Skill #2: A strong awareness of organizational goals, position
DeChant believes that crucial healthcare leadership skills aren’t completely centered in professional background, but also in mindset. “Right now, things are so uncertain that leaders need to develop organizations that can have the ability and agility to rapidly respond to changing external conditions and have the courage to take actions as they are indicated,” he says. “Those are key business skills anyone in [a healthcare leadership position] needs to have.”
One example of the importance of organizational awareness is appropriately navigating the growing trend of mergers and acquisitions. Managed care leaders must be well-versed in negotiating, and possibly creating larger market shares. DeChant warns that expansion must be carried out in an exacted and careful manner. “If you have an operation that is managed in a mediocre manner to start with and you acquire another operation, now you have two mediocre managed operations, so you don’t give society a benefit. It’s really important as organizations combine that they focus on ensuring they have the best possible management system across the entire enterprise.”
Another example of the importance of organizational awareness relates to understanding how healthcare reform (and how a potential ACA repeal) could affect the organization.
Angood points out that many large purchasers of health insurance are withdrawing from offering strong benefits for their workforce, which could result—alongside changes to government benefit programs—in a higher percentage of individuals without insurance coverage. He notes this could be a challenge for provider organizations. “It’s uncertain where the financial models are going to come into place and the compensation strategies for both institutions and individuals,” he says. “That’s going to create a large challenge for leadership and management, and how to stay healthy during that downturn in compensation.” Leaders at provider organizations must prepare for these challenges by sharpening their skills for negotiating reasonable contracts with payers and by making sure they have a strong financial team in place with a nimble chief financial officer, he says.