What Did You Take Away from the People in Healthcare Conference?

As I sifted through my notes and reflected on the sessions I attended at the People in Healthcare Conference in San Diego, I couldn’t help but think there was a lot of great data, information and best practices, and so I wanted to share my thoughts with the healthcare community. Here are the five overarching themes I observed:

1. Leadership During a Transformational, Yet Unknown Time

  • What a way to kick off the conference. Mark Herzog, President & CEO, Holy Family Memorial, did a great job challenging us all to think about the “2nd Curve” of leadership – I think we can all agree we have significant opportunities ahead for our organizations:
    • What will be our new employment strategies?
    • How do we attract new talent?
    • What will our balance sheet look like in coming years with reform modifications?
    • One of the biggest challenges we face will be putting our people and leaders in positions to be successful, as well as truly understanding whether or not we have the leaders to lead our organizations over what some consider the most important time in healthcare.

2. Employee Engagement is Here and Knowing How It Impacts Your Business is Key

  • This may have been the most widely used phrase during our three days together. The concept is simple – when people have a great time at work and love what they do, they stay, they perform and they impact business in more ways than we can quantify. However, the moment we take our eye off of the importance of this topic, we have already lost. One emerging trend spoken about many times was the impact of ongoing pulse surveys (think traditional engagement surveys, more frequent and shorter in length) and allowing team members to give more recommendations, rather than just being forced to answer on a 1-5 scale.
  • We have seen other industries adopt these strategies as well, so it will be interesting to see how next year’s sessions share best practices in this arena. Specifically, I am interested to see how these strategies and tactics help organizations move the needle forward.

3. The Generational Impact We Are Seeing Across Healthcare 

  • There was a lot of discussion, questions, thoughts and even more thoughts around this topic. Full disclosure, I am a Millennial. However, I have been fortunate enough to work for, with and be led by individuals from all generations who have greatly impacted me both professionally and personally. One of my peers and dear colleagues, Dr. Kim Turnage, wrote a series of blogs on Millennials that has continually fascinated me. Our discussion made me recall the data she presented on this popular topic. I encourage you to check out her blog series. Some interesting anecdotes no doubt, especially as we think about the next 10 years of leaders in our organizations.

4. How are we showing the impact of our HR/Talent Strategy to our executive teams?

  • Lori Knowles, Vice President Human Resources, Memorial Hermann Health System, addressed this in the first 10 minutes of her presentation – if you don’t get your CFO/Operations leader on board, good luck. What a great depiction of how to engage senior leaders, identify a common mission, determine common outcomes and give everyone skin in the game. This gives everyone an opportunity to truly impact the future of their organization.
  • Another fascinating area was understanding what metrics matter to organizations and how to track those impactful data points. It is true that one size does not fit all, but knowing OUR size will absolutely make us better and more metric driven moving forward.

5. Are we selecting the right talent and then developing that talent?

  • We saw multiple models from Baylor Scott & White Healthcare, Mercy and a host of others highlighting solutions they have implemented to help them select and develop the best teams to execute their strategies. Peter Drucker first said (I am paraphrasing), “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.” This got me thinking about the above engagement topic. Can we align the two? Can we create an environment in which “Culture Cultivates ( Leads or Steers) Strategy?”
  • I challenge all of us to think differently in our respective organizations about how we can impact the future by selecting the right people, investing in them in a continuous model and allowing them to grow with us.

Thank you for the investment you made by attending People in Healthcare last week and for reading my thoughts. I would enjoy, too, hearing the themes you saw emerge.

Wishing you all of the best in 2017 and I look forward to seeing you next year.

Mitch Rodgers

Senior Business Consultant


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