Health execs offer advice on leadership, ACOs

In one of the most dynamic eras ever for healthcare in the United States, many health executives wonder what skills they need to lead their organizations in general and accountable care organizations (ACOs) in particular.

The most important part of a CEO's job is "making sure the culture of the organization supports the mission, vision and values and, accordingly, the strategic initiatives," Dennis Knox, CEO of Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California, told Becker's Hospital Review. Moreover, Knox said, a CEO must analyze factors that pull the organization in different directions and prioritize effectively.

Creating the right environment for quality care and outcomes is also a major part of effective leadership, the executives said. "The answers to so many of the challenges we face in healthcare are right here--and my role is to provide an environment where those answers can be found and future innovations can flourish," said Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., president of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital in Boston.

Leading an ACO has its own set of challenges, Lynn Barr, founder of Nevada City, California's National Rural ACO, told Becker's in a second article. "There aren't enough hours in the day and three years goes by in the blink of an eye," she said. It is also hard to gain the trust of the physicians, who are often over-burdened. Another pitfall ACO leaders should avoid is prioritizing financial performance over clinical transformation, added Aric Sharp, vice president of Des Moines, Iowa-based UnityPoint Health Partners.

Healthcare leaders can look to several proven strategies, including thinking outside of conventional wisdom, leading frontline staff by example and emphasizing long-term strategies, to oversee their organizations, FierceHealthcare previously reported. In March, Nicholas R. Tejada, CEO of Doctors Hospital of Manteca (California) told FierceHealthcare about several strategies for young executives, including good communication and an eye on both the past and the future.

To learn more:
- read the first Becker's article
- here's the second