Finding the North Star and Leading to Value

Have you noticed that value-based purchasing really complicates things? Back in the day, being an effective healthcare leader was a pretty straightforward job. Success required managing a handful of strategic physician relationships in order to drive volume.

Today’s healthcare leaders traveling the road to value are much like explorers in uncharted lands. Without a North Star, it is easy to get lost along the way.

The journey is difficult because shifting to value requires a complex network of trusting relationships among many, diverse stakeholders. Of course electronic medical records, effective process improvement and the use of data to guide efforts are really important too. But, like a hospital COO once told me “It’s all easy, except for the people piece.”

Healthcare’s rapid change challenges even the best leaders to keep up. Engaging and building trust with stakeholders across the care system requires a huge shift in strategy, thinking, and leading.

Tactics, implementations, check lists, and processes often take center stage in efforts to create value. It’s easy to understand why leaders focus more on these strategies when the people piece is so warm and fuzzy. The importance of human behaviors is obvious, but the processes for driving behaviors is often overwhelming and … well… fuzzy.

But, the people piece is central to everything. High turnover and low employee engagement are strong signals that it’s time to develop new leadership skills. If these “soft” concerns are left unaddressed, they will continue to resurface and get in the way of value-based outcomes. Leadership practices proven to build trust and promote stakeholder relationships are the foundation for value-driven results.

Healthcare’s guiding light to value can be found in well-defined leadership practices described by researchers as “Ethical Leadership.” The warm and fuzzy becomes tangible through evidence-based practices proven to enhance leader effectiveness, follower’s commitment to organizational results, learning and safety behaviors.

Developing these specific skills enables leaders to gain the trust and commitment of all stakeholders to drive key value-based metrics such as HCAHPS, LOS, HACs, re-admissions, and safety incidents. Ethical Leadership is the North Star leading to value.

To learn more about Ethical Leadership’s connection to patient safety, access our white paper “What’s the role of leadership in creating a safety culture and high reliability?”

Beth Guyton is the founder and President of Interactive Quality, a consulting firm dedicated to improving US healthcare one culture at a time. Interactive Quality’s Ethic Wise Leadership assessment is a validated metric for evidence-based leadership practices proven to drive performance. Learn how you can get leader specific, actionable data to drive performance.

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