeps you a bit humble and keeps you in a listening mode,” he says.


A leader who goes into a new position simply planning to share their vaunted experience “may miss some of the cultural cues,” Woods adds.


For reasons such as these, an increasing number of ... 


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Tim Frischmon: Leading by influence in a matrixed organization is key for leaders in the payer space

By | January 15 th,  2016 | Furst Group, executive, Tim Frischmon, Aine Cryts, Blog, Changing Face of Healthcare Leadership, leadership, Managed Healthcare Executive, matrix, provider, payer | Add A Comment


Furst Group principal Tim Frischmon is interviewed in the new issue of Managed Healthcare Executive, commenting on how the rapidly changing healthcare industry has created a huge need for executives to adapt and evolve as well.


In the article by Aine Cryts, "The Changing Face of Healthcare Leadership," Frischmon notes that leaders will need to use their influence to lead in organizations that increasingly have a matrix structure. And those that succeed will be the ones who are able to help their staffs tune out all the speculation about consolidation that has been occurring in the payer space.


"The challenge," he says, "will be to keep employees focused on executing on [their work], despite all the noise going on about the expectations the outside world has about the mergers."


Leaders also will need to pay attention to the convergence that is building between payers and providers, Frischmon notes. And one thing that won't change as a measure of a CEO's success is revenue.


"Payers still have to be profitable. Leaders will still have to demonstrate how they build deep, solid relationships with providers," Frischmon says. "They'll also need to demonstrate how they're able to identify and build some stickiness with their brand among members, and they'll have to measure their success."


Read the full story by clicking here.



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