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Effecting Change

Edward Prewitt, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2013
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This article appears in the December issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

For the seventh straight year, our editorial staff has chosen the HealthLeaders 20: people who are making a difference in healthcare. The mini-profiles in this issue—with longer versions on our web site at—offer fascinating insights into the varying segments and perspectives of healthcare. Health system executives such as CEO Douglas Hawthorne of Texas Health Resources and Chairman George Halvorson of Kaiser Permanente seek to transform how hospitals deliver care. Other honorees, such as Nann Worel and Jeffrey Parker, are extending healthcare delivery to people underserved by traditional hospitals. Fred Trotter and David Green work to bring disruptive innovations to healthcare delivery.

Some HealthLeaders 20 honorees, like James Merlino, MD, and Laurent Gueris, focus on the patient experience. Brad Stuart, MD, and Kristine Aznavoorian, RN, are driven by a desire to help patients at critical moments. Still others, such as Harlan Krumholz, MD, and Martin Makary, MD, seek to ensure that healthcare "does no harm."

Transparency is a theme among this year's honorees, but they use the term in quite different ways. Makary, author of Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won't Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care, crusades against hospital errors. Charles Ornstein successfully pushed for open data on healthcare quality and cost. CEO Steven Sonenreich of Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Fla., wants to shine a light on medical pricing.

In one way or another, all of the HealthLeaders 20 seek changes in healthcare. But change is difficult. In this issue's Council Connection section, which draws on the 7,000-member HealthLeaders Media Council, Senior Editor John Commins asks leaders about how to achieve cultural change. "Changing culture involves changing everything in your organization. It involves looking at every process and opportunity for communication," says Jeffrey M. Fried, president and CEO of Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Del.

Yet change in healthcare is inevitable. Along with several other HealthLeaders editors, I recently had the pleasure of joining nearly 40 top healthcare leaders at our annual, invitation-only CEO Exchange. Over two days of small-group discussion, the attendees talked about how they're facing down the many challenges in healthcare today: the shifts in the basics of healthcare delivery forced by business model transformation; how hospitals and healthcare systems can take on risk prudently as reimbursements shift to pay-for-performance; and strategies for making meaningful, sustainable cost reductions in healthcare operations to protect margins and fuel growth.

In the coming weeks, we will publish digital reports of these insightful discussions on our website. Look to HealthLeaders Media to find out where healthcare is headed.

This article appears in the December issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Edward Prewitt is the Editorial Director of HealthLeaders Media.