5 Tips for Hospital Executives Tackling New Challenges

Hospital executives are currently striving to succeed in an industry experiencing a tremendous amount of change. Instead of seeing that transformation as a problem, healthcare leaders should see it as an opportunity, says Gary G. Fybel, senior vice president and CEO of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla (Calif.).

"This is a once-in-a-career opportunity for us," he said. "We need to embrace it."

At the Becker's Hospital Review 5th Annual Meeting in Chicago on May 16, Mr. Fybel and Carol J. Geffner, PhD, president of Newpoint Healthcare Advisors, shared the following five tips for hospital leaders looking to tackle new challenges and thrive in a rapidly transforming healthcare industry.

1. Adapt to a horizontal, integrated world. The structure of healthcare organizations is shifting from vertical to horizontal, Dr. Geffner said. "Hospitals are built around hierarchies, even the best," she said. "But now, in building a continuum of care, there's a different structure that needs to be embedded." Hospital leaders need to ensure their employees are functioning and thinking as an integrated team, rather than focusing solely on their own areas.

2. Focus less on IQ and more on emotional intelligence. Hospital executives can no longer stand out without having strong people skills, Dr. Geffner said. Now, they must be compassionate, collaborative, know how to listen and realize the impact they have on others. "That's now coming into the mainstream as a set of business skills instead of a set of soft skills," she said.

3. Think broadly. Hospital executives must be able to break out of old ways of thinking and old care models in order to be successful today, according to Dr. Geffner. "Because the world has shifted so much…what's now being valued is being a curious learner," she said.

4. Remember who "got you to the dance." Hospital leaders should remember and recognize that they have very smart people working with them, Mr. Fybel said. He advised leaders to shift their mindset from thinking that they're the experts to relying on their staff. "We always think administrators are the experts, but it's really our staff that are the experts," he said. "Our challenge is to be a facilitator and to help bring people together and to engage our staff."

5. Stay mentally and physically strong. Mr. Fybel advised hospitals leaders to take care of themselves and their staff members. This can include wellness programs for staff. For instance, he said his hospital's parent system, San Diego-based Scripps Health, provides health insurance to employees for free if they achieve certain wellness thresholds.

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