5 ways CEOs can actually change hospital culture

Hospital CEOs should focus less on talking about an organization's culture and more on the elements that make up a hospital's culture, such as mindset, methods, strategies and structures, former physician John Kenagy, M.D., founder of Kenagy & Associates, told Becker's Hospital Review.

Health system leaders must develop adaptive concepts that support and foster a culture that can go with the flow and respond quickly to change, Kenagy said. Organizations can adapt to disruptive innovations from competitors, depending on how hospital leaders and cultures respond, which requires change-management skills.

Organization leaders must implement structures and process that empower front-line workers to make decisions on how to improve their work, which allows them to create value for the hospital, Kenagy said. Although it breaks from the traditional management model where decision-making is sent up the chain to the bosses, it allows the most informed people whom the decision will impact most to have a direct effect on the system, according to the article.

Kenagy said there are five successful actions of adaptive leaders, who can best align rapid front-line decision-making within employees' ranks:  

  1. Sets clear direction. Voice a clear vision of ideal patient care--lower costs, increase in care quality and better population health. This makes employees respond and improve when care isn't ideal, Kenagy said.

  2. Treat people as your best resource. "It's the organization's ability to increase the adaptive capacity of the people and aligning those behaviors to a common purpose that leads to success," Kenagy told Becker's.

  3. Build trust. Celebrate employee ideas that result in better care and treat failures as learning opportunities. This will make employees feel safe and open to vocalize ideas and concerns.

  4. Problem-solve flawed processes. Challenge employees to change and employ processes that will propel the hospital toward ideal patient care.

  5. Grow relentlessly. "Good managers marshal their forces when the organization stalls. Great managers opportunistically and relentlessly challenge the status quo," Kenagy told Becker's.

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- here's the article