Living Like a Leader: A day with Adventist Health Southern California Regional President Andrew Jahn

Jahn_Andrew.jpg"I'm firm believer that as leaders, there's certain work that we need to be in the driver's seat conducting. We can't delegate all of it."

When balancing smart growth, clinical objectives, and complex payer dynamics, there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day for healthcare executives to address the diverse set of organizational goals they are tasked with accomplishing.

However, leaders succeed despite these challenges. And they each have their own habits, hacks, styles and methods to do so.

Andrew Jahn was tapped to serve as the president of Roseville, Calif.-based Adventist Health's Southern California region in February 2018. He was promoted after proving his leadership skills as CEO of Adventist Health Sonora (Calif.) and its affiliated facilities, including a network of 30 hospital-based rural health clinics.

Before switching gears to operations, Mr. Jahn served as vice president and CFO at Adventist Health Sonora and director of finance at Shawnee Mission Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Mr. Jahn took the time to speak with Becker's Hospital Review for our "Living like a leader" series, which examines the daily routines of influential decision-makers to offer readers an idea of how they manage their energy, teams and time.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What's the first thing you do when you wake up?

Andrew Jahn: I'm an early riser. When I first wake up, I spend five to seven minutes connecting to purpose every morning. Those minutes are my meditation and prayer time. From there, I go running, or biking for about an hour.  When the days are short, I sometimes have to race my wife for the treadmill.

Then its off to the races with our busy family, which is comprised of my wife and five children — four boys and a baby girl ages 2 to 14. The boys get up early. They'll usually do homework or play legos and complete their chores first thing. Breakfast is at 6:30 a.m. and all the kids are out the door at 7:15 a.m. I try to take the kids to school at least one day a week. Sometimes it's two days a week and once and a while we’ll make a special stop for doughnuts on the way. 

Q: Do you do any work before getting into the office? What about at night?

AJ: I might prepare for a presentation or respond to a pressing matter for a board member. I used to craft emails and send text messages early in the morning, but I've shifted that routine. Sometimes it freaks people out when they get an email or a text from the boss before 5:00 a.m. I have decided that being up that early is my schedule, but it isn't and doesn't have to be theirs.

With my large family, in the evenings there is always a demand for things like medical staff appointments, dinners or events, so I don't respond to emails very often in the evening. In fact, I'm more often doing wrap-up phone calls in the car during my commute. I have designed my commute to be productive.

Q: What is the first thing you do when you arrive at work?

AJ: I usually spend the first 5 min with my assistant running through the day’s schedule. I try not to take more than five hours a day of scheduled meetings so I have the flexibility to address issues that come up or work on other priorities. There's a big difference between sitting in a meeting and getting work done. I found that if I allow myself to get bogged down in meetings, I don't leave any capacity or time to be creative and drive the organization forward. I tell everybody on my team, "Don't confuse sending emails or sitting in a meeting with getting work done." What's the deliverable? What's the outcome? How do we measure success?

Also, I'm a firm believer that as leaders, there's certain work that we need to be in the driver's seat conducting. We can't delegate all of it.

Q: What is an example of work you can't delegate?

AJ: A big piece of my responsibility is outside of the organization. LA is one of the most disjointed healthcare delivery systems in the country. In most major cities, there's one or two health systems that have a significant share of the market. San Diego is the perfect example. You've got Sharp Healthcare and Scripps Healthcare. They run that town. In LA there's no single health system with more than 10 percent of inpatient market share. It's about 30 health systems and 180 hospitals. Adventist Health sees an opportunity to help drive value in this market by being a convener and bringing some alignment to care delivery. That said, I spend a lot of my time working with standalone community hospitals and other health systems to figure out where we can work together to deliver a better product.

Q: Is there anything about your office setup that is unique?

AJ: We don't have many walls. We have some glass doors and partitions, but no walls. My predecessor gets credit for how the space was designed. I like it because it allows more face-to-face communication. I can just look over and see, "Oh yeah, my CMO is in his office." Then I can walk over there and chat with him about something important.

Q: How much of your time is spent with direct reports?

AJ: Probably not enough. My check-ins are frequently a quick text message or a short phone call. Beyond that, I do a monthly one-on-one.  I try not to fill my calendar with status meetings with direct reports. I tend to insist they live in the moment and I do my best to live in the moment as well. So, if there's something that's pressing, one of the reasons I don't fill my calendar with meetings is so I have the ability and latitude to respond, react and be available. That means my team can pop into my office for a 10-minute meeting if needed. The one-hour meeting was the cultural norm for a long time. But we don't need to schedule an hour on my calendar a month from now. There's so much you can get done if you live in the moment, have a brief phone call, a text message or 10-minute debrief when necessary.

Q: How often do you perform rounds?

JA: It's something I do weekly. I also do a monthly operating review that includes my clinical team, my operations team and my finance team. That's a face-to-face meeting at each facility once a month. But weekly, I'll be in one of our hospital locations, walking the halls.  It’s a habit I picked up when I was. Hospital CEO.  We're big on rounding and accountability. We even require all senior leaders to round on patients. We've seen that that creates a connection that allows leaders to address problems proactively. It creates visibility and a profile for our leadership team that helps us be more responsive and nimble.

Q: How do you think your routine differs from that of other executives?

AJ: Something that affects my calendar every week are the responsibilities I have as a father. My boys are into every sport you can imagine. My schedule revolves around work and keeping our family connected.  So, while my wife does not count on me to transport the kids, I do ensure I make it to at least two of their games or practices per week. So, each week, one of my kids gets priority and we take turns.  That gives me a chance to stay plugged into what the kids are working on, and it allows me to be a dad. And quite honestly, our number one priority is raising our children with Christian Values so they can be contributing members of society who can add value. We are very intentional about raising our kids with Christian values. That is a hands-on game. It's not something I can zone in and out of. There are times where I forgo a potentially important appointments so that I can make a family commitment. I encourage the other executives I work with to prioritize their time the same.

Q: What makes your team in LA unique?

AJ: The sense of purpose and camaraderie that comes from doing something that matters.  I think it stems from our faith-based mission. That requires a special commitment, particularly in a market where there are so many other healthcare facilities and healthcare opportunities.

One of the unique things, that impresses me is the longevity and the staying power of my team. I think that's because they feel passionate about the mission of the organization. I have a CEO that's been in the LA market as part of Adventist Healthcare for 25 years. I have another that's been here for 30 years. I have another that's worked her entire career in faith-based healthcare. I think there is a uniqueness about that, and it makes my job incredibly fulfilling. That's different from other organizations, where people may move around a bit more.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your day?

AJ: I work with brilliant people who are at the top of their game. I love it when one of my team members tackles a project that helps us move the needle on our commitment to the community. For example, the CEO at White Memorial Medical Center recognized a large underserved population in East LA. He recognized that the community didn't have access to primary care or a clinic outside the hospital. To solve that, he started a federally qualified health center on the campus of White Memorial. It's not operated by the hospital, so it doesn't roll up into his bottom line. It's not accretive to his book of business, but it created an access point that’s helping people who have very limited resources gain access to primary care. That’s the type of initiative that's not related to meeting an EBITDA target or bottom line but raises the bar for care in the entire community — that's special and exciting.

I'm truly passionate about faith-based healthcare and the opportunity to really lean into our mission and make a difference in the communities we serve. This concept of having a responsibility to invest every dollar that's generated in our organization back into the community to improve health is invigorating, inspiring and worthwhile work.

What is the hardest part of your day?

AJ: We work in an industry that connects with people's lives at critical moments. And 99.999 percent of the time, everything goes well. However, some of those critical moments — that .001 percent of the time when things don't go well — can be heartbreaking. It's devastating when something doesn't come out the way we expect.  Sometimes it's just as devastating when it is the outcome we expect and it's just the inevitable. 

Q: What's the last thing you do before you leave the office?

AJ: I don't like leaving any loose ends for the next day. Particularly if it's a personnel issue. So, I will usually seek people out and make sure to clear up any misunderstandings. That's the same for the weekend. I try hard to make sure nothing is left sitting or stewing over the weekend.

Q: How do you unwind at the end of the day?

AJ: I asked my wife about this question and she just laughed…  Our evenings in our home are as charged as our mornings.  Dinner, homework, baths, showers, piano, science projects, family worship, lights out, stories and snuggles — unwinding at the end of the day in our house is a cross between a well conducted orchestra and a game of wack-a-mole. But when the lights go out and everyone is tucked in tight there are times, I have to pinch myself to believe it's all real.  I am so fortunate and blessed to live this life, to be surrounded by the people I love, to do meaningful work, to have the opportunity and the platform to make a difference.

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