Master Your Craft

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Lead in the health care marketplace with innovation, technology, and goal setting.

By Swathi Young, CEO, Technotch Solutions*

The U.S. health care industry is growing at an exponential rate and is projected to reach $5.5 trillion by 2025, according to a report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS). Physician and clinical services constitute over 20 percent of this projection.1 This leads to an important question: Does this economic growth indicate improvement in the quality of patient care?

Today’s health care providers are challenged with the increased complexity of the health care industry. They have to strike a fine balance between practicing their working knowledge and keeping up to date with other skills like finance, team management, self-assessment, and technology innovation. Once this balance is achieved, they can become effective leaders in the health care marketplace.

Leadership involves multiple aspects, the most important being the leader’s ability to convey their vision and strategy to their team. Effective leaders are able to adopt innovative techniques, resources, and technologies to achieve their vision.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, says, “Level five leaders are disciplined in actions and thought, building enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of humility and professional will.”2 Here are three ways that health care providers can enhance their leadership skills:

INNOVATION

With the magnitude of change in health care, it is crucial to keep pace and manage among competing priorities. Not only are there changes in health care delivery but also in the reimbursement, retail, and technology sectors. Innovation is a great way to stay ahead of the curve and increase both the quantity and quality of health care.

Following a step-by-step process to foster innovation is key:

  1. Identify a crucial problem that can improve patient care.
  2. Brainstorm multiple ideas to resolve this problem (research ideas to adopt from other industries like retail, nonprofits, or manufacturing).
  3. Bring people together to get divergent ideas.
  4. Create a simple prototype.
  5. Test these ideas on a small scale before adopting them completely to reduce waste of time and money.

For example, the phone rarely rings at a physician family practice of two doctors in Utah. Patients book appointments using an offline call center; a medical assistant assists them upon arrival and escorts them throughout the visit. Doctors fill in the electronic medical record (EMR) system using a predefined template (a time saver), and the doctors are in touch with the patients via email. This has been proven effective in reducing the patient cycle time, increasing clinician–patient interaction, and creating satisfied patients.

TECHNOLOGY

Physician leaders are increasingly realizing the value of information technology and learning how to keep pace with the evolving technology. While larger hospitals have more resources to buy large and integrated software, keeping in mind the fundamentals of using technology for your goals will help you in the long run.

Apart from traditional use cases of electronic health records and scheduling systems, you can also look at newer smartphone initiatives. These may include patient engagement, health monitoring using wearable devices, or incorporating patient feedback from online platforms.

Add to this the new cases of emerging technologies, where patients can use technology for self-diagnosis in nonthreatening medical conditions. For example, smartphone apps to monitor blood glucose levels or cardiac irregularities have already arrived and are in use by patients, as well as debatable solutions like patient care via video and telemedicine.

It is important not to get carried away with the noise of these emerging technologies but to look at what is applicable to your practice and would help in aligning and realizing your goals.

GOALS AND STRATEGY

For physical therapists aiming to enhance their leadership skills, clarity of purpose is the number one priority to consider. Examine your commitment and drive to make changes in health care and use those changes to enhance your practice. You should then communicate with clarity the strategy to execute on this vision. Forecasting, goal setting, project planning, and change management are some of the skills essential to execute your vision.

Other skills that are required to help you in realizing your vision are related to emotional intelligence. In his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Daniel Goleman says, “Emotional intelligence relates to how well we can handle ourselves in our relationships in five domains: self-awareness, managing emotions, self-motivation, empathy, and handling relationships.”3

Wide-ranging methods are available to enhance your emotional intelligence, both self-created and external. Today, we are fortunate to have access to trainings in various formats like audio, video, and text. You can choose your method based on the factors that drive results for you.

In conclusion, in order for health care providers to keep pace with growing demands, it is imperative that they take up leadership roles, utilizing the important leadership skills of innovation, technology, and goal setting. These will empower you to be a master of your craft and create a name in the ever-crowded health care marketplace. Although these skills are not inherent, they can be easily learned by enrolling in a program, attending conferences and events, and following influencers in the field.

References

1 www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/nhe-fact-sheet.html. Accessed February 2018.

2 Collins, J. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t. HarperCollins; 2001.

3 Goleman, D. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Bantam Books; 2006.

Swathi Young is the founder and chief executive officer of Technotch Solutions and a digital product innovation expert. She has held leadership positions at Amtrak, SunGard, GE, Oracle, and other companies. You can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter. She can be reached at swathis@technotchsolutions.com.

*The author has a vested interest in the subject of this article.

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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