As we look back at 2015 and ahead into 2016, we could forgive hospital leaders for being a little disheartened. The battle over Obamacare shows no sign of letting up, adding to the turmoil already created by such momentous market trends as health care consumerism, consolidation in the insurance industry, drug shortages, skyrocketing prescription prices, and much more.
But we here at H&HN have talked with dozens and dozens of hospital and health system leaders over the course of the year, and the last adjective I would use to describe any of them is “disheartened.” Despite dramatic changes and lingering uncertainty in the health care field, every one of them seems more engaged and energized than ever.
That’s evident in a regular feature in this magazine that we rather grandiosely call "The Interview." Each Q&A focuses on a topic dear to the heart of the individual, ranging from the nitty-gritty of running a hospital to broader ideas about how health care should evolve and improve. Although "The Interview" is on hiatus this month, you can read all this year’s installments here; but look for its return in these pages in January.
In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite quotes from 2015.
Anthony Tersigni, president and CEO of Ascension in St. Louis, on the need for “person-centered care”: “We’ve done a lot of focus groups over the last few years as we’ve refined our strategic direction, and they revealed four different areas [of what patients want]. They want us to respect them, they want us to include them, they want us to connect them and they want us to engage them.”
Ruth Brinkley, president and CEO of KentuckyOne Health, on the need for diversity in the hospital C-suite, boards and medical staff: “Now, I will grant you that sometimes finding people from varied ethnic groups who are health professionals or [are qualified for] boards is not easy. … So we have to figure out a way to cast a broader net and to really pay attention to the people who might not necessarily have everything you need, or to growing our own from within the ranks of our own organizations.”
Nicholas Tejeda, CEO of Doctors Hospital of Manteca in California, on the challenges of young hospital leaders: “Young CEOs can have chips on their shoulders and try to prove they belong, which means being overly aggressive … overconfident in their abilities and not willing to acknowledge that they make mistakes. By acknowledging a mistake publicly, it has a side benefit of showing humility.”
Loren Hamel, M.D., president and CEO of Lakeland Health in St. Joseph, Mich., on demonstrating compassion with patients: “ We all do safety rounds on a regular basis, and you get energy from doing that. But leaders have found that they get all that and much, much more from rounding the halls looking for and talking about compassionate care.”
Jonathan Perlin, M.D., 2015 board chair of the American Hospital Association, on the role of leaders and staff: “How are we going to try to lead the country toward better health in terms of weight, tobacco use, substance use, exercise and diet? We not only have an obligation to demonstrate leadership and practice what we preach, but, if we do this well, we become an exemplar for the rest of the country.”