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Can Your Leadership Style Survive the New Healthcare Reality?

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Fri, Sep 07, 2018 @ 07:00 AM

rawpixel-668353-unsplashMedicine tends to feel like ground shifting underneath our feet, most days. Each day brings new challenges (and perhaps new opportunities) -- and as healthcare providers, we're left trying to find our footing.

One key shift is that as medicine becomes more regulated and “bigger business”, healthcare providers set the agenda less — and increasingly must adapt to the agenda being set by the rest of the healthcare system.

For instance, in the shift to value-based care, so much about how we measure success and how we look at our goals, team, and even income, is changing. All of these changes can leave doctors and hospital administrators -- often seen as the "leaders" in medicine -- playing catchup. For anyone who is, or who sees themselves as, a leader in medicine, the nature of their work is shifting from one type of leadership to another type of leadership, altogether.

As this article in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst affirms, these changes require leaders to develop new skill sets.“This transformation is driven by a shift from fee-for-service models, which reward volume of care delivered (e.g., quantity of procedures, tests, and relative value units) when patients get sick and need care, toward value-based care models, which reward high quality and excellent health outcomes delivered through careful deployment of resources to keep populations healthy.” In fact, the author lays out four key types of leaders in medicine that are particularly catalytic and important in any organization -- or provider -- thriving in this new setting. 

These archetypes certainly resonate with our experience in medicine as key to surviving and thriving in this new setting. But the truth is that no leader exists in a vacuum. Great leaders need great teams and exceptional tools. And so today, we look at these 4 leadership styles and how they can be supported by the right team approach and the right tools. 

4 leadership styles that will succeed in the new value-based healthcare system and why they need the right tools:

1. Community Connector

As we share frequently in this blog, the New England Journal article affirms that, “60% of the factors that influence health status are outside the control of our legacy health care systems in the forms of social, behavioral, and environmental circumstances." So their first leadership style is one that can connect with the people, organizations, and resources that relate to these circumstances.

We actually think that integrating these non-medical factors is foundational to good care, and that connecting these dots should be an everyday part of your care. It's not always easy to connect these dots however -- it becomes crucial to have a healthcare collaboration tool that allows you to connect with the people on your team who can bring these additional perspectives. For instance, the teacher, social worker, WOCN, they all tend to bring in more of the “unconventional” aspects of care that we know are just as crucial as the surgery or office visit. Just be sure that the tool you use is asynchronous -- meaning folks can respond when they have time -- so that coordinating schedules doesn't become an obstacle to collaboration. 

2. Coordinated Care Champions

The author defines this leadership skill as, “encouraging other leaders to think above and beyond the way health care systems are organized today and by leading stakeholders to adopt and build the new coordinated care models of tomorrow.” 

The article says that coordinated care leaders need to be champions for rethinking how we coordinate care around and across the roadblocks of our legacy healthcare system. To us, this makes coordinated care seem like an innovative add-on, rather than a crucial foundation of what it means to care for an individual patient. We believe that no healthcare provider has the option to "skip over" being a master of coordinated care. Coordinating care among a medical team, and at all steps along a medical journey, is simply good patient care. Yes, it helps to have the tools to make that feasible (including Hybrid Store-and-Forward® telemedicine) but we believe no one is exempt. 

3. Trust-based Dyads

This leadership style is described as “redefining and strengthening many critical relationships throughout the health care industry," people who are able to create trusting relationships between medical providers and those in administrative or management positions. The truth is that there is ever-less distinction between these two positions and that everyone on the medical team -- whether traditionally a healthcare provider or not -- is crucial to ensuring that each person is cared for well. Our take? Trust comes from doing important work together, successfully. So having the tools we need to care for our patients -- together -- becomes the way to build that trust and do that work. 

4. Value Evangelists

A value evangelist is seen as someone “guiding their organizations to overcome both the magnitude and pace of change that are required to relentlessly pursue value-based care... and to motivate complex organizations to persevere through change that disrupts established norms and habits.”  We've certainly found this to be the case. There is often one person in each organization that is responsible for the innovation required to improve patient care. The interesting reality, though, is that this person is not always the person at the top of the hierarchy with the highest title and salary level. It may be a social worker, an aide, a new doctor, or a nurse who pioneers a new tool like iClickCare, begins using it herself, and thus becomes a champion for a new way of doing medicine and improving care. 


All of these leadership styles and attributes are crucial as we move forward into the new stages of medicine -- and I believe that they're all common across our organizations, very much across the continuum of care. Each minute of each day, we can choose whether and how to embody these principles -- and it's up to us as medical providers. But it also depends on making sure we have the right tools to succeed. 


Learn from other leaders in medical collaboration with our Quick Guide: 


ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration

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