The Must-Read Book List for Healthcare Leaders

Healthcare leaders are short on time, so a reading list might sound superfluous in the context of your daily grind.

But remember: You didn’t get to where you are without pushing your world view and mastering new ways of thinking.

To that end, here’s a “starter” reading list that will help you continue to grow as a contemporary healthcare leader. I encourage you to add your own suggestion in the comments.

You can click on any of the book images to purchase from

The Healing of America by T.R. Reid

Average Amazon Review: 4.7 out of 5

From Amazon: “Bringing to bear his talent for explaining complex issues in a clear, engaging way, New York Times bestselling author T. R. Reid visits industrialized democracies around the world–France, Britain, Germany, Japan, and beyond–to provide a revelatory tour of successful, affordable universal health care systems. Now updated with new statistics and a plain-English explanation of the 2010 health care reform bill, The Healing of America is required reading for all those hoping to understand the state of health care in our country, and around the world.”

Journey to Excellence by Goonan, Muzikowski, and Stoltz

Average Amazon Review: 4.8 out of 5

From Amazon: “This book is based on several years study of the nine Baldrige Award winners from health care. It describes how these organizations approached their Baldrige journey and what other health care leaders should do to reap similar benefits. To fully understand the journey for these nine organizations and their return on investment, the authors studied each of their 50-page award applications, presentations at national and regional meetings, and other publications by or about them. Additionally and most importantly, CEOs and other senior leaders were interviewed at length. The questions asked of these leaders followed three basic themes: How did you successfully use the Baldrige framework to drive improvement? What would you recommend other organizations do to gain the value you have from a Baldrige journey? What can we learn from you that would help other organizations manage their improvement journeys to maximize the value they gain?”

Hardwiring Excellence by Quint Studer

Average Amazon Review: 4.8 out of 5

From Amazon: “A ‘textbook with passion’, Hardwiring Excellence offers a road map and practical how-to guide for creating and sustaining a culture of service and operational excellence. In this book, author Quint Studer, CEO of Studer Group, draws on his personal experience as a former hospital executive who led two organizations to the top 1% in patient satisfaction and his experience coaching hundreds of healthcare organizations since.”

Empowering Caregivers: A White Paper

Last month I published a synopsis of Modern Healthcare’s “Empowering Caregivers” webinar.

Today I’m re-blogging Modern Healthcare’s official follow-up, a white paper under the same banner:

Empowering Caregivers: To improve care delivery, successful hospitals align people, processes, and technology

Disclosure: Dell sponsored both the webinar and white paper, and I work for Dell.

The Cocktail Party Primer on Paul Ryan and Healthcare

Paul Ryan became a household name when presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced the U.S. Representative from Wisconsin would be his vice presidential running mate. Even though every presidential election has implications for the healthcare industry, 2012 promises the most direct outcomes for healthcare providers, payers, and patients since passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Healthcare leaders are now being asked what his candidacy and potential election means for our industry. This is what you need to know.

Paul Ryan knows healthcare. In fact, he earned the top spot on Modern Healthcare’s 2011 roster for the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare. Since 2001, Ryan has been a member on the House Ways and Means Committee with a specific focus on the United States’ healthcare system and its impact on clinical outcomes and socioeconomic issues.

Paul Ryan has a plan for Medicare and Medicaid. For Medicare, his ideas include:

1)      Repealing the PPACA and the power it affords the federal government to cut Medicare in ways that would threaten seniors’ access to care

2)      Preserving Medicare for current and future generations without disrupting those near retirement

3)      Providing a premium-support payment system for younger workers when they become eligible for Medicare

4)      Instilling competition into Medicare program growth with a competitive-bidding process that would reward providers who reduce costs and improve quality for seniors

5)      Providing guaranteed affordability with premium support, competitive bidding, and more assistance for low-income and less healthy seniors

For Medicaid, his ideas include converting the Medicaid system into a block-grant model that will allow each individual state to customize the program to the specific needs of its unique population volume. His plan for Medicaid is estimated to save $810 billion over 10 years.

Source: Official Website of Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan is polarizing. Whether you believe Ryan spells the end of Medicare as we know it or whether you believe his vision will positively transform healthcare, Paul Ryan has become a lightning rod for his opinions on the role that the federal government plays in the future of healthcare.

This election is one to watch.

How Does Your Hospital Rate? Depends on the Tool.

Is your hospital a 17, a 98, or an A? With the recent growth of hospital ranking tools, the answer could be all of the above.

I recently outlined how to start benchmarking, and today I’m sharing this multimedia HealthLeaders article called “3 Hospital Rating Tools Compared.”

In the article, HealthLeaders profiles the ratings systems utilized by U.S. News & World Report, Consumer Reports, and Leapfrog Group, then demonstrates how specific hospitals rank using each methodology.

From clinical data to safety scores, you might be surprised at how each evaluates ratings.

Empowering Caregivers: A Blog Synopsis

On July 17, Modern Healthcare hosted a webinar called “Empowering Caregivers” that promised to educate listeners about how to optimize technology for better care delivery, provide lessons from health systems that drive physician-led clinical transformation, and lay out organizational changes that will foster collaboration between IT and physician leadership.

The presenters were Dr. Andrew Litt, Chief Medical Officer for Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences, Dr. Charlotte Hovet, Medical Director of Clinical Informatics for Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences, Dr. Michael Dobrovich, Chief Medical Officer at St. John Medical Center in Westlake, OH, and Christine M. Schutte, IS Director at St. John Medical Center.

(Note: Dell sponsored the webinar, and I work for Dell.)

The webinar opened with some sobering statistics:

  • Almost 50% of U.S. healthcare spending is for the care of only 5% of the population
  • Nearly 50% of U.S. healthcare spending—$1.13 trillion—is for the treatment of chronic conditions
  • Medicare is facing the threat of insolvency by 2017
  • Provider reform/value-based purchasing is not going away

The HITECH Act, Meaningful Use, and the PPACA are driving healthcare toward measurement and transparency, value-based purchasing, bundled payments, ACOs, and better outcomes, such as greater care coordination and improved population and public health.

To achieve these lofty goals, contemporary healthcare leaders must address an inherent dichotomy that exists between present and future realities:

  • We currently pay for volume and need to pay for value
  • Fee for service needs to transition to bundled payments
  • Physician-oriented workflows need to re-center around the patient

A cornerstone of this transformation will be information-driven healthcare and an organizational culture shift toward true clinical integration: “Physicians working together systematically, with or without other organizations and professionals, to improve their collective ability to deliver high quality, safe, and valued care to their patients and communities. (Source)”

One example of a hospital that is well on its way toward bridging this gap is St. John Medical Center, a full-service community hospital with 182 beds and 540 active medical staff.

St. John’s leadership team approached clinical transformation not as an IT initiative, but as a partnership between IT and end users.* As a critical first step, St. John’s governance board and hospital administration team achieved consensus and committed to the transformation. The second key step was a call to action that involved engaging St. John’s medical staff and medical executive committee. The hospital created a roadmap to convert to an EHR by February 2013, and they understood that clinical transformation would be a continuous change in culture, not an epiphanic moment in time.

St. John shared some of their successes and lessons learned to-date:

Even though I usually write about the revenue cycle, today I wanted to offer perspective on the holistic healthcare landscape. Most of us already know that hospitals operate on low margins, that 1 in 3 physicians are likely to quit over the next 10 years, and that broad uncertainties such as Medicaid reimbursement and the Sustainable Growth Rate threaten providers.

That being said, I’m given hope by the fact that so many intelligent healthcare leaders are investing tremendous effort to find creative ways of curbing the rising cost of delivering healthcare and reversing the unsustainable shrinkage of reimbursement.

*Perspectives vary on the role IT plays in clinical transformation. During his time as Executive Vice President with Perot Systems, Dr. Kevin Fickenscher outlined a different IT approach in “Changing Healthcare Through Clinical Transformation.” It’s worth a read.

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