7 Lessons from AHA's Leadership Summit

Cheryl Clark, July 21, 2011

I got to spend a few days away from the desk this week to blitz through the American Hospital Association's Leadership Summit in San Diego.

The weather was an agreeable 70 degrees, and there may have been a disproportionate number of attendees seeking relief from the heat dome under which much of the country is withering. But the sessions served up a buffet of ideas about what healthcare leaders are thinking. So here's a sampling from some of the tracks that I thought were especially provocative.

1. Physicians should be friends and partners

The AHA on Tuesday took what president and CEO Rich Umbdenstock described as the "first step" toward building a structure to collaborate with physicians. And to introduce the concept, the AHA invited some physician leaders to a sunrise breakfast. The idea is that hospital executives need to find common ground to work with doctors and their practice groups to integrate, which of course is the magic word these days.

After all, he said, there's clearly a trend. For example, "65% of the members of the American College of Cardiology are now employed. We're going to be more integrated, more at risk, and more accountable, but we have a long way to go. We have a lot of work to do together," he said.

William Jessee, MD, outgoing president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association, added that it will take a cultural transformation to get 25 groups of five doctors to "behave like a group of 125....There's a reason why there were 25 groups of five." And the task won't be easy, Jessee said. "It's going to be challenging and painful."


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