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Health Care Needs New Heroes - The Talent Implications of Health Care Reform

Excerpted from the Spring 2011 issue of HR Pulse.

By Debra Walker

Debra WalkerA changing of the guard, a new breed, a revolution, or a paradigm shift…pick your cliché and it applies here. The changes listed above are driving the need for health care to reinvent what it’s looking for from its ‘heroes’ of patient care: executives, physicians, leaders, and staff. That means if hospitals and providers continue to hire the kind of person that was successful in the past, they are likely to fail in the future. Let’s take a closer look at what’s needed at all levels of talent in a post-reform health care organization, and the get-it-done competencies we suggest that organizations use to drive the necessary behaviors:

Surgeon Atul Gawande said it brilliantly in an April 2010 article that ran in Harvard Business Review: Health Care needs a new kind of hero. “Think of Sully Sullenberger, the pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson River,” he says, drawing an analogy to a hero from recent headlines. “The story the public had about him was that he was an unbelievable pilot, and that’s what saved the plane. He was the hero. He kept saying no, it was adherence to protocol and teamwork allowed [the team] to safely land the plane. Heroism in medicine ought to mean having the humility to recognize that we are more likely to fail on our own, and embracing teamwork to help us provide the best care.”

Gone are the days of lone ranger physicians, operating independently according to their own laws of the land. Also diminishing are roles where non-clinical executives manage from offices far away from patients. Expertise from both parties must converge to lead together, which is why we talk about both physicians and executives together here. Harmony and collaboration is not always the norm when it comes to notoriously contentious physician/executive relationships. But this friction has no place in a world of collective strategy execution and shared leadership models. So for executives and physicians, we find this competency effectively describes the behavior necessary to succeed:

Cultivating Clinical and Business Partnerships. Senior leaders must initiate and maintain strategic relationships with stakeholders inside and outside the health system to advance clinical and business goals. This means reaching out to physicians or other executives, cross-functional partners, payers, suppliers, community representatives, unions if applicable, and others to identify partnership opportunities, and to create win-win outcomes for all parties involved.

For more information on the talent implications of health care reform:

Read the entire article Forward Focused Talent.

Debra Walker is a senior consultant for DDI. 

Posted: 08 Mar, 2011,
Talk to an Expert: Health Care Needs New Heroes - The Talent Implications of Health Care Reform
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