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Three By Three: The Three Critical Success Factors in Healthcare

Three By Three: The Three Critical Success Factors in Healthcare

In a recent meeting, several people in the audience asked me what are the basis things that they should know and remember that will assist them in being successful in their leadership roles in the ever increasing complex healthcare industry? Knowing that one should keep the solutions, even to complex problems, as simple as possible if they are to be successful and sustainable, I answered by saying there are three critical areas that demand attention and each area has three critical success factors….hence the three by three title for this blog.

The first is Organization Success. If the organization is functioning well in regards to operations and strategic planning it should stay on a positive course. But the most important three critical success factors to assure that the organizational will remain vibrant as the future unfolds include:

1. Excellence in Governance. The Board must be populated by a group of people who support the principles that drive excellence in governance. They should understand the difference between the roles and responsibilities of governance and management, overseeing the operations, strategic direction, and fiduciary metrics, setting goals for themselves that parallel the CEO’s and Leadership Team’s goals, and assure they have the competencies that are necessary to collectively bring the best thinking to the issues that the organization is facing.

2. Highly Competent Leadership Team. Successful leaders today have the competences that are required, including those required for excellence in change management, teaming, operational focus, strategic and visionary thinking, good listening skill, and superior verbal and written communicator. In addition, leaders must be committed to their work individually and collectively. And finally, they must have a high level of passion for what they do that must not only motivate them to continuously improve, but also motivate the people who are following them.

3. Strong Physician Integration. Since the physicians, whether independent, contracted, or employed, drive the value equation with regard to the quality outcomes, service delivery metrics, and cost of supply and staff they require, they must become partners with administration to actively design and implement solutions to the challenges their practices or their hospitals are coping with at this moment in time.

The second is Leadership Success. The three critical success factors for leaders today, whether they are in the C-Suite, Directors, Managers, or Supervisors, and whether they are physicians or administrators are:

1. Competent. Every leader should periodically do a self-assessment of his or her competencies that are required to complete successfully their performance goals. If they have a “competency void”, he or she must determine how to fill that void, i.e. through education or coaching and mentoring.

2. Committed. A successful leader must be fully committed to the challenging work they are facing, and totally embrace an accountability matrix which defines the timeline for completion, as well as, the metrics of success. But recognizing they cannot be successful alone, they must be committed to and strongly support the team’s directions.

3. Passion. The work of healthcare leaders today is undoubtedly more difficult and challenging than it was in the past. The endurance required to succeed today must be driven and sustained by a passion for the “sacred work” that is done each day in caring for people’s lives that are fully entrusted to them.

And, the third is Strategic Success. In order for the roadmap into the future to be driven by the appropriate strategies and tactics, strategy must be built on three critical success factors. These are:

1. Collaboration versus continuing competition. The competitive model has driven an excess capacity of beds and healthcare services in most areas of the country. Since the ability to generate more revenue is limited to organically growing areas, most leaders must now decide with whom they are going to cooperate in order to start rightsizing their collective programs to meet the needs of the community. This is the only way the overuse of diagnostic and treatment modalities will be corrected. If done so effectively, a good portion of the healthcare excessive cost structure will be controlled.

2. Alignment of Incentives. Sustainable solutions for the healthcare challenges of today must embrace as much win-win as possible for all the stakeholders. If the solutions are seen as equitable, both from the reward and sacrifice standpoint then, and only then, will they be successful in moving the industry forward.

3. Accountability. Successful roadmaps to the future, if only designed and recorded, will never be successful unless they are fully implemented. This requires an accountability matrix, which lists each tactic, the tools and processes, the expected timeline for completion, the responsible person or team, and, most importantly, the metrics for success. This accountability “spreadsheet” must be reviewed on a regular basis by both the leadership team and the Board to assure that what one is expected to get done, is getting done!

There is no doubt that the work facing healthcare leaders today is more complex and challenging than ever. However, by remembering the three by three critical success areas and each of their three critical success factors, the journey into the future might seem less daunting and, in fact, extremely possible.