CHIME15 Recap Part II: CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Healthcare’s Political, Not IT Revolution

In part II of our CHIME15 Fall Forum recap, we focus on the message of Friday’s conference keynote speaker Fareed Zakaria. Zakaria is the host of CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria GPS, and he writes a weekly column for The Washington Post.

In our first CHIME15 recap, we highlighted that CHIME’s c-suite survey pointed to being able to elicit change as the most critical skill for today’s healthcare CIOs. However, in Zakaria’s speech, he seemed to emphasize this great responsibility of healthcare executives more so beyond IT fixes. According to Zakaria, information technology cannot be the magic bullet for America’s healthcare problems.

“I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news,” Zakaria said. “What I mean is that you have a very complicated job ahead of you, which is the structure. In addition to that, you have a Democratic system, which makes it very hard to change the structure.”

According to Zakaria, healthcare isn’t going to operate like any other market because the fundamental structure raises difficulty in achieving certain economies of scale.

Zakaria said that the U.S. has hoped to find a technological fix all to magically get around issues. Instead, he said, “I think, more likely we’re going to have to do the hard work of unraveling the system that we have in place and figuring out how you actually make some hard political decisions that force you to choose, you know, when you’re 85 years, do you need a double hip replacement?”

The revolution needed here is not based on information, but a political revolution.

What are your thoughts in response to Zakaria’s message? Let us know!

Today’s Healthcare Industry Pressures Call for New Executive Capabilities

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When you think about individuals in a hospital c-suite, what characteristics come to mind? Perhaps passion and drive with combined analytical and relational skills? These characteristics unite to meet the needs of today’s patients and industry demands while aiding cross-organizational collaboration. Collaboration is a critical component in leading a complex and integrated healthcare system of care. No longer can separate facets of a healthcare organization operate in individual information silos, and CIOs hold an increasingly important role in connecting a hospital through technology. Considering the building pressures of executives, here are three quick tips for healthcare leadership:

Planning for the Future

Healthcare organizations now look to leaders who are seasoned team players, willing to offer up fresh perspectives affecting the whole. While much of the healthcare industry is in flux, looking toward the future may seem difficult. However, long-term strategies are important for executives new to a position or an organization, especially when considering demands to stretch tightening budgets.

Leading by Example

Frontline staff, from check-in to patient visit follow up, play a crucial role in patient satisfaction. With such a significant role, healthcare leaders need to motivate and lead these individuals by example to impact their actions and decisions toward each patient interaction. C-suite leaders should take the time to engage one-on-one when possible with frontline staff. Those who deliver valuable care are incredibly important to the success of a healthcare organization.

In an article by Becker’s Hospital Review, former Modern Healthcare publisher and author/public speaker Chuck Lauer said the following:

“The healthcare field needs new ideas and courageous leaders to make them happen. Leaders must show resolve and a willingness to change if the conditions merit doing so. On the other hand, a leader must also be consistent and mature in their personal behavior. After all, a leader sets the tone of a given organization and if they are not consistent that can often sow the seeds of unrest and stress. Any of those things can be a major component of failure and consequently must be avoided!”

Addressing “No”

By all means do we understand the incredible juggling act that c-suite executives manage in balancing multiple projects, but what happens when stakeholders want an exciting new project that really isn’t within bandwidth? Within the same Becker’s article, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka shared that “What not to do is as important as what to do, because each of us gets this laundry list of hundreds of things that stakeholders want. The technique I usually use is not to say ‘No.’ ‘No’ is such a negative word, so loaded with emotion. So, I say, ‘Not now.’ My role on the resource side is not to create fear, uncertainty and doubt, but to explain to the board what we need to do.”