Expertise, passion are badges of honor
The skills pioneered by this year’s inductees into Modern Healthcare’s Health Care Hall of Fame set the stage for what have become routine practices in contemporary healthcare management.
Bringing scientific measurement and collaborative relationships to healthcare first required someone to articulate the theory. That someone was John Griffith, professor emeritus of healthcare management and policy at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He was an early pioneer in developing techniques for measuring quality and market share and forecasting demand in the hospital sector. His classic Quantitative Techniques for Hospital Planning and Control, published in 1972, laid the groundwork for subsequent developments in those disciplines.
His most widely used textbook, however, is The Well-Managed Healthcare Organization, now in its seventh printing. It emphasizes the need for hospital leaders to promote teamwork and continuous improvement. These strategies are as much in use today as when he first wrote about them in 1987.
Those skills were certainly needed in the 1990s when Fred Brown, the former president and CEO of BJC HealthCare in St. Louis, was playing the central role in knitting together what would become a 13-hospital system with 200 care sites across Missouri and Illinois. It was one of the first megamergers in the not-forprofit healthcare sector, setting a pattern for the dozens of mergers that followed over the ensuing decades.
It wasn’t integration for integration’s sake. Brown presciently saw that insurers’ rapidly spreading managed-care programs required systems to integrate their care-delivery operations from the physician’s office to the post-acute-care settings. After getting his Christian Health Services to merge with Barnes and Jewish hospitals, he pushed the combined system to offer what we now call accountable care—long before that term came into widespread use.
Collaboration was also the hallmark of the long career of Yoshi Honkawa, who served as vice president of government and industry relations for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from 1978 to 2001. From his earliest days in government relations, he demonstrated the rare ability to serve or counsel politicians from both political parties. He played a central role in helping to craft policy proposals that ensured adequate funding for research and graduate medical education.
Honkawa is also a passionate advocate of greater diversity in healthcare management. His mentoring of young leaders through the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy led last year to the school naming a new lifetime achievement award after him and making Honkawa its first recipient.
Teamwork, collaboration, continuous improvement. Scientific, predictive, forward-looking. Kind, caring, decent. They are benchmarks for every leader who aspires to greatness. Those traits exemplify the careers of the three individuals who make up the 2014 class of the Health Care Hall of Fame.