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Measuring Mission

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 13, 2012
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Chris Van Gorder
President and CEO, Scripps Health, San Diego

No margin, no mission: One metric we have to look at is, "Are we viable as a business?" If we aren't viable as a business, we can't help anyone. Are we generating a margin sufficient to meet our mission? Sometimes we have to make tough decisions that allow us to remain viable going forward as a business, meeting the mission. I worked in religious-based hospitals, and I remember one sister being very straight with me and saying, 'Look, we understand. We are sisters, not suckers. No margin, no mission.' They recognized, even though they are very community-focused, that they had to make a margin.

The social mission:  There is the broader piece of the mission statement that in our case talks about superior healthcare services in a caring environment. Every three years we get together with the other providers in our community to do a needs assessment and identify the health risks and the areas where we ought to be focusing our community services and sometimes our hospital services. Socially responsible healthcare services are more subjective. We advance clinical research, educational positions, and graduate medical education.

The water cooler measure:  The employees and the doctors are a good thermometer on whether or not they believe we are meeting the patients' and the community's needs. Most of our doctors and employees don't monitor the balance sheet, but they interface with our patients every single day. I know that I'd be getting pushback and negative comments from employees and physicians if they felt we were moving too far on the business side and just focused on generating a profit.


This article appears in the January 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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