A Pennsylvania health system CEO says physicians need to be partners in strategy, but to be effective, they may need to go back to school.
When Reading Health System CEO Clint Matthews signed on as CEO seven years ago, he quickly realized the Pennsylvania system’s medical staff was one of the best he’d ever worked with. But as a group, they had one glaring deficiency: There no pathway to develop them as future leaders.
Many health systems recognize that their future leaders increasingly need to come from the clinical arena.
As decision-makers on how illness is treated, physicians wield the power of the pen, and it’s increasingly important to show them how that power affects the hospital or health system as a business.
Physicians need to be partners in change management, and they need to learn how to work together. Further, as boards and current occupants of the c-suite look to put physicians in leadership roles, they’re discovering the same deficiency Matthews noticed: a lack of training in leadership skills, business acumen, and change management.
“We feel physicians need to be a partner and they need to be leaders—advocates for the change that is necessary in order to manage patients over a continuum rather than episodes of care,” Matthews says.
A Tumultuous Time
Reading Health System launched the Applied Physician Leadership Academy about two years ago with its partner, The Leadership Development Group. The first group of physician leaders graduated from the 18-month program in April.
Another group of 26 physicians, whose program overlapped with the first, is in session now.
Matthews says the program is already paying off by fostering an esprit de corps in the system’s 680-physician clinically integrated network, which includes affiliated physicians as well as the 525 who are employees.
Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.