5 thoughts from Quint Studer: The value of pauses, decisiveness and proper timing

With nearly 30 years of healthcare experience, Quint Studer has established himself as a strong advocate for change and improvement and as a go-to expert for management advice.

The founder of Pensacola, Fla.-based Studer Group took some time to share his insights about the best management advice he's ever received, the most interesting issue facing healthcare leaders today and his concerns about physician morale. quintstuder

Question: What is the best management advice you ever received?

Quint Studer: Pause. While procrastination is not good, leaders (including me) feel the need to act and find they did not pause enough. I say often I have never regretted a pause, however I have many instances of regretting not pausing. Years ago, I asked my boss why he was not taking action on a situation. He said he usually gives a situation between 24 and 72 hours and finds many times they work themselves out.

Q: What do you see as the most interesting issue facing healthcare and healthcare leadership today?

QS: Ambiguity. In the book "Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard," the Heath brothers [authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath] state that 80 percent of failure to succeed is based on ambiguity. I find today an unclear external reimbursement environment is causing leaders to be very cautious in direction, which is understood. However, this also creates ambiguity in the organization, which is not good.

Q: When you talk to health system leadership today, what is the biggest challenge you hear about?

QS: Timing. While we can hear talk of payment of value and population health, the providers are still paid in different ways. So while a leader may know when to get to a goal, getting to that goal too early or too late can have consequences.

Q: How do health systems perceive the change in healthcare delivery (i.e., as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)? Are they largely adjusting today or wringing their hands?

QS: I feel leaders clearly know that the payment system changes combined with transparency on quality and experience are present, but their actions may still not address the toughest issue facing organizations, which is not the structure or strategy but the execution. Systems still lag behind where they want and need to be in evidence-based medicine, access to care, clinical quality and people engagement, especially with physicians. 

Q: How do physicians feel about the changes in healthcare?   

QS: Physician morale today is what nurse morale was in the mid 1990s. This is a feeling of a loss of control of their environment and future. Over 50 percent of primary care, critical care and emergency physicians report being burned out. If we cannot improve the current environment of the physicians today, we will lose the future physicians. Based on intelligence, skill and education, physicians are the best of the best. Other industries treat their top performers much better than we treat physicians in their work environment.

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