Column | Financial Leadership

Let's Have a Think

Column | Financial Leadership

Let's Have a Think

Healthcare finance leaders should think deeply about what they can do to meaningfully contribute to advancing meaningful improvements, including transformed leadership structures, within the nation’s healthcare system.

My new favorite phase—from Drs. Amar Shah and Simon Edgar, consultants for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS)—is, “Let’s have a think.” When was the last time you took time to stop and think deeply?

I recently was given the precious gift of two weeks that allowed me to pause and think strategically—first with our Governance Retreat at Bryan, where we shared ideas and insights with our HFMA peers from the United Kingdom and Australia, and then with a global audience at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s December National Forum. I am struck by this series of independent yet connected opportunities to learn from each other through the lenses of governance, executives, and physicians from across the world. Such intellectual stimulation illuminates the very place where passion meets purpose in each of us.

To allow us to relate to each other, rather than just make comparisons, these events explored common themes reaching beyond country or viewpoint to our shared passion for our patients and communities. We all learn from each other as we pursue highly connected and coordinated systems for health, which demonstrate value in cost of care and measurable outcomes through partnerships and alignment with primary care providers. The tools to aid in this pursuit include integration, mergers, consolidation of support services, centers of excellence, and digital innovation in leveraging scale to promote efficiency by extending support functions and enabling innovations and systems for people across our enterprises. The last connection is in fostering engagement among our patients, workforce, and philanthropic supporters around the pursuit of health, not merely the provision of health care.

This shared list of aspirations starts and ends with leadership from a team of teams. The emerging technology-enabled, collective leadership—evolving in our traditionally led organizations—is something new and foreign to both executives and physicians. Under this new leadership model, the team of teams engages around a shared purpose that is meaningful, possible, valued, and permanent, and is provided with the skills, data, and support needed to excel. It is through a shared emotional connection to that purpose that the impossible is made possible and the magic of a grassroots, open-sharing, co-creating collaboration is realized.

This same evolution is occurring in how we engage with our patients. Today, our health systems present a mixture of paternalistic and patient-centered care, yet we seek between these two extremes the sweet spot: collaborative care or a partnership of care. Isn’t that what we want for ourselves and our families? Whether it’s leading or caring, the three common ingredients are the same: purpose, partnership, and power. How do we not compete, but collaborate? Not control, but expand capability and capacity? Not just fulfill responsibilities, but meaningfully contribute?

Join me, and let’s have a think. Consider your sphere of influence and what you can do. 

About the Author

Carol A. Friesen, FHFMA, MPH,

is HFMA's 2017-18 National Chair. 

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