This blog post is a companion a Voice America interview with Robert Falcone, MD in which he talks about his career progression and his current role as CEO of the Columbus Medical Association. This organization epitomizes the change effective organizations need to make to thrive and continue to meet their missions. Much of the content is drawn from the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Physician Leaders by Metcalf, Stoller, Pfeil and Morrow-Fox.
“Leadership plays a critical role in any health care organization’s long-term success, and innovation has become a strategic necessity in today’s health care environment. In short, physician leadership and innovation have a greater impact today than ever before. Despite the volume of resources exploring both leadership and innovation, most approaches provide merely anecdotal directional solutions that lack sufficient information to actually allow leaders to make measureable change. Add to this equation the impact a diverse workforce and increasing competition have on health care organizations, and leaders face an even greater challenge.
As the health care landscape becomes more complicated, the need for strong leadership increases at an ever-increasing pace. Physician and hospital leaders face more complex challenges as health care reform moves forward along with increasing competition and downward price pressures. The annual survey of top issues confronting hospitals, conducted by the American College of Healthcare Executives’ (ACHE’s) in 2012, asked respondents to rank eleven issues affecting their hospitals in order of importance and to identify specific areas of concern within each of those issues. The survey was sent to 1,202 community hospital CEOs who are ACHE members, of whom 472, or 39 percent, responded. Financial challenges again ranked No. 1 on the list of hospital CEOs’ top concerns in 2012, making it their No. 1 concern for the last nine years. Patient safety and quality ranked second. Health care reform implementation, which had been the No. 2 concern since it was introduced to the survey in 2009, moved to No. 3 in 2012. (www.ache.org/pubs/research/ceoissues.cfm)
In this continuously changing environment, the importance of strong physician leadership is accelerating at the same time that many physician leaders are retiring.
One primary reason for a potential leadership void is the pending retirement of the baby boom generation. Health care organizations have only recently begun to invest in developing their leaders. A 1995 survey of 122 CEO’s of healthcare institutions discovered that 31% of these organizations offered in-house leadership programs. In 2002, the health care industry spent only 1.25% of their payroll on training and development while the top corporations spent 4% of payroll on these activities
—Hopkins, O’Neil, FitzSimons, Bailin, Stoller
Leadership and Organization in Healthcare: Lessons from the Cleveland Clinic, 2011
With this rapid rate of change, questions on how to lead and where to innovate remain puzzlingly philosophically: What is the role of physician leadership in a time of looming uncertainty? How will organizations innovate to overcome challenges that are largely unprecedented? In a new climate of business, is there a formula for creating success in both areas?
Every system, including the human operating system, is built to get the results it gets. Moreover, every system has a design limit, which when reached cannot be surpassed unless it undergoes transformation. For human beings, reinvention means new ways of being, thinking and acting. Not surprisingly, reinvention and mastery are tightly linked. All of us, regardless of our talents, must learn to lead ourselves. “Conventional thinking”, writes Lee Thayer, “always and inevitably leads to conventional results” (Thayer, 2004). Slowly but surely we are learning that the process of transforming ourselves and our organizations is not just about acquiring more knowledge or changing our business strategy but also about exposing the hidden contexts that shape our ways of being and acting and limit our opportunity set for leading ourselves and others more effectively. Change resides in new ways of being, talking, and acting, which are shaped by our underlying yet hidden beliefs and assumptions (Souba, 2009). The kind of learning required to shift our worldviews is enormously challenging, but it is essential for effective leadership in health care given the enormous disequilibrium and turbulence in the environment.
—Wiley W. Souba, The Science of Leading Yourself: A Missing Piece in the Health Care Transformation Puzzle, 2013″
For leaders charting the course for the organizations impacted by the major changes in health care, it is critical that they look at both their leadership approach in this dynamic environment. The Columbus Medical Association is one organization proactively setting the course for these changes and Robert is a great example of a leader who has continually reinvented himself as he faces each successive organizational challenge.
To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.
About the Columbus Medical Association
The Columbus Medical Association (CMA) has had a rich and honored history in central Ohio dating back to 1892. As it approaches its 125th anniversary, a compelling story of physicians who have come together to better serve the residents of the community can be told. Decade by decade, physician members of the CMA (formerly called the Academy of Medicine of Central Ohio) collaborated on issues that had an impact on patients locally and sometimes nationally. One of many highlights was the coordinated effort to administer the polio vaccine to the community in 1955.
In addition to the many ways the CMA physicians have responded to community needs, its membership has also looked ahead to find ways to proactively address issues that impact the health of central Ohioans. Indeed, the Columbus Medical Association Foundation (CMAF), Physicians CareConnection (PCC) and Central Ohio Trauma System (COTS) are all affiliate organizations of the CMA that were born from the vision of CMA members and are now thriving organizations serving community needs.
Today, physicians are more diverse and are practicing in an immensely more complex health care environment than they were in 1892. However, CMA physicians continue to look for ways to improve the health of their patients and the central Ohio community through advocacy, education and old-fashioned compassion.