by John G. Hill, president and CEO
Jennifer and I have recently experienced one of those parenting moments that only comes once, when your oldest child embarks on their senior year in high school. Yes, we have talked about the future all through our son’s last four years of high school. Since his junior year, we began more serious discussions about education, career interests, in-state or out-of-state schools, missionary service, volunteering, working during college and of course, who is going to pay for it all? But nothing sharpens your focus like the start of their senior year of high school. We recently posed the big question with a bit more urgency.
“So, what is your plan for the future, son?”
A similar question recently rang in my ears when a senior member of our medical staff described the uncertainty of healthcare reform and how it will impact physicians and hospitals. In an innocent and humble way, the question came pretty directly.
“So, what is your plan for the future of this hospital with all that is going on?”
That is a question that I am asked routinely, and the answers flow easily. We will continue to focus and improve the quality of care delivered in our facility. We need to continue to align with physicians, contain costs and improve the efficiency of our delivery of care processes. Develop and grow a dynamic work force is a must. Additionally, it is requisite to work with state and federal lawmakers to clarify healthcare reform laws that still seem vague and unrealistic. And yes, there is still the question of who is going to pay for it all?
A few days later and in the typical passing and nonchalant manner that only teenagers have perfected, my son stated, “I think I might want to go into healthcare. My grades are pretty good and I like science so maybe I will be a doctor or maybe something else in a hospital.”
I must admit, his announcement made me feel good both as a parent and as a healthcare professional.
But then he asked, “So what do you think the future of healthcare is going to be, Dad?” He added, “Do you think it is a good choice?”
The very answers that so easily flow when asked by physicians, hospital leaders, business and community leaders and politicians, seemed more difficult to come by. Not to mention, my wife’s raised eyebrows and facial expression added to the pressure of the moment.
After a big sigh I managed a, “Well, here is what I think.”
I told my son that people will continue to get sick and they will need compassionate and competent healthcare professionals to care for them. Healthcare will need people with a passion for caring for others. I am not sure how the economics will work and how much hospitals or doctors will get paid. I do know that all providers will need to find a way to lower costs, increase value and meet the increasing expectations of patients and families. Effective and dynamic leadership will become increasingly important for both physicians and hospital administrators. Most importantly, innovation and creativity will be required for future healthcare leaders to have sustainable success as we enter a new era of healthcare in the United States. Above all else, caring for the healthcare needs of people, even healing them or saving lives is a noble and rewarding career choice and it will remain so well into the future.
Our challenge today as leaders is to continue the pursuit of perfecting how we care for others. Uncertainty abounds, questions about healthcare reform remain unanswered, political winds continue to swirl and economic pressures remain strong. But this we know, our efforts today will shape the future of the delivery of healthcare in our facility, the community, our state and even nationally.
I invite you to provide your opinions and ideas on how to meet the changing demands that we must get in front of to enjoy future success. Our strategic planning process is open to physicians, staff and all members of our organization. We are anxiously engaged in developing our 2011 business plan and refining our three year strategic plan. The key to our success will be a transparent and honest dialogue about changes that need to be made now in our facility. Our patients and future healthcare providers, even a few high school seniors, are counting on us to steadily move to a sustainable solution to improve and care for human life in the best possible way.