Critical Questions… Engage Your Leaders!

Great leaders make sure there are numerous formal and informal opportunities for other leaders within their organization… and not just senior leaders… to grapple with the personal, professional and organizational ramifications of potential innovations within their industry.  The benefits and high value of not only encouraging, but expecting such reflection and dialog are huge and enduring.  Both the organization and leaders benefit in many ways including personal and professional development, meaningful engagement and input, an increased feeling of ownership and taking the journey together, strengthened relationships, mutual respect, and an increased commitment to other leaders and to the organization.  As a result of such reflection and dialog, the leaders are more aware, nimble and open to quickly adapting to inevitable change… even disruption and chaotic change.

Leadership engagement, as discussed above, is applicable to and highly beneficial for any and every industry.  Here is an excellent example for the healthcare industry (where my career background lies);  Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently published Ten Innovations That Will Transform Medicine.  HBR believes these 10 innovations will have a big impact – if they can prove themselves and make it into the mainstream.  HBR is one of the most credible publications in the world.  The men and women who write for HBR are considered to be some of the best thinkers, researchers, and thought leaders in the world.  Why not use HBR research, thinking and publications to benefit your organization and your leaders?

For healthcare providers, suppliers, distributors, and other related organizations, this HBR article provides a perfect and inexpensive opportunity to engage leaders as described above.  Think about the benefits and high value of engaging leaders, whether CEOs, COOs, EVPs, SVPs, VPs, Senior Directors, Directors, managers or other leaders throughout your organization.  These leaders can be engaged in all kinds of different groupings and settings, as appropriate.  There are also many different techniques to maximize engagement and benefit during and after these reflections and discussions.  In fact, I lead and facilitate such discussions.

For well informed healthcare leaders, none of the following will be a big surprise.  However, seriously thinking about, discussing and coming to grips with the personal, professional and organizational ramifications and realities of these, or other potential innovations within the industry is quite another thing! HBRs Ten Innovations That Will Transform Medicine are as follows:

  • “Checklists Health care is catching on to something pilots have known for decades — that by taming complexity, checklists can save lives. In his best seller The Checklist Manifesto, surgeon Atul Gawande describes how using a simple checklist before surgery can help hospitals catch stupid mistakes before they happen (are we operating on the right patient?), reducing deaths nearly half. A checklist tested at Johns Hopkins Hospital required doctors to confirm, among other things, that they’d washed their hands before inserting a central line. Incredibly, when doctors used the list, the 10-day line-infection rate fell from 11% to zero.
  • Behavioral Economics If we all acted rationally, we’d eat right, floss, and take our pills as directed. But of course we can be pretty disobedient about doctors’ orders, which not only is bad for our health but costs hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Behavioral economics tools —gentle prods that nudge us to behave in desired ways — may be more effective than any amount of browbeating by doctors. In a recentHBR blog, John Sviokla and colleagues described how reminders, social pressure, default options, rewards, and other behavioral tricks can be used to improve compliance in stroke and diabetes patients and, surely, anyone else who drops the self-care ball from time to time. Doctors, too, can be nudged as needed to improve care.
  • Patient Portals The idea of organizing all your health information in one place online and coordinating your health-related business from there looks great on paper. Patients could log on to their own secure portal, access and share their medical records, check lab results, renew prescriptions, deal with insurers, and communicate with doctors and nurses. In fact, there are many such patient portals up and running or in the works, Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health among them, promising (as Google puts it) to help you “take charge of your health information.”
  • Payment Innovations “If automakers were paid by the bolt, cars would be brimming with bolts,” Harvard Medical School professor Jeff Levin-Scherz writes in the April 2010 Harvard Business Review. In the U.S., we pay for health care “by the bolt,” shelling out for units of service rather than results, rewarding volume over value, and encouraging extra visits, procedures, and tests. Some studies show that salaried physicians, who have nothing to gain by doing lots of tests and procedures, do fewer of them than doctors paid on a fee-for-service basis. Arrangements that pay a set rate per patient regardless of what services the patient gets can also rein in procedures and costs.
  • Evidence-Based Decision Making It’s unsettling to be reminded that doctors’ decisions aren’t always (or even usually) evidence-based. The mere fact the treatments for a condition vary enormously from one region to the next is proof enough of that. Electronic medical records offer one way to help align what doctors do and what the best evidence says they should do.
  • Accountable Care Organizations The fact that you’d have to label a health organization “accountable” — as opposed to what, exactly? — throws the quality challenge into sharp relief. Most health care is designed to treat you when you’re sick. But — and this might sound crazy — imagine an organization whose job was to keep you healthy and out of the hospital, and actually rewarded its doctors and hospitals when they did.
  • Virtual Visits Now that Skyping your friends in Sydney is routine, it seems that televisiting your doctor will just be a matter of time. Judging from the ubiquitous Cisco ads, in which Ellen Page televisits her doctor in Denmark from Nova Scotia, that time is (virtually) here. Cisco has tested its technology in the U.S. and abroad, and launched a new commercial system this month. Ronald Dixon, director of the Virtual Practice Project at the Massachusetts General Hospital, has found that doctors and their patients readily take to televisiting, which could become a component of patient portals.
  • Regenerative Medicine You know the principle: Stem cells, which can transmute into any type of tissue — muscle, liver, bone, what have you — can potentially cure an array of devastating, once intractable conditions, from cancer to multiple sclerosis to spinal cord injuries. And you know the problem: One important source of stem cells is human embryos. Enough said. One work-around is to cultivate stem cells from amniotic fluid, umbilical cords, or adult tissues, and, indeed, some treatments based on nonembryonic stem cells already appear effective.
  • Surgical Robots Few medical technologies embody the ethos of “newer is better” more than operating-room robots do. With price tags often easily topping $1 million, surgical robots promise to help surgeons squeeze into tight places, performing minimally invasive repairs that, in theory, should lead to better outcomes. Operating-room robots have been around for decades, assisting in everything from heart surgery to kidney transplants, even allowing surgeons to work from remote locations.
  • Genetic Medicine It’s wise to avoid the terms “holy grail” and “breakthrough” in discussing any therapy. But, truly, both apply to attacks on disease at the gene level. There are two big ideas here: One is to replace defective genes with working ones; the other is to tailor drug treatment to your specific genetic profile, creating customized cures.”

For senior healthcare leaders, a superficial reading of the above might result in a response such as, “So what’s new?”  However, for most leaders in most healthcare organizations, seriously thinking about, discussing and coming to grips with the personal, professional and organizational ramifications and realities of these, or other potential innovations within the industry is quite another thing!

Engage your leaders!  For more information, read full article: Ten Innovations That Will Transform Medicine.

If I can be of assistance in any way, please contact me.

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I am a leader, speaker, and author who is passionate about Leadership Excellence and Achieiving Greater Success. I am the author of the books Be An Inspirational Leader(2016) and Presidential Leadership (2013), and deliver keynote presentations on those topics and several others.

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