A di­verse legacy

Long­time CEO trans­formed the ACHE

Modern Healthcare - - SPECIAL FEATURE -

Over the past two decades, Thomas Dolan’s dy­namic lead­er­ship of the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Health­care Ex­ec­u­tives trans­formed the pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tion by an­tic­i­pat­ing and re­spond­ing to the press­ing chal­lenges of 21st cen­tury health­care.

Dolan gained na­tional and in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion for his numer­ous ef­forts to trans­form the ACHE dur­ing his 22-year ten­ure as pres­i­dent and CEO. He tire­lessly ad­vo­cated for di­ver­sity in the ex­ec­u­tive ranks and ex­panded ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for mem­bers while grow­ing the num­ber of lo­cal ACHE chap­ters.

For his ex­em­plary ser­vice, the ACHE is hon­or­ing its long­time leader as he nears re­tire­ment, mak­ing him one of its two Gold Medal Award win­ners for 2013. ACHE Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent and Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Deb­o­rah Bowen has been cho­sen as Dolan’s suc­ces­sor.

Dur­ing Dolan’s watch, the ACHE in 2003 re­vised its code of ethics, a doc­u­ment that dated to 1941. Mem­bers must now sign the code each time they re­new a mem­ber­ship. The or­ga­ni­za­tion also es­tab­lished an ethics self-as­sess­ment in 1997, an on­line mea­sure­ment tool that asks mem­bers a se­ries of queries on topics that in­clude fi­nan­cial re­port­ing, en­sur­ing eq­ui­table treat­ment for pa­tients of all so­cio-eco­nomic back­grounds, and whether there are ap­pro­pri­ate sys­tems in place to prop­erly com­mu­ni­cate ethics mat­ters with the gov­ern­ing board.

Mem­ber­ship also has grown steadily, ris­ing from more than 21,000 when Dolan be­came CEO to about 44,600 to­day.

He also serves as pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Hospi­tal Fed­er­a­tion, based in Geneva, Switzer­land, and was chair­man of the board of over­seers for the pres­ti­gious Mal­colm Baldrige Na­tional Qual­ity Award pro­gram from 2011 to 2012.

Be­fore Dolan took the top job at ACHE, he served as ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent for five years. Prior to that, the Ev­er­green Park, Ill., na­tive worked seven years as the di­rec­tor of St. Louis Univer­sity’s Cen­ter for Health Ser­vices Ed­u­ca­tion and Re­search.

Even when Dolan, 65, retires in May, con- clud­ing his nearly 30 years in lead­er­ship roles at the Chicago-based or­ga­ni­za­tion, he will still be in­volved, con­tin­u­ing his ad­vo­cacy with the ti­tle of pres­i­dent-emer­i­tus.

The ACHE be­came a force for di­ver­sity un­der Dolan’s guid­ance. He points to a num­ber of re­ports the or­ga­ni­za­tion has com­mis­sioned show­ing per­va­sive dis­par­i­ties in health­care lead­er­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties for women and mi­nori­ties, as well as some of the im­prove­ments the in­dus­try has achieved in re­cent years.

“If you’ll look at your board, if you go to the (ACHE’s an­nual meet­ing) this March, you’ll see, for ex­am­ple, seven out of the 15 mem­bers are women, three out of the 15 mem­bers are peo­ple of color,” Dolan says. “We’ve tried to re­flect so­ci­ety’s di­ver­sity.”

That work will con­tinue af­ter Dolan leaves. The group is broad­en­ing its reach with plans to re­lease a pol­icy state­ment later this year on how health­care ex­ec­u­tives can help les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der pa­tients and em­ploy­ees feel more in­cluded.

“It’s clear if you’re go­ing to run a suc­cess­ful health­care or­ga­ni­za­tion, you’re go­ing to have to at­tract a po­ten­tial work­force whose lead­er­ship will re­flect those pa­tients,” Dolan says.

Be­ing an ad­vo­cate for di­ver­sity means cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment where women and mi­nori­ties feel their con­cerns are be­ing taken se­ri­ously. An­drea Price, pres­i­dent and CEO of Mercy health sys­tem’s North­ern Re­gion, Toledo, Ohio, says that’s one of her men­tor’s great­est strengths. Price, who is African-Amer­i­can, says that when she first met Dolan in 2000, it was rare for any­body to show the pas­sion for di­ver­sity that he dis-

played. His success stemmed from mak­ing peo­ple feel more com­fort­able, she says.

The ACHE re­cently an­nounced plans for the Thomas C. Dolan Di­ver­sity in Ex­ec­u­tive Lead­er­ship Pro­gram to con­tinue ad­dress­ing bar­ri­ers that have im­peded di­ver­sity in the C-suite. The pro­gram in­cludes a schol­ar­ship to help cul­ti­vate di­ver­sity. It will kick off with a din­ner hon­or­ing Dolan dur­ing the ACHE’s an­nual Congress on Health­care Lead­er­ship next month in Chicago.

Dolan also worked to elim­i­nate the oral com­po­nent of the Board of Gov­er­nors Ex­am­i­na­tion in Health­care Man­age­ment, a re­quire­ment of the ACHE fel­low cre­den­tial. While many mem­bers thought the move meant soft­en­ing the cre­den­tial and op­posed the pro­posal, Dolan ar­gued that drop­ping the oral test made the exam more ob­jec­tive.

That was a gutsy move, Price says. “He’s vig­i­lant and de­ter­mined to al­ways ob­tain feed­back and ad­dress thorny is­sues. And through that, he’s gen­er­ated the sup­port of a more ro­bust ACHE or­ga­ni­za­tion,” she says.

Amer­i­can Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent and CEO Richard Umb­den­stock says Dolan’s pro­gres­sive lead­er­ship shows how in tune he is with his mem­bers’ con­cerns. Umb­den­stock also notes how Dolan has part­nered with groups like the AHA and oth­ers to ex­tend ACHE’s reach to in­flu­ence pol­icy change.

Umb­den­stock says Dolan was far ahead of the curve in ad­vanc­ing pro­fes­sional net­work­ing. “Tom was into it be­fore Face­book and ‘friend­ing’ and stuff like that,” he says. “He’s built the ACHE’s lead­er­ship cir­cle and their lo­cal chap­ters.”

Of­fi­cials picked Dolan to head the Baldrige Award board in 2011, which Umb­den­stock says “il­lus­trates the re­spect those folks have, but even more so, it shows Tom’s com­mit­ment to qual­ity im­prove­ment.” An agency of the U.S. Com­merce De­part­ment ad­min­is­ters the awards, which rec­og­nize U.S. or­ga­ni­za­tions, for-profit and not-for-profit, for ex­cel­lence in qual­ity per­for­mance. Health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions have been el­i­gi­ble for the honor since 2007.

Dolan notes how the quest for qual­ity has changed since he en­tered the health­care sec­tor. He says there’s no per­fect for­mula or “sil­ver bul­let” to im­prov­ing health­care qual­ity.

“I think that when I first got started we as­sumed qual­ity, and that was un­for­tu­nate be­cause, again, what we learned is that qual­ity needs to be worked on con­tin­u­ally,” Dolan says. “We also have the mis­taken im­pres­sion that the more qual­ity you get, the more ex­pen­sive it would be. But what we’ve learned is higher qual­ity costs less.”

ICDA 2012

Thomas Dolan

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.