The healthcare industry continues to face an era of seismic change and disruption, one in which the demand for effective leadership is rising more dramatically than ever. The recent pandemic brought this need into sharp relief for healthcare leaders as exhausted clinicians, contentious politicians, and a terrified public cried out for an improved leadership model from those with clinical training, a public health perspective, and balanced priorities greater than the financial bottom line.
Well before the COVID-19 pandemic’s crisis, a constellation of forces had already created a nexus for evolving changes in our industry. For example:
Shifts from volume-based care delivery to a value-based system of care;
Public health-oriented focus on the management of populations toward wellness and resolving the multitude of social determinants of health;
New preference for person-centered care, coupled with shared decision-making;
Redesign of safe, efficient, high-quality clinical care models in diverse settings;
Financial payment models that had begun rewarding healthcare organizations for clinical excellence and coordinated care at reduced cost; and
Emerging shared risk, capitation, and bundled payment strategies.
Historically, healthcare organizations have always benefitted from the distinctive perspective of physicians and nurses among their leadership. But because of increased constraints on revenue and heightened review by payers, non-clinical health system leaders of today are now more often in the position of making critical administrative decisions in isolation that ultimately affect clinical care.
Physician leaders have often been described as “interface professionals” who best connect medical care with management decisions. As a bridge between other physicians, non-physician clinicians, and non-clinical administrators, physician leaders can be the catalyst that every successful organization needs, joining the organization’s so-called sharp end (the front lines of care) with the blunt end (related management, leadership, and governance).
But physicians don’t do it alone, and it’s not just doctors listening to other doctors. They must work with professional clinical teams in complex environments. Nurses, pharmacists, technicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and all members of the direct healthcare team must now work more closely together compared with previous times. And these teams must also continue to work in closer proximity to non-clinical administrators and executives for joint decision-making.
Physician leaders can be the catalyst that every successful organization needs.
Clinical and non-clinical leaders must break down any silos between them while they simultaneously establish a different common ground for new ways of working together. Such collaboration is essential to increase value in healthcare and achieve success in the increasingly prevalent value-based models. Without the combined expertise of clinical and non-clinical administrative leaders, reaching new organizational and population health goals will be challenging, if not impossible. Encouraging clinical acumen and input into administrative and operational decisions fosters collaborative work that benefits all aspects of healthcare delivery.
Without exception, thought leaders in the field of leadership emphasize the critical requirement of building great teams and working within them effectively. But they also point out how challenging it can be for clinicians from all backgrounds to transition from the independent thinking driven into them during their clinical training programs to the interdependence of working within teams—whether these are clinical- or non-clinically based teams. Clinicians must acquire a new set of competencies, including team building and communication skills, business intelligence in finance, marketing, strategy formulation, information technology, law, and other areas required to help steer healthcare organizations of all sizes over the bumps and pitfalls of a complex industry in a high degree of continual flux.
In fact, all sectors of the industry benefit from the evolving collaborative approaches of inter-professional leadership between clinical and non-clinical professions. There is clearly still much work to be done and knowledge to be gained, however, in bringing inter-professional clinicians into the management and leadership arenas of this exceedingly complex industry.
Hospitals and health systems are currently scrambling to maintain their clinical workforces, while also being challenged to recruit talented candidates from the outside as clinical leaders. There is a plethora of onsite leadership courses, experiential learning opportunities, and certificate or advanced-degree programs with universities and colleges. And yet there is a vacuum present for a reliable information stream that focuses on healthcare administration, leadership, and management (HALM) for clinicians of all types—including physicians and non-physician clinicians.
The American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL) is proud to now offer an information resource and journal entirely focused upon the evolving needs of physician and non-physician managers and leaders addressing the multitude of topics and issues related to healthcare administration, leadership, and management—the new Healthcare Administration Leadership and Management Journal (HALM Journal).
Every other month, the HALM Journal will deliver indispensable and reliable results-oriented guidance for a healthcare industry moving toward inter-professional management and leadership that positively impacts patient care outcomes and population health. The HALM Journal is your practical guide on sound fiscal practice, physician and non-physician leadership issues, human resources, health IT, patient-centric care, health law and malpractice topics, and secrets of the best-run healthcare practices.
While it is a challenging time for healthcare as an industry, it is also a potentially exciting time as more clinicians acquire the necessary management and leadership skills to create further large-scale change for the benefit of healthcare delivery and improvements to the general population. The HALM Journal will help facilitate this change process. And the AAPL community also represents a robust network for collaboration and networking to further leverage the knowledge and experience presented in the HALM Journal.