Leading and Modeling Innovation Amid Disruption

Philip Betbeze, October 27, 2015

Two top CEOs share their philosophies on fostering an environment of entrepreneurship at their organizations.

This article appears in the September 2015 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

While healthcare innovation is alive and well in the United States on the clinical level, innovation in administration and the delivery system has been sorely lacking for decades, says Michael Dowling, president and CEO of the 19-hospital North Shore-LIJ Health System, which has an enviable track record of growth in its traditional acute care offerings, as well as a solid attempt at vertical integration through its owned insurance plan and multiple pre- and postacute care sites.

Over the past decade and a half or so of Dowling's leadership, the health system has grown to 54,000 employees with an operating budget of $7.8 billion, but growth doesn't necessarily reflect innovation, he says. In fact, growth to such a large size has a better chance of inhibiting innovation on the delivery side, which is why Dowling is so focused on making sure he fosters a work environment that encourages innovation and risk-taking.

Unlike deciding whether to acquire a physician practice, an insurance company, or a competitor hospital, a CEO can't develop an innovative culture with his or her signature. It's a softer skill, and the best an organization's top leader can hope to do, according to Dowling, is set the stage.

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Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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