As one wise recruiter once told me, "You can have a B resume which may open the door but you must have an A interview to walk through it."

Let me share ten basic elements that consistently come up in our interview reviews that if addressed would make a world of improvement in your ability to interview and drive the right message:

  1. Preparation: Know the five top critical elements of the opportunity and be able to address them with current experience and success. The five top criteria is the top five things they're looking for in their next candidate. Next understand the three other critical elements which are organization, position and location. Have specific information in each one as to your interest. The more specific the higher the impact.
  2. Mirroring: A good interview is like a dance, both partners are in sync with each other. Mirror to match tempo, breathing, rate-of-speech, directness, etc. This makes each one comfortable with each other and sets the correct filter.
  3. Listening to understand: We test this in every interview we do and the majority of people fail. We are so caught up in the world of listening to respond that we miss a vital part of the question.
  4. Introduce yourself with confidence.
  5. Take the lead: As you enter the interview, know exactly the statement you will make or the open-ended question you'll ask. Demonstrate your interpersonal skills and give yourself the greatest opportunity to connect with and engage your audience.
  6. Put together an effective two-minute presentation which includes three key components to drive your message as well as connect with your audience. Those components are humanization, elevator, and differentiation/value statement.
  7. Understand what a real achievement is and present that way.
  8. Answer questions concisely, close information gaps and enhance the answer when it adds value to the original thought.
  9. Always tell the truth but word it in a win-win presentation. This will provide consistency throughout the interview.
  10. Brand yourself so that your message is consistent.

I've done a lot of interview coaching over the last 22 years. Historically, most people have a starting grade in their ability to interview probably somewhere around a B- to a C+ through no fault of their own. We just don't do well on things we don't practice consistently. But imagine if you took the time to develop a well-executed interview. What a significant way to separate yourself from the crowd in a very competitive market!

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Landing Your Biggest Sale, Yourself!

Facilitating a successful job transition and search is a complex and intensive process. I have found most healthcare executives are trained and focused in their healthcare leadership roles, but are not experienced nor educated on how to conduct a successful job search and transition.

Frankly, most tend not to be very good at it.

Why is that? Most of us are good at things we do most of the time. None of us would be very good golfers if we golfed every two years. Job transitions are just like that. Executives don't have the opportunity to practice these skills often and there is real value in finding a coach or a partner who can accelerate the process.

Let me share a case of an executive that had tried to go it alone in her job transition and learned that with the right coach, training and navigation she could be very successful in her transition. She had the wisdom to realize she needed guidance to be successful.

To give you some insight, the client was a very high-level executive in a large health system. She had been trying to find a position on her own for approximately two years without success. Her organization had merged with another system who had the stronger position in the merger. The position they had offered her was not at the level she had been at and she decided to move on. She began conducting her own search process and was not as successful as she wanted to be. Eventually, she reached out to me for transition coaching.

What did she learn:

  • I didn't know what I didn't know.
  • I was not familiar with the current market and how competitive it is.
  • My approach to networking was limited and therefore I didn't have a deep or substantial network.

What were her outcomes:

  • My perspective on networking changed; it's much bigger and deeper than I thought it was.
  • My relationship building skills improved.
  • My communication skills improved.
  • Jim as a coach was always available to me. Especially at high anxiety points.
  • I was shown how I could do things better in the process.
  • My goals for the transition needed to be broadened. I was often coached to add another needed step.

Working with this executive was a very rewarding journey for me because she had been out so long and was concerned about her ability to make a successful transition. We quickly moved her forward with the appropriate skills and were successful in helping her land a very good position. She was an excellent partner.

Transition and search is a very specific sales process – the process of selling yourself! With the right coaching, education and practice you can have a very successful result.

Here's to your success,


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First and foremost, I want to wish you much success in 2016.

The new year is a time to start new journeys. As you know there are journeys we choose and journeys that choose us.

So with that in mind, we took a real good look at the people we work with in career transition and found that the most successful ones had three consistent behaviors. Those three behaviors were passion, attitude and confidence.

Passion is one's intense desire or enthusiasm to do something. The level of passion for these successful individuals kept them on track even when there were challenges and bumps in the road. They did not roll over or quit when things got tough.

Attitude is how an individual's behavior reacts to a person place or thing. We live in a world where most individuals focus on the negative side of a challenge. Successful individuals took a more positive look at the challenge of career transition and focused in on the benefits that would result from this journey.

Confidence is one's assessment and feelings about their own skills and qualities. These successful individuals realized that they live in a deposit/withdrawal system. Unfortunately, withdrawals are automatic and deposits have to be made manually. They have learned how to make necessary deposits.

So as you begin your journeys in this new year remember to pack the right amount of passion, attitude and confidence. Because a good start usually means a good finish.

Here's to your success,


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I constantly hear the statement that nothing happens between Thanksgiving and New Year's day. That idea becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that can prevent you from moving forward in the new year.

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's day is what I referred to as Relationship/Gratitude month.

It is the perfect time to build and solidify relationships by giving thanks to those that have helped you in the past year as well as those that will help you in the new year. This show of gratitude, when done without an agenda and with great sincerity, will strengthen business partnerships that can carry you into the new year and beyond.

As you all know, the opposite of gratitude is ingratitude. When you don't express gratitude and you assume the other person understands your perspective, what you really are expressing and certainly not intending to, is ingratitude.

Call up those people that have given you so much over the past six months to a year and just say thank you. Use the holiday season to send out cards to those you don't call. Individualize each card with a note and your own signature. Make your audience feel special. Remember, this is about quality not quantity.

If done correctly, these efforts in December will pay rich dividends in the first quarter of 2016.

Here's to a prosperous new year!


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Twenty-seven years in this business and I'm still amazed at what people will say or do. The sad situation is that many times, these unintentional faux pas are the things that result in slowing down or ending a promising career. We all need to take communication seriously and build in filters through practice to minimize communication gaps.

Two key causes of communication gaps:
Our emotions and lack of awareness

Simple examples:

In an interview you are asked why are you no longer with your former company. Your response is, "I resigned." Do you believe that people are going to think this was a positive event or a negative one? You just created an information gap.

You're the CEO of a company and every time you leave your office to go to the lunch room you are in deep thought. You never acknowledge anybody along the way, you're just focused on your thoughts. What do you think the perception will be from those around you who experience this? You just created an information gap.

An information gap can be created by what we say, what we don't say, what we do and what we don't do.

It is unfortunately human nature to fill a gap with negative information. Real control is achieved when we're able to say things and act in a way that insures to the highest degree that the message we are sending is received as we want it to be received.

Best tactics to diminish information gaps:

  • Increase your awareness of how your actions and statements could affect others
  • Refrain from any kind of emotional response
  • Practice softening your verbiage
  • If you're not sure about what you are going to say bounce it off of a confidant
  • Learn to recognize these gaps when you create them and close them immediately

Your words are powerful and they can hurt deeply as well as distort your real meaning. Learning to filter will allow you to say even the most challenging statements appropriately and still deliver your message.

For your career success learn to BRIDGE THE GAP!

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Fast Track Success Through
Strategic Alignment

There are many important components to a successful onboarding program but the key starting point is alignment with your immediate supervisor. If alignment is not properly established from the beginning, the train will derail sooner or later.

The best way to achieve the expectations of your new supervisor is to know what he or she wants from you. I recommend scheduling a strategic alignment meeting with your immediate supervisor prior to, or immediately upon starting your new position.

Use these key components for a successful meeting:

  • Be prepared: Organize your thoughts.
  • Begin with an attempt to engage the other individual in what sets a positive tone.
  • Try to learn as much about him or her as you can. Ask questions to find out what they are passionate about both in and outside of the workplace.
  • Seek to understand before being understood.
  • Discuss desired outcomes, achievements, and expectations based on your prior conversations with your new supervisor as well as others in the organization.
  • Be ready to respond with your thoughts on items such as projects that need to be achieved within designated time frames.
  • Clarify expectations/achievements/outcomes over the next 3 to 6 months.
  • Do not make assumptions: Ask intelligent questions until you have a clear understanding of those expectations/achievements/outcomes.
  • After your meeting, ask yourself, "How closely do these expectations align my own thoughts?"
  • Keep in mind the concept, "under promise over deliver."

An important topic to discuss is how your supervisor would like you to push back if you are in disagreement with them. Clarifying how to handle conflict is an important preventative discussion to avoid future issues that can erode your relationship.

Finalizing this alignment of expectations achievement and outcomes may go beyond this first meeting. This is key, especially if the expectations are unrealistic or not remotely close to what you thought they would be.

A strategic alignment meeting with your supervisor is worth the time and effort. It ensures that both of you are on the same page, establishes a good communication pattern, and allows you a safe path to pushback.

A good start creates a solid foundation to build on going forward.

Here's to your success,


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Build Key Relationships

As leaders progress up the executive ladder, their ability to build effective relationships becomes much more important to their success.

There is a delicate balance to be struck between being viewed as successful based on your experience as well as your ability to connect with people. When this becomes unbalanced on either side of the equation, the results can be very negative.

To build relationships with depth, start with sincerity and a genuine interest in people. Since most executives have limited time, it is important to identify the individuals where these solid relationships are important. For executives, I refer to this as their "stakeholder list". This could be anyone who will have great influence on the success or failure of the executive.

To Increase a relationship with another individual, consciously move it along that corridor from stranger toward friend. I'm not saying you have to reach the ultimate goal of friendship but you do have to keep moving the relationship forward.

When you move the relationship forward you affect what I call "the filter". The filter is how that person sees you. When there is a relationship on some level, that filter tends to be very positive. What does that mean to you? The other individual tends to let in only things that support that favorable impression. On the flipside, if that filter is negative, it tends to only let in negative information. A simple analogy could be the following: Who would you fire first: a stranger or a friend? Who would you hire first: a stranger or friend?

Some useful tactics to enhance relationships:

  • Sincerity
  • Be a listener with enthusiasm
  • Find connecting points – common interests, experiences, etc
  • Find their passion – what are the things that excite and motivate them?
  • Consistency- keep a predictable tempo to the relationship
  • Caring
  • See the world from their perspective
  • Find ways to help
  • Be proactive about the relationship

To be successful, work to strengthen key stakeholder relationships.

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Are you creating and executing a roadmap that will assist you in moving up within your organization?

The whole concept of internal transition or advancement for executives I find is often neglected. Like overall career planning, without a roadmap, executives have no rudder or direction in mind.

As a result of having no real advancement direction or plan, these are the most prevalent outcomes:

  • Career growth in their current company is slow to nonexistent
  • They leave the organization too early and possibly create a negative ongoing pattern predictable change

Neglected areas are often:

  • No plan for growth within the organization
  • No key stakeholder list
  • Lack of appropriate self-promotion
  • Poor outcomes alignment with immediate boss
  • Weak political acumen
  • Ineffective soft skills
  • No clear vision and strategy
  • Lack of developing a strong team

These are certainly not all of the issues but key ones I often see. Setting a roadmap, following the path and focusing on the key areas needed for your success will help you reach your end goal. That next stop on the career path may be within your existing organization or you will be well positioned for that next opportunity outside the organization.

What is that old saying?

What is that old saying? "If you don’t know where you are going you will never get there."

Enjoy the drive!


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As the health care system confronts the need to change and adapt in the new era, leadership is required throughout the entire organization.

Nursing Leaders are the centerpiece of care delivery and are extraordinarily vital and influential in carrying out the mission and vision of any healthcare organization. As a result, their leadership has a direct effect on the quality and fiscal outcomes that are of vital importance to an organization.

At Wiederhold & Associates, we know an organization can optimally increase a nursing leaders’ capacity for successful outcomes through professional Nursing Leadership Coaching. It is the single most powerful way for a leader to achieve their potential for superior leadership, strategic thinking, and measurable results.

Coaching is customized to every situation and organization, with outcomes driven models implemented to ensure success.

Who can benefit?

  • Senior Nursing Executives
  • Nursing Directors and Managers
  • Newly hired Nursing Executives who wish to position themselves out of the gate for great success
  • High potential Nurse Executives who can benefit from expanding their strategic thinking
  • Nurse Executives who want to continue to provide optimal leadership for the patients and the people who care for them

Nursing Leadership Teams

Team Coaching is different from training in that it specifically targets the needs of a group, while providing direction to challenge them to meet a targeted outcome. Teams that can benefit from our approach include:

  • High functioning teams wishing to expand their capacities
  • Teams experiencing significant changes or challenges
  • Newly formed Nursing Leadership Teams

Want to move your organization forward?

Invest in your core: Nursing Leadership.

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The majority of us plan for our children’s college education, or to get married or stay single but unfortunately very few executives plan their careers. Many potentially successful executives fail to climb the executive ladder because they don’t plan where they want their career to advance to.

Healthcare professionals can progress in their careers, but only if they position themselves for success.

In my experience, less than 5% of healthcare executives plan their career. Most, as I would say, “wing it”; taking advantage of opportunities as they present.

I describe career planning like building a straight fence. You define where you want to go and then identify the points and steps it takes to get there.

Successful executives complete a gap analysis: what are they missing for experience and skills. Skills fall in two categories: hard skills and soft skills. Executives often focus on the hard skills areas and miss the needs for developing soft skills: communications, conflict management, effective messaging, emotional intelligence, relationship building etc.

Through my work with executives in transition, 95% of people in transition lost their job due to a lack of emphasis and engagement in the soft skills.

Preparing to climb the ladder requires a plan that includes the skills both hard and soft to be successful. Successful executives must master emotional intelligence and navigating the political landscape to stay at the top of that ladder.

Here’s to your success!


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When you think of an --Effective Leader-- what comes to mind?

You might picture someone who never lets their temper get out of control, no matter what problems they are facing. Or you might think of someone who has the complete trust of their staff, listens to their team, is easy to talk tThese are qualities of someone with a high degree of emotional intelligence (EQ). Research shows that EQ scores climb with titles from the bottom of the corporate ladder upward toward middle management. Middle managers stand out with the highest EQ scores in the workplace because companies tend to promote people into these positions who are level-headed and good with people. The assumption here is that a manager with a high EQ is someone for whom people will want to work, and always makes careful, informed decisions.

These are qualities of someone with a high degree of emotional intelligence (EQ). Research shows that EQ scores climb with titles from the bottom of the corporate ladder upward toward middle management. Middle managers stand out with the highest EQ scores in the workplace because companies tend to promote people into these positions who are level-headed and good with people. The assumption here is that a manager with a high EQ is someone for whom people will want to work.

But things change drastically as you move beyond middle management. For the titles of director and above, scores descend with CEOs, on average, having the lowest EQ scores in the workplace.

The truth is that for every title the top performers are those with the highest EQ scores. Even though CEOs have the lowest EQ scores in the workplace, the best-performing CEOs are those with the highest EQs. You might get promoted with a low EQ, but you won't outshine your high-EQ competition in your new role.

Your emotional intelligence is completely under your control. Work on your EQ and it will boost your performance. Your effort can also ensure that you don't experience declines as you climb the corporate ladder. Even if your employer promotes you for the wrong reasons, you'll still outperform your contemporaries.

To help you get started, here are some EQ-boosting strategies for leaders:

  • Acknowledge Other People's Feelings
  • When You Care, Show it
  • Keep Your Emotions in Check
  • Sleep
  • Remove Negative Self-Talk

Focus on your EQ and your executive performance will soar!

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For years now, turnover rates for CEOs in the healthcare industry have been high. While they peaked at 20 percent in 2013, even today these rates remain decisively higher than in other industries. In the ever-evolving world of healthcare, it can be challenging for CEOs to plan for their departure. Even something as simple as deciding when to break the news to their team can involve endless considerations.

The plight of healthcare CEOs is unique in this regard. In many other prominent industries, it’s common for CEOs to give notice of their departure just weeks or even days in advance. On June 11 of this year, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo made an announcement that he would be stepping down on the first of July. In some industries, the announcement of departure may even take place after the CEO has already stepped down and a successor has been selected.

For CEOs in the healthcare industry, their departures are rarely that simple. While crafting a succession plan is crucial for all outgoing CEOs, sometimes just picking a date to make the announcement can be difficult.

Robin Singleton serves as the executive vice president and practice leader of National Healthcare Practice at DHR International. Singleton says if a departure announcement is made too early, the CEO might simply be fired. On the other hand, if they announce their departure too late, the board will not have adequate time to ensure a smooth transition.

According to Singleton, the average announcement of a CEOs departure in the healthcare industry comes between 9 and 12 months ahead of time. Paul Esselmen, senior executive vice president and managing director at Cejka Search, says that the transition time depends on the circumstances under which the CEO is leaving. At a minimum, Esselmen says that a CEO should provide 60 days’ notice to both their board and the executive team.

Singleton says that CEOs give their boards such advanced notice due to the culture in the healthcare industry. “They have a deep sense of commitment ultimately to their patients and they want to make sure their culture is protected,” says Singleton. For more information, visit:

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Tagged in: healthcare industry

Are You Ready to Embrace the Possibilities?

Coaching comes in many forms but the goal is to help you become the very best version of yourself as a leader, executive, and whole person. Executive coaching is like a blend of therapy, strategic discussion, and athletic training.

The focus is on your advancement as you define it, a definition that usually evolves over time. It is important to find a coach with experience working within your industry and the vision to help you realize your evolving personal goals.

What does Executive Coaching aim to accomplish?

Coaches facilitate a process of change or development which enables individuals and organizations to realize their potential.

If you're considering coaching, here are several key benefits:

  • Better Performance - greater productivity, career advancement, business results
  • New insights - about yourself, how you're perceived, where you can improve
  • Accelerated action - advancing faster and with greater precision
  • A safe place to dialogue- talk through challenges and gain perspective
  • Greater Awareness -of perspectives, beliefs, and attitudes that may be limiting your success
  • Support and encouragement - it feels less lonely at the top
  • Feedback that others won’t share
  • Help with improving specific skills - communication, delegation, conflict management, team building, persuasion, etc

Effective coaching requires someone to have a desire to learn and grow.

If you're the type of person who wants to grow and improve, and is willing to trust someone to support you, I highly recommend working with a coach.

Ready to get started?

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Compensation comprises everything from salaries to bonuses to stock options and it’s a subject with many perspectives in the healthcare industry. An Executive Compensation Survey in 2014 sought those divided opinions from over 400 respondents and the results were quite revealing. The survey results were published by HealthLeaders Media Intelligence in a report titled “Reforming Executive Compensation to Accelerate Change.”

A total of only 18 percent of those surveyed said no enhancements were necessary in their executive compensation structure and a mere 7 percent said that their organization’s executive compensation was aligned ideally with their organization’s strategies. In contrast, 82 percent admitted that either minor or even major enhancements were needed. Ultimately, in order to meet the needs of the healthcare industry today, more than a third of those surveyed said that changes are needed in executive compensation strategies.

Nearly a third of respondents said that, while changes were needed, there was no plan yet in their compensation strategy to address evolving patient care objectives in the industry. Additionally, a sizable minority of those surveyed said that they did not expect their organization to modify their team incentives in preparation for the shift from free-for-service to value-based purchasing.

Looking at the executives themselves proved interesting as well. In the case of organizations with medium to higher levels of net patient revenue, a majority of executives received a greater portion of team-based incentives. Additionally, 43 percent of executives surveyed admitted that their organization had not taken steps to match incentives with values such as clinical outcomes.

Operating margins played a role in compensation also. Nearly half of all those surveyed said that operating margin targets formed the very basis of their individual incentive payments. To learn more, you can download a complimentary version of the report here:
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Today, the concept of population health is more important in the healthcare industry than ever before. It has played a large role in many healthcare trends from payer-provider collaboration to hospital-community partnerships. Yet it remains a somewhat subjective term with many different views and interpretations.

The term “population health” first originated in 2003 with David Kindig and Greg Stoddart. They described it as “the health outcome of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.” Yet many criticize this definition for being incomplete, saying it focuses only on outcomes and not on the actual healthcare providers that directly influence those outcomes. In a recent survey of healthcare leaders, only two out the 37 surveyed cited the 2003 definition. The prevailing opinion is that this definition itself is in need of an update.

A large number of healthcare leaders saw population health primarily as “an opportunity for healthcare systems, agencies, and organizations to work together in order to improve the health outcomes of the communities they serve.” Other survey participants like Dr. Richard L. Gilfillan, president and CEO of Trinity Health in Michigan, cited the Triple Aim Initiative. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement developed the Triple Aim initiative, which includes improved care, improved outcomes, and reduced costs. Many of the other healthcare leaders who participated in the survey saw the discussion on population health as an opportunity for healthcare systems and agencies to collaborate to improve health outcomes for the populations that they care for.

While there may not yet be a comprehensive, universal definition of population health, the discussion itself shows that the attitudes of care providers are constantly evolving as they work to make the health of their patients a top priority. For more information, visit the resources below:

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Tagged in: healthcare industry

The first few weeks and months of an executive’s tenure are critical. Getting it right can dramatically accelerate the transformation of a new recruit or promotion into a fully functioning business leader. But getting it wrong can be very costly.

In fact, recent studies indicate that 30-50% of newly hired leaders fail and leave within 18 months. Failure to establish key relationships and failure to align with company culture are indicated as leading factors that derail new executives early in their leadership roles.

Organizations that spend thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in efforts to recruit key talent, recognize the critical importance of ensuring cultural fit as part of the hiring process. But often, the rigor, focus and attention given to the recruiting process don’t seem to carry forward to a solid commitment to assimilate and positively onboard new executives.

Executive onboarding is far too important to leave to chance. The stakes are high for the individuals and the corporations involved. The impact on revenues, employee morale and the company’s corporate image when an executive fails in a newly-assigned role are felt by the organization long after the executive has departed.

Onboarding, not orientation.

Onboarding is not the same as orientation. Consider whether your organization’s internal process achieves the following:

  • Identifies executives’ strengths and developmental areas, and ensures they have the key competencies for success
  • Brings role clarity
  • Accelerates integration with organizational culture, strategy, and leadership team
  • Maps key relationships
  • Delivers critically timed feedback from key stakeholders
  • Offers counsel on goal identification
  • Provides early warning indicators and hazard avoidance

The Solution for Success

Our Onboarding services pick up where the executive search process ends, and help organizations integrate new executives in a more structured and effective way. Focusing on the early stages of an executive’s tenure, we reduce the time it takes for new executives to start making a meaningful impact, and maximize the leader's personal engagement with the organization and culture. We believe in customizing our program to our clients needs and work with new hires and internal promotions.

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Becker’s Hospital Review recently published a comprehensive roundup of statistics related to rising healthcare costs. This week’s blog looks at some of the key takeaways.

With each passing year, healthcare spending in the United States has continued to rise and 2015 will be no exception. To fully understand these rising costs, we must understand where the money is being spent as well as how much we are actually spending.

In examining costs in the healthcare system, it’s important to appreciate the occasionally confusing distinction between cost in comparison to charges and payments. A hospital’s charges are simply list prices for the medical services they offer. Such “charges” are merely the point where insurers begin to negotiate discounts for their members. Actual payment depends largely upon one’s healthcare plan. For instance, the payment rates set by Medicare are typically less than the actual cost of care. Hospitals themselves must also consider input costs, which consist of everything from the salary of clinicians to the cost of buildings and equipment.

The cost of hospital services themselves has been increasing. In 2000, expenditures on hospital services totaled over $400 billion. By 2013, that number had gone well over $900 billion. Between 2011 and 2013 alone, the prices hospitals set for common procedures increased by more than 10 percent.

Recent statistics from Kaiser State Health Facts showed that the average day’s stay at a state or local government hospital in 2013 cost $1,878; that price wasn’t far off from the average stay at for-profit hospitals, which totaled $1,791. In looking at for-profit hospitals in different states around the nation, North Dakota had the highest cost per day at $3,714 and Maine had the lowest cost per day at $815.

While healthcare spending today is certainly increasing, it’s worth noting that it is increasing at a lower rate now than in past years. Some of the lowest premium increases for employers and their workers were seen in 2013. Generally speaking, a wide variety of factors contribute to the diminished increase in overall costs, from sequestration to a historically weak economic recovery. Many predict that the situation is only temporary though. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) project that, between 2015 and 2023, healthcare spending will grow 6 percent annually.

Out-of-pocket healthcare costs consist of both premiums and deductibles. In 2013 alone, Americans spent $339.4 billion on out-of-pocket costs. Between 2000 and 2013, these costs saw a 68 percent increase.

This year saw a steep increase in the price of prescription drugs with a 13.6 percent jump in costs. In contrast, the average annual increase over the last five years was only 6.8 percent. All in all, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that between 2000 and 2013, health expenditures increased on prescription drugs by more than 123 percent.

Finally, the “Cadillac tax” is also expected to influence employer healthcare costs. It consists of a 40 percent excise tax on certain costly plans that employers provide for their workers. Ultimately, the tax is meant to reduce healthcare costs and, if current employers do nothing to change their health plans, about one third of them will incur this tax by 2018 according to a recent survey.

For the comprehensive roundup of healthcare cost statistics, visit: http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/50-things-to-know-about-healthcare-costs.html
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Tagged in: healthcare industry
For Dr. Loren Hamel and Dr. Benjamin Chu, the key to innovation within the healthcare industry lies with people. Dr. Hamel serves as CEO of Lakeland Health, an organization responsible for numerous hospitals, practices, and clinics across Southwestern Michigan. Dr. Chu serves as executive vice president of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and president of Kaiser Permanente Southern California. Both men have demonstrated their ability to make big changes by taking a closer look at the people in their systems. In their eyes, focusing on the experiences of patients and caregivers alike is crucial to innovating in an evolving healthcare industry.

Dr. Hamel recently faced a daunting task in addressing the mediocre patient satisfaction scores at Lakeland Health, stuck between the 25th and 50th percentile. Yet his ultimate solution would take those scores to the 95th percentile a mere 90 days after his new ideas were implemented. This was achieved through a “Bring Your Heart to Work” campaign, which succeeded with little to no additional financial resources and a lot of help from Lakeland Health’s employees.

Dr. Hamel asked staff and caregivers to take an emotional interest in the experience of their patients. He described the process saying, “Every time you interact with a patient, tell them who you are, what you’re there to do, and then share a heartfelt why.” The “why” was designed to make the patient’s fears and hopes a top priority for the employees interacting with them. Not only did patient satisfaction skyrocket but many in the work environment also became less tolerant of coworkers with rude or impolite attitudes.

At Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Chu, much like Dr. Hamel, had to consider how performance data offered a window into the affairs of his organization. Kaiser Permanente launched a system called POINT, or Permanente Online Interactive Network, to offer providers a closer look at performance data for physicians. Dr. Chu describes transparency of performance as crucial, particularly for physicians.

Dr. Chu also sought to decentralize Kaiser’s healthcare campus, even rebuilding several medical offices. First, they sought the opinions of their members before looking to administrators, physicians and nurses to seek their opinions on changes that could be made. Talking about these reforms, Dr. Chu said, “If you take the time to really think about a framework that taps into the hearts and minds of the frontline people, you can really accelerate transformation in a big way.”

While technology played a key role for both Dr. Hamel and Dr. Chu in understanding their organizations, it was their focus on people that ultimately yielded innovation. This was a focus on patients, members, staff, caregivers, and even administrators, which helped to create something new and better than what had existed before. For more information visit:


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Tagged in: healthcare industry

Early in my 30 year career in executive recruitment and coaching, I was responsible for recruiting and training sales executives at NCH Corporation. I find my background in sales training to be extremely helpful as I work with executives in transition.

When I was in my sales position with NCH corporation, I learned several key things:

  • We had clear plans and targets for sales and we didn’t go home until those were met. We had the tenacity to reach out and make contacts and have clear goals to achieve.
  • People buy from people they like. The primary focus is to build relationships with clients as part of the sales cycle.
  • Practice is essential and role playing is a key part of training.

Executives in transition are shifting from leading and operating organizations to selling a commodity, themselves. A successful transition, like a successful sale takes focus, energy, a clear plan, and intentional action. You have to know your product, have a clear brand, a value statement, know your market, identify your sales targets, and be confident in representing your product.

I find most executives have no formal background or training in sales and often feel very unprepared for the demands of a successful job transition and search. My role is to be a coach and guide, to help executives in transition find their rudder, set their course and make a successful journey.

Executives successful in transition are the ones who use the time in transition to learn more about themselves and their goals for the future. Creating the right attitude and exuding confidence is a key to mastering your transition and achieving your goals.

In my practice I primarily work with healthcare executives. So I know the market, the role demands, and the key tools required to be successful. I not only provide my clients the tools, I provide the coaching and support for clients to learn through their journey and find a successful path forward.

I’m proud of the many executives I have helped through my 30 years and find the wisdom and experience to be a valued commodity for my clients.

Here’s to your success!


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Hospitals & Health Networks (H&HN), a publication of the American Hospital Association (AHA), featured an article this month on the traits needed to be a successful CEO in today’s environment. This week, in the second part of a two-part blog post, we’ll look at some of the new challenges and the new skills needed for success.

The ideal CEO must be data-driven. Paul H. Keckley, managing director for Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis, says that hospital performance data is now available to both buyers and patients alike. Today, more and more insurers are using these commercially available analytics, so it is important for CEOs to be familiar with such data also.

CEOs must be motivated to take action as well. Peter Rabinowitz, executive recruiter and president of P.A.R. Associates Inc., says that when a board wants to rationalize the organization, a CEO may be tasked not only with building the organization up but also taking people out when needed. While a changing healthcare environment sometimes means layoffs, there are other times when employees can simply adapt to new roles. For instance, Scripps Health in San Diego underwent complete operations reorganization and saved hundreds of millions in costs, all without a single layoff.

Clinical competence is another quality CEOs must aspire to. Boards will frequently look to physicians as ideal CEOs, but this might very well be a mistake according to Phil Dalton, senior vice president of physician strategies at VHA Inc. “They [physicians] are highly intelligent and talented, but their experience is generally not in running organizations,” says Dalton. Michael Rowan, president for health systems delivery and COO at Catholic Health Initiatives, says that nurses are often far more likely to have the management background to take on such a leadership role.

Financial focus is another especially important skill in light of the realities of declining Medicare payments and the recent requirements of the Affordable Care Act. “It means having to think about efficiency across the entire spectrum of care,” says Carol Geffner.

Geffner also pointed out the importance of matrix management. Traditionally, hospitals are vertically organized into departments: radiology, cardiology, etc. However, now that hospitals are changing, Geffner says that horizontal structures are being created as well. “Now that hospitals are becoming health systems, they have to have not only these vertical structures, they are creating horizontal structures,” Geffner says.

Resolving conflict is another vital skill, since change is constantly afoot in healthcare. Leonard J. Marcus, founding director of the program for Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, says that two steps are needed to change conflict to consensus. First, he says fears must be acknowledged and addressed as they crop up. Secondly, he says that it is important to find ways in which the organization can meet everyone’s common interests in some form or another.

Agile learning is another skill that all CEOs must have and it might very well be the most important skill. At Korn Ferry, the world’s largest executive search firm, learning agility is actually considered the leading predictor of success in leadership.

Finally, strategic vision is critical. While innovation and creativity ranked very highly, strategic planning and critical thinking were listed as the top skills needed to lead in the world of health systems in the coming years.

To learn more, visit the AHA’s online publication, Hospitals & Health Networks: http://www.hhnmag.com/Magazine/2015/June/cover-new-health-care-CEO
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