Rebranding a Hospital: Q&A With Jim Dague, CEO and President of Indiana University Health Goshen

In January, Goshen (Ind.) Health System announced it would change its name to become Indiana University Health Goshen. The rebranding reflected a partnership with IU Health, formerly Clarian Health, that is approximately 10 years old but not well-known in the system's marketplace. Jim Dague, CEO of the system, discusses reasoning behind the rebranding, as well as accountable care organizations, small-town leadership skills and employee engagement.

Q: This partnership between Goshen Health and IU Health is about 10 years old, but it's resurfaced and seems more apparent in recent months, marked by Goshen's change in name. Can you explain why that is?

Jim Dague:
Just as Clarian did at the state level with the IU Health name, we did market research in our service areas before the name change to investigate whether Goshen Health System carried more weight. Surprisingly, there was an immediate positive reaction to IU Health with Goshen part of it. In our information, the community seemed to say, "We know you have a remarkable cancer center, but we didn't know you were part of IU Health." This rebranding is focused on letting our community know about this partnership, which leaves us with better access to capital, more capabilities and an affiliation with the only medical school in the state.

Q: Can you expand on IU Health Goshen's rebranding and how it's being received?

We're seeing recruitment benefits. We can tell people we're affiliated with the only medical school in the state. We've got people coming to us, saying, "Wow, you're a part of IU Health. As a physician, I want a foot in that camp." It's attracting opportunities we might not have had strictly as Goshen Health System. This has elevated the marketplace opinion based on a halo effect.

Q: You've mentioned Goshen Hospital is in small-town America, which has different values than large cities. How might leaders from smaller community hospitals or systems differ in approach to community relations compared to leaders from large, urban hospitals?

JD: I came here from inner-city Baltimore. I've also worked in downtown Chicago. I think when people get to leave work and drive home to the suburbs, there is a nice anonymity they can enjoy. In a small town, when I leave work and drive home, I still carry that responsibility with me. I see people who work at IU Health Goshen Hospital or who have been patients. If I do layoffs here, I might be laying off a neighbor or a relative. That kind of constant contact and reinforcement helps develop a continuity of effort, from my perspective. It makes you more conscious.

Q: This partnership seems to put Goshen in a good place in terms of healthcare reform and accountable care organizations. Can you expand on how each of these come into play?

One of the benefits of this association is IU Health is taking the leadership role in developing ACO capabilities. Most community hospitals don't have capabilities to be all things to all people. Through IU we do have those capabilities. I think we're positioned very well. Were ACOs not to happen, private insurance companies are still following that general trend — focusing on bonuses for quality and value-based purchasing. We, as part of the IU Health system across the state, have the ability to see best practices and duplicate them.

Q: As CEO, can you offer some tips on how you maintain or enhance employee engagement?

JD: We started our Uncommon Leader program 12 years ago. We have engaged every colleague in the organization — that's the term we use. There are no employees, only colleagues. There is no reason for me to sit in my office and try to improve a procedure that someone else prides themselves on. Through the program, they have the permission and expectation to improve policies. Systemwide, our colleague satisfaction scores are in the 98th percentile. These cultural improvements have readied us to survive and thrive in healthcare reform.

Another tip: celebrate everything. There are no bad ideas. A lot of people think they've done this, but if a hospital's quality scores aren't in the 95th percentile, and patient satisfaction isn't in the 85th percentile, something has to change. Changes have to be supported, mentored and pushed by the CEO — not delegated.  

Also, don't worry about your competition. Compare yourself to yourself. What we've said is we're not trying to compare ourselves to somebody else at the 75th percentile. Aim for the 95th percentile across the board for satisfaction. We've established goals for patient satisfaction and seen a range of periphery benefits result, such as Magnet accreditation and becoming known as an employer of choice. We haven't had any layoffs in 17 years.

Q: It's interesting how everyone at Goshen is a colleague. How did that start?

JD: It started in 1998. In management school, they use some negative terms: superior and subordinate. That's not really the message you want to send to people to motivate them to become engaged. We try to avoid level-relationships and establish a direct report relationship between managers and colleagues. If you use the word employee, we won't correct you, but we'll kind of say, "Oh, by the way, it's 'colleagues.'"

Learn more about Indiana University Health Goshen.

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