CHICAGO — For hospital leaders, it's time to view these days of tumult as a chance to reinvent their organizations and begin anew, rather than mourn the death of a long-successful model. Focus on the victories your institution achieves every day, rather than the struggles — just like those of us here in Chicago are enjoying this unexpected balmy weather when we know a late-season blizzard still lurks.
That was one of the many motivational messages delivered by new ACHE Chairman Richard Cordova during the opening session of the college's 2015 annual meeting Monday. Cordova, also the president and CEO of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, provided the packed room of hospital leaders with words of inspiration during our uncertain times. "Never let a good crisis go to waste," said Cordova, quoting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"Over the past few years, it seems that we have been focusing on what is wrong with the system of care in our country," Cordova said. "Yes, we absolutely know we have to improve, and I'm convinced that we know what we have to do. Let's celebrate the progress that we've made. Society sees our missteps, but they also see the miracles that we perform day in and day out."
As hospitals take on new tasks — from managing the health of populations to owning insurance plans — they'll need to get creative with where they find future leaders. ACHE's 2015–2017 strategic plan recognizes this, Cordova said. The plan highlights the college's need to "extend and adapt" its offerings to target future health care leaders who will come from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. Tomorrow's C-suite members will require expertise in both physician and health plan management, on top of their know-how in running a hospital. So, ACHE is shifting its research efforts to professionals across the continuum of care, including physician and nurse executives and health plan leaders.
Regardless of where your next executive cut his or her teeth, that person should be keenly focused on improving the patient's perception of the hospital.
"I recall a time in my career when hospital clinics had blocked appointments," Cordova said. "All the patients showed up at 9 o'clock, and the doctors got to choose which ones they saw first. Well, that doesn't hold anymore." Today, the patient experience is a priority, he said, adding that "it's not because it's a competitive advantage. It's because it's the right thing to do."
Cordova closed his speech by offering 10 lessons for hospital leaders that he has learned during his long career in the field:
1. Engage a mentor early in your career.
2. Be a lifelong learner.
3. Everything is temporary.
4. Constantly reinvent yourself.
5. Be kind to your body.
6. You're only as good as your team.
7. Lead from your heart.
8. Culture counts.
9. Put family first.
10. Paint your own picture for your organization.
For more lessons from top hospital leaders, check out our video interview with Rich Umbdenstock and Kevin Lofton, who were honored with ACHE's Gold Medal Award.