Monday, August 16, 2010

Six Keys To High Performing Hospitals: Key #1

In an intensive study conducted by Lawrence Prybil, PH.D. and Samuel Levey, PH.D. which covered 123 hospitals in 40 states, they determined the short list of factors that made the high performing hospitals able to achieve that success. This study included interviews with key leadership at 10 high performing health systems. In today's post and subsequent ones I will provide my commentary on these factors. You will note that there is clearly overlap with this list and the ten key aspects of great leadership covered previously. This is no surprise, rather an affirmation of the bond between great leadership and high performance.

1) Strong values based leadership

Nine of the ten systems interviewed stressed how important it is to have strong leadership skills from the CEO. Leadership is different than management. It includes attributes such as commitment to the system's organizational mission and values, stellar communications and relationships with the board and medical staff, expertise in financial management and cost controls, a passion for continuous improvement and strategic vision.

It was also noted that the strong leadership must extend beyond the CEO position to all of the senior management team. Each of them brings their own area of expertise to the organization. Having a top leader who can attract this kind of talent and bring them together as a cohesive team is vital for the high performing hospital.

I can tell you from experience that this is more difficult than some people may assume. First you must create a culture that will be attractive to high performers. Even in today's economy with many people looking for work, high performers are difficult to attract. Then you must get these strong individuals to work as part of a team with other strong willed types. This part can be just as difficult. For some of these types, playing as part of a team is new to them. But it can be done and it must be done to achieve superior performance.

Ultimately though, it falls on the CEO to put this team together and to get them working collaboratively. If it is not happening, it is the Board's responsibility to make the necessary change in the top position.

More on keys to high performing hospitals tomorrow.

Mark Brodeur

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