As healthcare providers, large and small, move toward accountable value-based reimbursement and population health management, those of us who serve those companies are preparing for change as well. Like our customers, we, too, must be prepared to be more accountable — own the outcome, share the financial risks in what we do or recommend and, above all else, be flexible in responding to changing market demands.
We believe that the old model of executive recruiting is nearing the end of its useful life cycle; 50 years is a long time for a business model to survive. We are talking to clients who want more accountability to ensure they receive full value for the fees they pay, flexibility and convenience in how we help them address their talent acquisition needs and, most of all, innovation to help them stay out in front of the transformational curve when it comes to human capital issues.
I rarely talk about my Firm in this space. But today, I am going to share with you some of the things we are working on. I beg your pardon in advance for this self-serving moment, but frankly I am kind of excited about what we are doing, and very proud of some very bright people, our partners that work with us to make a meaningful difference.
Innovation, a willingness to try new things, is part of our DNA. A hospital CEO once told me that if important industry change was occurring in the middle of a crowded freeway, he expected to see me there, dodging the cars, trying to understand it and drag it off the freeway where it can be useful to others. I am not sure about his example, but I have always been that guy who is excited by change. I will run to it rather than away from it.
We were one of the first executive search firms to offer clients a three-year placement guarantee for executive level personnel. We are one of the few executive search consultancies that videotapes our interviews with recommended candidates so that clients can make a more informed selection of which candidates they want to interview on site, and we are one of the only search firms that offers a team-building workshop with the new candidate as part of our search fee.
Here is a brief summary on our changes:
We are determined to be the light at the end of the tunnel, not the onrushing freight train.
© 2014 John Gregory Self
When former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin infamously predicted that the Affordable Care Act would create “death panels”, I wanted to wring her neck. She took an incredibly important, albeit difficult, issue and trivialized it for the purpose of promoting her election/brand. With this hyperbole, I reasoned, we would not be able to have the serious national discussion about wasteful spending on end of life care.
And we haven’t.
Little did I know that there would be another issue — one which has not yet hit Ms. Palin’s sound bite radar that could potentially be more problematic, and politically explosive, concerning our efforts to control healthcare costs: the use of big data to influence lifestyle behaviors in a quest for effective population health management.
Merchant marketers are already doing it. A woman who has just found out she is pregnant, visited a Target store. Flush with the news, she made several purchases that would suggest she was pregnant. She told no one except her husband. Yet, two weeks later, she received a direct mail product promotion hyping all the things that a new mother will need. How did they know? Simply by looking at her purchases using marketing algorithms specifically designed for this purpose. Voila, a slick direct mail brochure customized for her medical condition that was supposedly a secret.
In what I believe will become a major professional/moral clash between the financial imperative to modify unhealthy lifestyles in order to lower our astronomical healthcare costs and the patient’s right to privacy, healthcare systems are beginning to mimic the retail industry.
Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek magazine recently revealed that large health systems are acquiring consumer data streams so that they can be, theoretically, proactive in managing their patients’ health, a financial imperative in the healthcare system of the not-to-distant future.
The illustration they selected to prove their point: a Marcus Welbyesque physician looking at a female patient with the caption: DON’T LIE TO ME SUSAN, I KNOW ABOUT THE 2 A.M. PAPA JOHN’S DELIVERIES.
“Imagine getting a call from your doctor if you let your gym membership lapse, or make a habit of buying candy bars at the checkout counter, or begin shopping at plus-size clothing stores.” For patients who use the Carolinas Healthcare System, that day could be sooner than they realize, the article predicted. They have begun plugging in the consumer data of 2 million people into algorithms designed to identify high-risk patients so that doctors can intervene before they get sick.
The hospital is developing risk scores for patients, and within two years the health system plans to routinely distribute those scores to doctors and nurses who can then reach out to the patients suggesting changes before they become ill.
Dr. Michael Dulin, Chief Clinical Officer for Analytics and Outcomes, posited that many retail companies are already using data to encourage people to buy things that may not be in their best interest. “We are looking to apply this for something good,” he told BusinessWeek.
That may be, but I can already hear the talking heads decrying this inappropriate intrusion by Big Brother.
I do not believe this characterization of an important population health management strategy is fair, but in this current political environment, if you want fair, come to Dallas in October. They call it the state fair.
© 2014 John Gregory Self
Healthcare leadership, really good leadership, is more than achieving objectives, hitting the numbers, making the bottom line.
During periods of transformational change, leaders have to offer more – exceptional dedication, and, most of all, inspiration.
It is always surprising to me how many people in healthcare dislike, intensely dislike, change even though our industry has experienced 20+ years of fairly dynamic change, primarily in technology. This alone, this glaring fact of human nature, requires leaders who understand this and who will work diligently to bring along their conflicted colleagues with their vision.
In Wednesday’s post, I borrowed the Rev. Barbara Brown’s light bulb metaphor from Matthew’s version of Jesus of Nazareth’s Sermon on the Mount. We all have a light bulb. It is a gift from the Creator. What we do with this gift, the Rev. Ms. Brown said, is the real issue in life. Leaders have a special duty when it comes to their light bulb. The difference between great leaders, the decided minority, and the so-so crowd is the wattage we pump into the bulb. How brightly do we illuminate the room – our organization – for the people who follow us?
So we return to the wattage issue – what we do with the gifts and talents we have. I believe the wattage is comprised of dedication, passion and the desire to inspire. In earlier posts, I have used the example of the traveling evangelist leadership model, the CEO who proudly and frequently – with every interaction, in every meeting – talks about his or her vision for excellence in quality of care and the safe treatment of patients. This type of leader energizes the workforce – from physicians to the hourly workers who clean the rooms – to singularly focus on making what we do a very personal mission as if we were treating those we love the most.
Happy are those who benefit from this leadership light, this moral imperative.
© 2014 John Gregory Self