What's on hospital CEOs' bookshelves

Hospital and health system CEOs are working to tackle the challenges within their respective organizations and within the industry today, while also looking to prepare for the future. For some, this means reading up to prepare for the next three to 10 years.

Larry Antonucci, MD, president and CEO of Fort Myers, Fla.-based Lee Health, recently told Becker's he finished "21 Lessons for the 21st Century" by Yuval Noah Harari. 

"It is a fascinating book that delves into what the century is going to look like regarding AI and robotics and computers and globalization," Dr. Antonucci said. "And how Big Data is watching us and the fact that when we use computers and we use the internet that we're not customers, we're actually the product. The information we put in there is being sold to others. It's really a very fascinating thought provoking book. I would recommend it to anybody."

Bob Riney, president and CEO of Detroit-based Henry Ford Health, recently told Becker's he's reading a book called "Attack from Within: How Disinformation Is Sabotaging America" by Barbara McQuade. 

"It just came out, and the book itself is about the level of disinformation flooding citizens of our country vis-à-vis social media networks. But what I'm walking away with from reading the book is the unbelievable impact that it is having on our mental health," said Mr. Riney.

"And so I look at the advancement of disinformation and the sophistication of disinformation as a real additional threat to our mental health and the impact that that could have on healthcare, because we're already seeing mental health demands that we are struggling to keep up with. And I think that the issues that are raised in this book tell me that we're going to see a lot more, and we have to prepare for it."

Additionally, Cliff Megerian, MD, CEO of Cleveland-based University Hospitals, launched a book club for employees in 2022. Today, Cliff's Notes: A UH Book Club, which is named after Dr. Megerian, continues to evolve.

He told Becker's earlier this year that the trust that's gained at the book club meetings — where there are sometimes intense discussions as people give their opinions and perceptions of a book — has elevated the culture of University Hospitals.

"Whether it's the CEO or whether it is anyone else in the organization … that person's opinion matters. And I think this also has helped elevate one of my goals … of creating a speak-up culture where people feel empowered to speak up when they sense that something needs to be called out, something needs to be changed," Dr. Megerian said.

Since its inception, Cliff's Notes: A UH Book Club has had more than 3,500 book checkouts, with a 44% increase from 2022 to 2023, and participants have read dozens of books. For two features — "Strategy That Works" by Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi and "Dream Town" by Laura Mecker — the authors spoke to book club participants. 

In addition to reading books, at least four former and current health system CEOs have published books in recent months. That list includes Eugene Woods, CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based Advocate Health, who wrote about the behind-the-scenes work of one of the country's largest health systems.

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