The best of Quint Studer: 10 must-read insights for healthcare leaders

Quint Studer, founder of the Studer Group, speaker and author, has been in the healthcare field for more than 29 years. After years of answering healthcare leaders' questions around the country, Mr. Studer has authored several books, offering insightful leadership advice and organizational best practices. Additionally, he has contributed many ideas and articles to Becker's Hospital Review.

Mr. Studer offers detailed, often prescriptive advice to the issues healthcare leaders commonly face. Becker's Hospital Review is pleased to share and revisit 10 of Mr. Studer's best columns.

1. 5 Traits of High Reliability Organizations: How to Hardwire Each in Your Organization
In this article, Mr. Studer compares the airline industry to healthcare, for both do high-stakes work in which errors can lead to fatal outcomes. While 2012 was the safest year to fly in an airplane since 1945, safety in the healthcare industry has not made such strides. Mr. Studer offers five traits of high reliability organizations that can help improve safety in hospitals.

2. Stop Paying for Paltry Performance: 5 Tips For Hospital Leaders
Here, Mr. Studer names five tips for hospitals to take pay-for-performance concepts into their own hands by enforcing value-based mechanisms in other areas in their organizations. Mr. Studer says hospitals can improve quality and performance while cutting costs if they reexamine contracts while looking toward incorporating performance-based metrics. His five tips address challenges with vendors, fairness and attainability of performance metrics, applying appropriate incentives, not underestimating the power of peers and leading employees to remove excuses.

3. The Hospital CEO's Ultimate Dashboard: What to Check Daily, Quarterly and Yearly
In this article, Mr. Studer weighs in on a problem many CEOs face: They end up spending too much valuable time addressing the symptoms of problems instead of the problems at their core. He suggests the solution to reducing chaos is creating structure. Mr. Studer sorts top issues facing CEOs into four "buckets," including productivity, volume, clinical quality and service, and further categorizes these into tasks to address each year, quarter and day.

4. Urgency Emergency: 5 Ways CEOs Can Cure Complacent Hospitals
Mr. Studer says C-suiters often believe there is a strong sense of urgency in their workforce, when in fact, they may be underestimating the degree of complacency that exists throughout the organization. In this article, Mr. Studer offers five strategies to cure complacency, including sharing information and convincing leaders outside the C-suit of the need for change, illustrating the consequences if the organization's performance stays the same, addressing the changes managers need to make, reevaluating and redesigning leader evaluation tools and evaluating incentive pay.

5. 10 Free (Or Very Inexpensive) Ways To Engage Staff
Mr. Studer addresses the importance of employee and physician engagement in hospitals. In fact, high levels of engagement are correlated with increased compliance with safety protocols and better outcomes for patients. According to Mr. Studer, there are many ways organizations can increase employee engagement at no cost. These include making sure each employee is a proper fit for the organization in the first place, showing respect by increasing transparency, holding those with poor performances accountable, ensuring supervisors are trained in engagement issues, encouraging mentorship, as well other strategies.

6. 5 Things the Most Extraordinary Hospital CEOs Do
While there is no one scorecard to accurately assess a CEO's performance, according to Mr. Studer, there are five skills and abilities that the most effective hospital and health system CEOs predictably demonstrate. Mr. Studer suggests extraordinary CEOs objectively diagnose the organization's ailments, drive variability out of leadership, align their outlook to that of their organization, don't underestimate how change affects employees and consistently manage employee performance.

7. Hospital-Physician Relationships Shouldn't Be One-Size-Fits All
Reimbursement pressure resulting in reduced physician fees have been driving physicians to consider employment or other financial arrangements with hospitals, while hospitals are simultaneously struggling with Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements not covering costs. According to Mr. Studer, there is no proven best approach for alignment, but physicians and hospitals must work together to devise mutually beneficial solutions. He offers four universal elements of "good integration strategy" for alignment. These include good basic operations, physicians who understand the healthcare landscape, informed physician input and financial incentives.

8. 6 Characteristics of High-Performing Healthcare Organizations
According to a Studer Group survey, there are six specific characteristics of healthcare organizations that are correlated with a positive effect on CMS' Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems results. Organizations that don't tolerate low performers, align senior leaders, provide effective leadership training, implement executive leadership evaluation systems, provide consistent leadership and standardize best practices receive higher scores from CMS.

9. Employee Engagement No Longer a "Soft" Science: 3 Steps to Cultivate More Committed Employees
Although employee engagement has come second to addressing issues like volume and reimbursement, issues like patient safety, patient perception of care, and volume and financial performance are linked to the degree of employee engagement. Research from the Studer Group found employees' level of engagement is tied to their relationship with supervisors. According to Mr. Studer's research, three steps to improve such relationships and enhance engagement include selecting the right bosses, understanding the organization's strengths and weaknesses, and investing in development.

10. The Ladder of Employee Engagement: 5 Can't-Miss Steps for Hospital Leaders
In an April 2012 webinar, Mr. Studer shared best practices and insights for hospital executives to maintain or improve employee engagement during cultural transformations. These include incorporating employee engagement in leadership evaluation forms, training managers and supervisors to answer tough questions, conducting 30- and 90- day meetings and treating employee performance as a matter of values.

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