The Harvard Business Review published a blog last week titled, “Nine Habits That Lead to Terrible Decisions.” The authors conducted a study to determine the factors that contribute to poor decisions. After analyzing data from 50,000 leaders, they found nine factors that can contribute to a bad decision.

Their analysis compared leaders who were “perceived to be making poor decisions” with leaders who were “perceived to be making very good decisions.” The list below is prioritized in order, starting with the most significant factor:

1) Laziness – regardless of the “perception versus reality” factor, these leaders were perceived to be sloppy in their work and unwilling to work hard.

2) Not anticipating unexpected events – it’s critical to develop a list of the problems that may arise from your decision.

3) Indecisiveness – when analysis takes too long, decisions get delayed and opportunities are missed; some leaders believe that a single mistake will ruin their careers, and as a result, they avoid prudent risk-taking.

4) Remaining locked in the past – it’s important to be innovative, and that requires looking for new approaches to solving problems.

5) Having no strategic alignment – every key decision must be part of an overarching strategy.

6) Over-dependence – if collaborative decision making gets bogged down, then act independently.

7) Isolation – it’s critical to collect input from experts, which requires good networking skills.

8) Lack of technical depth – complexity is increasing, and the best executives develop deep expertise, and they know how to find the right talent to help them.

9) Failure to communicate – sometimes good decisions lead to bad results merely due to poor communication about the decision itself, including why the decision was made and how it benefits the organization.

By keeping these factors in mind, you can improve your approach to executive decision making. To learn more, visit the Harvard Business Review blog at: http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/09/9-habits-that-lead-to-terrible-decisions/
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In an article published last month, Billian’s HealthDATA noted a 37% increase in executive moves during the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. These moves included CEOs, COOs, CFOs, CMOs, CNOs, VPs and Director-level positions.

To help determine how hospitals fill their new CXO slots, Billian’s teamed up with Porter Research to analyze trends found in a sample of 384 executive changes. Some of their findings include the following:

● 60% of hospital placements involved hiring an outside candidate
● 58% of new CEO hires were “stolen” from other hospitals
● 27% of new COO hires were “stolen” from other hospitals
● 44% of internal CEO promotions came from the COO position
● 17% of new COO positions were promotions from the CNO position

Also available at Billian’s website are a series of “Top 10” lists that you’ll find informative, such as:

● Largest hospital acquisitions ranked by bed size
● Top physician groups by number of MDs
● Top hospitals by net patient revenue

To learn more, visit the web resources linked below:

Hospital Hiring Trends:

Top 10 Lists:
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Financial pressures continue to take their toll on rural hospitals. Many of these small facilities are working to develop and implement strategies to stay viable, however their situations are challenging, to say the least.

Here’s a roundup of recent activities occurring in several states, but these developments are representative of what is occurring in many communities across the country.

In Georgia, a “Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee” was created by Governor Nathan Deal in March to facilitate communications between hospitals and the state. The committee met earlier this week to evaluate how “free-standing emergency room models” could work in rural hospitals.

In Alabama, six rural facilities have closed in the previous 18 months, but 22 are experiencing serious financial pressures. In Tennessee, at least 28 hospitals are facing significant budget cuts or outright closures, such as Haywood Park Community Hospital, which stopped providing inpatient services July 31.

In Arkansas, Crittenden Regional Hospital in West Memphis announced it is closing September 7, and the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System recently announced it is closing its facility in Gilmer at the end of this year.

In South Carolina, where average occupancy rates are at 60 percent, some rural facilities are reporting rates under 10 percent. One S.C. facility with 59 beds, Wallace Thomson Hospital in Union County, operated for several years at less than 25 percent capacity. After adding over $20 million in debt to its balance sheet, it recently filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

The “Post and Courier” newspaper in South Carolina recently reported that the state legislature has approved some funding to help hospitals “transition from business models based on filling beds to other models less reliant on inpatient services.” Other financial assistance is available through CMS, which recently extended its program to increase payments to hospitals with low Medicare inpatient volumes.

For more information on the state of rural hospitals, visit: http://www.fiercehealthfinance.com/story/rural-hospitals-struggle-keep-doors-open/2014-08-26
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Becker’s Hospital Review recently asked 14 healthcare CEO’s to describe the most important aspect of their job. Some of their responses may surprise you.

Annette Cantino, CEO of a commercial insurer in New Jersey, replied, “Early on, it was clear to me that if I was going to build a successful business, it was going to be about building relationships. I figured out that relationships were built in business on the golf course, and that’s when golf started becoming such an important part of my culture, even though I had never golfed before.”

Here are excerpts from some of the other responses:

● Place top performers in the right positions to manage day-to-day operations.

● Develop strong leadership and culture in their organization.

● Create a future destination for your organization.

● Foster and support our team's culture.

● Lead by example.

● Listen.

● Nurture an innovative environment.

● Emotionally engage each and every member of the team.

● Assemble an outstanding team and then get out of their way.

To view the article, visit Becker’s Hospital Review at: http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/leadership-management/the-most-important-thing-a-ceo-does.html
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Last week the American Hospital Association published an article about smart strategies to reduce costs. The article also includes a link to a 16-page report from Booz/PwC titled, “Health System Fitness: A Proven Approach to Transformational Cost Reduction.”

Five cost-cutting strategies discussed in the article are:

1. Team Up with Physicians – 80% of doctors say it’s possible to reduce costs without compromising clinical quality, although less than 20% of MDs say they have enough insight into their own costs per case.

2. Improve Efficiency of Clinical Utilization – Inefficient utilization involves inappropriate care or care that’s a mismatch for different types of medical staff; inefficient workflows and scheduling; the use of inconsistent treatment protocols; unnecessary variation in vendors and the supplies they provide; and unnecessary use of high-cost drugs.

3. Reduce Overhead – Consider centralizing activities involving human resources, marketing, finance and purchasing; consider outsourcing functions for HR, IT, finance, food services, labs and pharmacies; and investigate how automation can be used to streamline processes.

4. Organize Resources to Create Competitive Differentiators – Analyze the populations you want to serve and structure your services accordingly; consider offering services that complement (instead of compete with) other local facilities.

5. Implement Fundamental Changes – Consider collaborating with other facilities in the area; in a multi-facility network, develop a unified strategy that eliminates overlap.

Lastly, the authors advise executives not to overlook other opportunities to reduce costs, including in supply chain management, portfolio rationalization, new payment models and revised incentive structures.

The AHA article is available at: http://www.hhnmag.com/display/HHN-news-article.dhtml?dcrPath=/templatedata/HF_Common/NewsArticle/data/HHN/Daily/2014/Aug/080714-kaul-clinicalutilization
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Last week the American Hospital Association released a report (link below) on the variety of approaches being taken by hospitals and health plans regarding price transparency. The report also includes a high-level analysis of related government initiatives at the state and federal levels.

Price transparency across the nation is a patchwork of activity. Currently, 35 states are requiring hospitals to release data on some of their charges. Seven states are saying the release of this data is only voluntary. It’s a fluid situation, so having a strategy in place to address these requirements is must for hospital executives involved in these areas.

At the federal level, CMS has released hospital-specific average charges and Medicare reimbursement rates (link below) for 100 of the most common inpatient procedures and 30 of the most common outpatient procedures since June 2013. The data shows the amounts that providers are billing for services, procedures and medical items.

At the local level, hospitals are implementing a variety of efforts aimed at achieving price transparency, but the tasks are complicated by contractual obligations that restrict hospitals from releasing rates negotiated with payers. As a result, these activities require expertly managed collaboration among all of the various stakeholder groups.

To learn more, visit the links below to access the AHA report and CMS charge data.

AHA Report: “Price Transparency Efforts Accelerate”

Charge Data Released by CMS:
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Hospitals are increasingly seeking out business relationships (alliances, partnerships) as a means to gain competitive advantages in the marketplace. It’s a trend that’s been growing, in part, because the Federal Trade Commission is beginning to take a closer look at how mergers and acquisitions are affecting competition and patient access to care. However, there are a variety of variables involved, including goals such as expanding clinical expertise and increasing quality.

For example, Tenet has formed an alliance with Yale New Haven to develop clinical networks; Tenet gets access to Yale’s clinical expertise and Yale gets access to Tenet’s large cash reserves. Also, a new “quality alliance” was announced last week by Kaiser Permanente and Johns Hopkins; Kaiser gets access to Johns Hopkins’ research capabilities and Johns Hopkins can tap into Kaiser’s vast database of population health statistics.

Other activities include joint ventures such as the recent agreement between Tenet and Dignity Health to take over operations of southern Arizona’s largest hospital system, Carondelet Health Network.

To learn more, see the article: “Hospital Mergers Are Out. ‘Strategic Alliances’ Are In. Is Obamacare Responsible?” published by California Healthline at http://www.californiahealthline.org/road-to-reform/2014/hospital-mergers-are-out-strategic-alliances-are-in-is-obamacare-responsible
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An article published last week by Becker’s Hospital Review discussed ten concerns and trends that can be viewed as opportunities and/or threats depending on the hospital’s size, market and other factors. The article is linked below; here’s a high-level summary:

1. Growth of High-Deductible Plans – Patients are looking for lower-cost healthcare options, including urgent care centers and other clinics.

2. Growth of Accountable Care Organizations – An analysis conducted during May identified 626 ACOs covering 20.5 million lives in the country; expect more ACOs led by hospitals and physicians for Medicare, Medicaid and commercial health plans.

3. Intensity of Rivalries – Competition for patients, doctors and payer contracts is intensifying, however, the intensity varies across geographic areas; rivalries are developing not only locally, but also nationally and sometimes even internationally.

4. Reduced Inpatient Procedures – The average inpatient procedure generates revenue that is 600% to 1,000% higher than outpatient procedures; declining numbers of inpatient procedures appear to be occurring across all service lines offered by hospitals.

5. Layoffs – Approximately 100 hospital layoffs have been noted so far this year by Becker’s Hospital Review.

6. Narrow Networks – To attract consumers by offering low premiums, some insurers are selling narrow-network policies through the ACA health insurance exchanges; hospitals in these narrow networks are at risk for decreased revenue due to lower payment rates, which is typically not the case in broader contracts; however, hospitals that avoid these narrow-network contracts are vulnerable to losing market share.

7. Shift to Population Health/Managed Care – Providers are increasingly embracing pay-for-performance models; a study published last month by McKesson found that 81% of hospitals and 90% of payers have signed on to or are currently offering complex reimbursement models that combine fee-for-service and other models.

8. Huge Growth in Health IT Spending – A survey of hospital executives completed this year by the research firm Premier found that almost half of the executives said their largest capital investment this year will be for health information technology.

9. Competition for Physicians – The nation’s aging population will contribute to a shortage of physicians in the US; one study shows a shortage of 130,600 physicians by 2025, and another study shows the need for specialists to care for the elderly will double between 2013 and 2025.

10. Staying Independent – Standalone hospitals with revenue under $300 million will face greater difficulties because of: a) their lack of clout with payers, b) the need to invest large sums in health information technology, and c) the shift to pay-for-performance.

For more details, see Becker’s Hospital Review at: http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/leadership-management/10-concerns-and-trends-facing-hospitals-right-now.html
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In a report published this month, McKinsey & Company provides key insights based on interviews conducted with thousands of patients on their perception of digital healthcare services. The interviewees formed a varied cross-section of different age groups and incomes, as well as varying levels of experience with the technology services that are increasingly an integral part of healthcare delivery.

Results of the survey (available at the link below) revealed some surprises in terms of how patients view the technology. The report also provides information about how hospitals and other healthcare providers can approach the implementation of digital services for patients. Key findings include:

(1) Over 75% of all patients would like to use digital healthcare services in the future if those services meet their needs.

(2) Patients in all age groups (not just young patients) expect to increase their use of digital services.

(3) The adoption of digital services by patients is primarily driven by patient awareness of the services and the quality of how the services are implemented.

(4) The demand for mobile healthcare apps is strongest among young people, especially apps geared toward younger demographics, for example, apps focused on prenatal health or “healthy lifestyle” choices.

(5) When introducing digital healthcare services, it’s important to understand: a) what patients really want, b) the best way to provide the digital services, and c) the value of starting small.

(6) When planning for digital services, segment your initiatives according to criteria such as: a) the amount of investment required, b) the estimated demand by patients, and c) the value created by the services.

The report makes a conclusion that the time is now ripe to take advantage of digital services in terms of capturing the attention of patients and building long-term value—however, the keys are to understand what patients really want and avoid the pitfalls of five prevalent myths, which are listed in the report.

To learn more, visit: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/health_systems_and_services/healthcares_digital_future
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According to an investment analysis published July 6 by The Motley Fool (link below), urgent care clinics are a rapidly growing profit center for hospitals. Not only are the clinics profitable, but they’re also a key source of future referrals to hospitals. Additionally, the analysis notes, “10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day and they’re going to need more care.”

In the past three years alone, HCA has spent more than $5.5 billion to open 200 new urgent care centers (stand-alone ERs, provider clinics and surgery centers). In an example of how HCA is implementing its strategy in the Nashville area, they’re operating 11 urgent care centers to complement their 10 hospitals and 40 provider locations. Additionally HCA is planning to spend over $2.0 billion this year on new growth projects, which include urgent care centers.

Other examples of hospitals getting into the business of stand-alone clinics include Dignity Health System, the fifth largest hospital operator in the nation. In 2012, Dignity acquired a chain of 172 clinics under the brand name “HealthWorks” and they now operate more than 200 clinics.

In May, Tenet Healthcare launched a branded chain of urgent care centers named “MedPost,” which currently includes 23 clinics in eight states; Tenet plans to double their number of clinics before the end of this year.

The report also notes that hospitals are under pressure from insurers to get into the business of stand-alone urgent care. Humana acquired 300 Concentra urgent care centers in 2010 and, as a result, the insurer can now offer its members a less expensive option than going to a hospital.

Humana’s entrance into the urgent care market also further blurs the line between payers and providers. From Humana’s point of view, their foray into clinics “transforms care from an expense that it has to pay into a profitable business.”

To learn more, see the article, “How Urgency Will Save Hospitals” at: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/07/06/how-urgency-will-save-hospitals.aspx
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A 12-page “Trendwatch” report published in June by the American Hospital Association (AHA) provides excellent guidance on how hospitals can adjust their operations to remain competitive in light of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The report (available at the link below) discusses the impact of the ACA on multiple variables:

1) Increasing coinsurance and deductibles will make consumers more price sensitive at the point of care

2) Consumers will demand cost information to guide decision-making

3) Providers will carry the burden of patient education at the point of care

4) Greater exposure to costs may lead to delayed or avoided care

5) Higher patient cost-sharing can increase bad debt

6) Hospitals may lose volume to lower-cost providers

7) More options leave consumers to balance multiple plan features in decision-making

The bottom-line takeaway from the report is that hospitals will have to implement new strategies to succeed in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace, where consumers are more actively engaged in the purchase of coverage and care-delivery services.

At the end of the report, the AHA provides five strategic questions for hospital executives, including options for how to answer/address those questions. This is a valuable report for all hospital executives and will help you provide proactive “thought leadership” throughout your organization.

The report is available for download at: http://www.aha.org/research/reports/tw/14june-tw-consumerchc.pdf
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This week Becker’s Hospital Review published an article about actions that hospital CEOs can take today to help ensure their future success:

1. Get involved – this could include joining a new local or national healthcare association, which will provide you with more exposure and additional networking opportunities.

2. Embrace change – keep an open mind, even when potential opportunities seem out of the ordinary.

3. Be visible – engage employees on a personal level; and for larger organizations, consider social media as a way to remain “visible” even when you’re not physically present.

4. Delegate – learn to trust your people; you need a team effort to be successful.

5. Have free time – be sure to schedule free time if needed, especially if you are in “continuous work mode.”

6. Read – never stop learning; use reading as a way to stay in touch with ongoing developments in the healthcare industry.

7. Make tough financial decisions – don’t be afraid to “step on political landmines” in order to control costs.

You can read the entire article at Becker’s Hospital Review by visiting: http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/leadership-management/7-things-ceos-can-do-today-to-advance-their-careers.html
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This week I’d like to bring to your attention another key resource for hospital executives. It’s a book that’s part of the ACHE Management Series, titled, “Leading a Hospital Turnaround: A Practical Guide.” Whether or not you may be currently involved in a turnaround situation, this book is an excellent resource that will also help you recognize the early warning signs of impending financial problems.

The author, Anthony K. Jones, has served as CEO of two health systems and COO of four large medical centers. He also has extensive experience improving the performance of hospitals in financial difficulties. To learn more about what this book has to offer, visit the ACHE website via the link below.

Also on the subject of turnarounds, Becker’s Hospital Review published a brief article this week about the traits of a successful “Hospital Turnaround CEO.” In the article, Raji Kumar, CEO of Dallas Medical Center, shared her thoughts on five key traits that helped her transform the hospital. When she accepted the CEO position in 2010, the medical center was losing approximately $2 million per month. Last year they reported a $5 million profit.

During the turnaround, Dallas Medical Center added service lines, including cardiovascular, spine, and gastroenterology, and they recruited nearly 100 physicians to join their staff. Here’s a brief summary of Ms. Kumar’s thoughts about leading a successful turnaround:

Have a Clear Vision – Establish a plan/roadmap for attaining the vision and then follow through to implement the plan.

Communicate Effectively – Use the plan/roadmap to engage employees, communicate the big picture, and inspire them to buy into the strategy.

Make Decisions – Avoid “analysis paralysis” and take prudent risks based on available information.

Recruit and Develop the Right Staff – Assess the need for changes in management when departments prove to be problematic.

Manage Resources Efficiently – Find ways to empower employees and inspire them to take ownership of problems.

For more information, visit these websites:

ACHE: https://www.ache.org/publications/Product.aspx?pc=2240

Becker’s Hospital Review:
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Following up on last week’s blog on key resources for hospital executives, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) offers valuable information on transformation and other improvement initiatives. Their website (link below) provides insight into topics that should be top-of-mind in today’s environment.

The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys are a case in point. The results of CAHPS surveys, which ask patients to report on and evaluate their experiences with providers, are in the public domain. The data is not only accessible to healthcare consumers but is also used by public and private purchasers of healthcare, regulators, quality monitors and community groups. Organizations and consumers will increasingly use the survey results to inform their decisions about healthcare services.

Other topics addressed include AHRQ Quality Indicators (QIs), which are metrics of hospital quality and safety derived from readily available hospital inpatient administrative data. Hospitals across the country use the QIs to track their performance over time as well as identify potential problems related to quality and safety.

Hospital construction is another key topic. Approximately $200 billion will be invested over the next ten years to build new hospitals. As noted by the agency, “the United States is embarking upon one of the largest hospital building booms in the nation's history… this new construction is being undertaken to replace aging hospitals, incorporate new technologies and medical practices, and respond to external market factors, including America's growing and aging population.”

To learn more, visit: http://www.ahrq.gov/index.html
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“Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence” is a key resource offered by the American Hospital Association. It’s a web-based platform that provides executives in the healthcare industry with comprehensive information about how to “accelerate performance improvement and support delivery system transformation in the nation's hospitals and health systems.”

At the website (link below) you can find information on hospital best practices, guides about evidence-based medicine, and briefings on national projects being undertaken to improve hospitals. In their Resource Library, you can sort through available materials by categories such as:

Care Coordination
Care Delivery Transformation
Operational Excellence
Patient Safety and Quality

Additionally, you can easily locate resources that pertain to your particular type of hospital, such as Children’s, Community, Critical Access, Health System, Public, Rural, Small, Teaching and Urban.

You can visit the Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence website at: http://www.hpoe.org/
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In a report released last month by the American Hospital Association, a survey of 1,100 healthcare executives revealed emerging “talent gaps” in hospital management. In the report, titled, “Building a Leadership Team for the Healthcare Organization of the Future,” the executives cited key gaps in their organization’s capabilities. Pinpointing the areas where more skills are needed:

54% said their management teams needed more experience leading nontraditional health partnerships, including strategic partnerships with payers and retailers

48% cited a need for greater talent in the areas of community and population health management

41% indicated a lack of experience in change management and transformational change

37% noted a deficit in advanced financial expertise

34% said their management staff lacked key skills in innovation and creativity

29% pointed to a shortfall in data analytics experience

In the AHA report (link below), healthcare organizations indicated they were actively working to close these talent gaps in a variety of ways. Many organizations said they planned to address these deficits “through the addition of new executive team positions to lead and galvanize support for initiatives in top strategic areas.” Evidence of this trend was noted in the report, which stated that “60 percent of survey respondents said the senior management team of their organization is larger today than it was three years ago.”

Other topics addressed in this informative report include:

Challenges to Achieving Strategic Priorities
New Leadership Roles, New Capabilities: The Emerging Health Care Organization
Traditional Roles Evolving
Broad Leadership Skills Needed
Overcoming Organizational Barriers
Building the Leadership Team for the Future Health Care Organization
Evaluating Board Composition

To learn more, the report can be accessed via the AHA website at: http://www.hpoe.org/Reports-HPOE/leadership-team-future-2014.pdf
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At its annual conference held May 15-17 in Chicago, Becker's Hospital Review sponsored a presentation by three healthcare executives on the key attributes of successful health systems. The panel was moderated by Chuck Lauer, previous publisher of Modern Healthcare.

During the discussion, four essential themes emerged as the leading attributes of great health systems:

1. Crystal clear visions and missions.
2. Engaged, energetic leaders who are comfortable with ambiguity.
3. Having a “wide lens” when defining who they serve.
4. Board members and executives who aren't hospital-centric.

On the topic of leadership, the panel pointed to the need for executives to perceive difficult challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation. Raising the issue of “old school” versus “new school” ways of approaching problems, Deborah Proctor, president and CEO of St. Joseph Health in Irvine, California, and chairperson of the Catholic Health Association, remarked that today’s leaders need to “live in ambiguity and live in it comfortably.”

For more information on the key points raised in this panel discussion, visit: http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/leadership-management/4-signs-of-great-health-systems.html
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Executives of hospitals and health systems need an effective strategy when moving from volume-based to value-based business models. To help you develop the right strategy for your organization, the American Hospital Association (AHA) has published an informative 40-page report (link below). In the report, five strategic approaches to transformation are described along with ten “guiding questions” to consider.

Last week at the AHA’s annual meeting in Washington DC, a key presentation featured panelists who discussed their different approaches to implementing value-based models. Executives from WellPoint, Billings Clinic, and Presbyterian Healthcare Services in New Mexico shared their strategies.

The three facets of the presentation showed how each organization took a different path to success: CareMore, a division within WellPoint, developed greater specialization in a market niche; Glendive Medical Center, a previously independent facility in Montana, chose to affiliate with Billings; and Presbyterian of New Mexico redefined its operations by starting a health plan that covers 435,000 members and includes 600 healthcare providers.

Jason Barker, President at CareMore, discussed solidifying its position in a niche market by focusing entirely on caring for patients who are older and frailer. Their keys to success involved accuracy in predictive modeling and earlier interventions with patients.

Scott Duke, VP of regional operations at Billings and former CEO of Glendive, talked about affiliations and emphasized several key factors when evaluating a partnership: alignment of missions, values and care models; strategic planning that involves extensive research; and consistent communications with stakeholders.

Jim Hinton, President and CEO of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, cited several critical success factors for health systems and care coordination programs: effective collaboration among all entities; aligned financial incentives; rapid cycle improvements; and clinical leadership.

You can access the AHA report on moving toward value-based models in the “Resources” section at: http://www.aha.org/research/cor/paths/index.shtml
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Last week Texas Health Resources set a good example of how to use strategic communications as a means to differentiate itself within the environment of healthcare reform. Texas Health Resources is a not-for-profit health system comprised of 26 hospitals, 58 outpatient facilities, and 560 MDs in a physicians group.

In an April 30 press release titled “Texas Health Advances Transparency and Accountability with Public Quality and Safety Report,” the health system released a series of reports comparing their numbers with cumulative data aggregated across other hospitals in Texas and the U.S. The CEO of Texas Health Resources, Doug Hawthorne, stated, “We are stepping out ahead of every other health system in North Texas and ahead of most other systems across the nation.”

Proactive communications are going to play an increasingly vital role over the coming years as data about the quality of care becomes more visible to healthcare consumers. For example, at the CMS “Hospital Compare” website (link below), consumers can compare their local hospitals’ performance in areas such as:

● Consumer experiences at the hospitals
● Timeliness of care in areas such as heart attack, surgeries and preventive care
● Unplanned readmissions and death rates
● Use of medical imaging
● Medicare spending per beneficiary

Hospitals and health systems that proactively position their performance data will gain competitive advantages in the markets they serve, and the key to success in that effort is strategic communications. CEOs and other executives will need to develop and implement a communications plan to position their data in the most favorable light. The “silver lining” here is that no single hospital or health system will be dominant across a majority of data points, which presents opportunities to competitively position and promote your hospital’s greatest areas of performance.

To view how Texas Health positioned its data and to review the current data points available at “Hospital Compare,” see the web resources below.

Texas Health Resources Quality Reports:

CMS “Hospital Compare” Website:
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This week the Wall Street Journal published a special report titled, “Inside the Executive Brain.” The material addresses topics such as how executives approach the decision-making process.

For example, how do the most effective leaders make the best decisions? While it’s important to gather the facts and logically analyze relevant data, it’s also critical to incorporate your intuition, which itself is based on your cumulative years of experience.

There are two key components to decision making: 1) analytical thinking and 2) social thinking – and social thinking is more important than you may assume.

The difference between an “average leader” and an “exceptional leader” is often determined by the ability to view a problem from multiple perspectives, which involves not only getting input from key stakeholders, but also thinking about how a wide variety of people will respond to your decision.

A dilemma for those in leadership positions is that individuals are often predisposed to applying either analytical thinking or social thinking when making decisions. However, the key to success is cultivating skills in both areas.

Another key element of effective leadership is the ability to inspire people. The key here is to stay positive (use the carrot, not the stick); the most effective leaders inspire people with encouragement and positive praise.

Related to successful inspiration is the ability to articulate a vision. Ideally, you want your people to be able to clearly see the big picture of where the decision is taking them and where the organization is going. This is critical to getting people to buy into your strategy.

This special report from WSJ includes several articles by experts on topics such as the “Four Qualities of Successful Executives” (decisiveness, confidence, flexibility and humility), and “Why Successful Executives Should be Coaches, Not Generals.”

You can access the information at: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303725404579461722158151180
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