Com­mit­ments for change

Leaders must fo­cus on ex­cel­lence, de­vel­op­ing oth­ers in dy­namic times

Modern Healthcare - - Opinions Commentary - Christo­pher Van Gorder

While the de­tails of health­care re­form re­main un­cer­tain, it is clear we are at the thresh­old of un­prece­dented change. At no other time in our his­tory has strong, eth­i­cal and vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship been more crit­i­cal to the de­liv­ery of qual­ity pa­tient care.

The Amer­i­can Col­lege of Health­care Ex­ec­u­tives has long been a part­ner, re­source and guide for health­care’s leaders. Col­lec­tively, we share a com­mit­ment to in­tegrity, life­long learn­ing, lead­er­ship and di­ver­sity. It is liv­ing th­ese val­ues as leaders that sets us apart as a pro­fes­sion.

For me, lead­er­ship be­gins with re­spon­si­bil­ity, au­thor­ity and ac­count­abil­ity—and ac­count­abil­ity is the key. Leaders who ac­cept ac­count­abil­ity also ac­cept eth­i­cal busi­ness prac­tices and open com­mu­ni­ca­tion—some­thing we see lack­ing far too of­ten in to­day’s busi­ness world.

Eth­i­cal, ac­count­able lead­er­ship is im­per­a­tive to­day. The ACHE’s Code of Ethics, Ethics Self-As­sess­ment and Eth­i­cal Pol­icy State­ments are tools health­care leaders can use to mea­sure their ac­tions and to build and main­tain a cul­ture of ethics in their or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Board cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in health­care man­age­ment is an­other way the ACHE sets the stan­dard for health­care lead­er­ship ex­cel­lence. At­tain­ing and main­tain­ing the fel­low of the ACHE cre­den­tial re­quires a com­mit­ment to con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion and the on­go­ing hon­ing of man­age­ment and lead­er­ship skills. Life­long learn­ing is es­sen­tial for health­care leaders to­day given the dy­namic na­ture of our en­vi­ron­ment.

The ACHE pro­vides myr­iad re­sources, in­clud­ing books, jour­nals and ed­u­ca­tional of­fer­ings, to pro­vide health­care ex­ec­u­tives with the knowl­edge they need to be ef­fec­tive leaders. The ACHE’s Se­nior Ex­ec­u­tive and Ex­ec­u­tive pro­grams specif­i­cally aim to pre­pare health­care ex­ec­u­tives for the next level of health­care lead­er­ship. And the ACHE’s part­ner­ship with its 82 lo­cal chap­ters brings ed­u­ca­tional and lead­er­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties to the lo­cal level.

The ACHE’s Fund for In­no­va­tion in Health­care Lead­er­ship con­tin­ues to strengthen health­care lead­er­ship by pro­vid­ing schol­ar­ships and learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties on im­por­tant health­care trends and is­sues. Later this year, the fund will of­fer its an­nual ethics pro­gram and a pro­gram ex­plor­ing in­no­va­tions in med­i­cal tech­nolo­gies.

As health­care pro­fes­sion­als, we all have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­velop leaders for the fu­ture. The ACHE fosters lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment by con­nect­ing men­tors and pro­teges through its Lead­er­ship Men­tor­ing Net­work. The ACHE’s Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Net­work, made up of 170 health ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­grams, of­fers pro­grams and re­sources—in­clud­ing in­ter­ac­tion with ACHE elected of­fi­cials and chap­ter leaders—that en­hance stu­dent net­work­ing and learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. And the ACHE’s health­man­age­ment­ca­reers.org Web site is de­signed to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion to high school and col­lege stu­dents about the health­care man­age­ment pro­fes­sion.

Our com­mu­ni­ties are chang­ing, and we must change with them. Fos­ter­ing di­ver­sity and cul­tural com­pe­tence is yet an­other value we share as leaders. The ACHE takes a num­ber of steps to carry out this com­mit­ment and to en­cour­age di­ver­sity among the health­care lead­er­ship ranks. To help ed­u­cate the pro­fes­sion, the ACHE con­ducts and re­leases re­search on the ca­reer at­tain­ments of health­care ex­ec­u­tives by race and eth­nic­ity. The ACHE also of­fers schol­ar­ships and an an­nual in­tern­ship to mi­nor­ity health ad­min­is­tra­tion stu­dents. In ad­di­tion, the ACHE ac­tively sup­ports the In­sti­tute for Di­ver­sity in Health Man­age­ment and its key mem­ber groups.

As leaders, we touch many con­stituen­cies. That is why the ACHE col­lab­o­rates with many health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions to fur­ther lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment. For ex­am­ple, the ACHE con­tin­ues to ed­u­cate its mem­bers about crit­i­cal pol­icy is­sues by reg­u­larly high­light­ing the work of the In­sti­tute for Health­care Im­prove­ment, Cen­ter for Health­care Gov­er­nance and Gov­er­nance In­sti­tute in Health­care Ex­ec­u­tive mag­a­zine.

As health­care faces cer­tain and mo­men­tous change, each of us has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to build and re­fine our lead­er­ship skills and to de­velop the skills of oth­ers. To this end, I en­cour­age you to:

En­roll in for­mal ed­u­ca­tional of­fer­ings to re­fine your man­age­ment and lead­er­ship skills.

Achieve cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in your pro­fes­sion and en­cour­age oth­ers to do so.

Men­tor other as­pir­ing leaders who can ben­e­fit from your knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence.

Sup­port di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion among the lead­er­ship ranks as a means of strength­en­ing our or­ga­ni­za­tions and the ser­vice we pro­vide our com­mu­ni­ties.

Par­tic­i­pate in your pro­fes­sional so­ci­eties and their lo­cal chap­ters to net­work with oth­ers; en­hance your knowl­edge and con­trib­ute to learn­ing across the field.

Ed­u­cate your­self about crit­i­cal pol­icy is­sues and how to in­flu­ence pub­lic pol­icy.

Be­come in­volved with state and na­tional trade groups to im­prove your un­der­stand­ing of is­sues af­fect­ing your or­ga­ni­za­tion and com­mu­nity.

Build strong part­ner­ships within your or­ga­ni­za­tion to im­prove the de­liv­ery of care and op­ti­mize the use of re­sources.

Seek out op­por­tu­ni­ties to col­lab­o­rate in your com­mu­nity to care for and im­prove the health sta­tus of the pop­u­la­tion at large.

Speak to stu­dents about health­care ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties, and share your pas­sion for your pro­fes­sion.

By demon­strat­ing a com­mit­ment to lead­er­ship ex­cel­lence and tak­ing an ac­tive role in de­vel­op­ing oth­ers, we can en­sure health­care has the lead­er­ship re­quired to meet the chal­lenges ahead and, most im­por­tant, help those who are at the cen­ter of our work—our pa­tients.

Christo­pher Van Gorder is chair­man

and a fel­low of the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Health­care Ex­ec­u­tives, as well as pres­i­dent and CEO of Scripps Health,

San Diego.

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