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Great Enough?

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When can a hospital truly call itself a great hospital? As with many designations in life, the answer depends on whom you ask. So we asked our advisory board members and others in the industry whose opinion we value to tell us what the principles of hospital greatness might be.

Part of the problem is that no one source designates hospitals as being top performers. You can pick any measure of a hospital’s performance—from satisfaction levels to patient safety initiatives—and there will be a specific set of metrics that designate excellence. Basically the healthcare performance evaluation system in this country looks more like a collection of Boy Scout merit badges than an apples-to-apples system of designating great overall hospitals from the pack. Just because a hospital is a top performer in one particular area does not necessarily translate into other components of the hospital stay.

There are 5,786 hospitals in the United States, according to the American Hospital Association. Not all of them have the capacity to be one of the top performers in the industry, whether because of the resources they have or the types of patients they have to treat. But what we hope to share in our cover story, “What All Great Hospitals Do,” on page 24, is that there are some principles of excellence that even the smallest, troubled hospital can use. No matter what their mission or position, hospitals can share, or innovate, or create a culture of professionalism. They can have a dedication to setting goals for improvement no matter how low their starting point is. Ultimately what is perhaps most important is that if hospitals simply concentrate on doing what is right for the patient, the results will take care of themselves.

New addition: In the past, we have called one of the main sections of the magazine our “management” section. In this issue, we are renaming it the “leadership” section. That may sound like a subtle distinction, but it reflects our belief that most of our readers are already pretty skilled at management, but want to know more about how to lead. To take charge of this renewed focus, we are excited to welcome our new leadership editor, Molly Rowe. She will explore some of the big questions about strategy, governance, quality, marketing, staffing and relationships with employees, physicians and patients. Molly will also be launching a new weekly leadership e-newsletter, which will offer more insight on these subjects than can fit in the pages of the magazine. Molly comes to HealthLeaders Media from the quality and patient safety group of our parent company, HCPro. Molly is always eager to learn about your most pressing leadership challenges and how you are solving them, so send her your thoughts at mrowe@healthleadersmedia.com.

Jim Molpus
Editor
jmolpus@healthleadersmedia.com