Leadership in Changing Times

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Sheryl Jackson HeadshotBy Sheryl Jackson 

Change—verb. (used with object), changed, changing.

1. To make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.

2. To transform or convert.

The healthcare industry is experiencing change at a rate faster than any other time in American history. As we look at some high level ways that our healthcare landscape is experiencing this (r)evolution, let’s consider how these changes touch our lives personally and also reflect on how we are professionally leading our teams through this period of rapid change.

The healthcare leader today: Healthcare administrators serve in a highly dynamic and competitive environment where staffing challenges and narrow margins are already a reality.  They are challenged to remain focused on delivering differentiated, high quality, affordable, personalized, accessible, and compassionate care while ensuring delight in the patient experience.  Founder of Hospital Corporation of America, the legendary Dr. Thomas F. Frist, Sr. frequently stated, “Bettering the human condition is the greatest good any individual can achieve.”1 We would do well to keep this in mind as we are reminded of our calling to leadership positions within our profession and address the onslaught of business challenges.

The swell in demand: As we look to the horizon, we see the demand wave of healthcare services swell as a large segment of our population is aging and living longer accompanied by the scientific achievements of improved life expectancies.

“CMS determines CT scans are not justified:”  Headlines as recently as April 30, 2014 in Modern Healthcare state: “CMS should not pay for regular CT screenings for heavy smokers, panel says.” The article declares that “a Medicare panel determined that there is not enough evidence to justify annual CT scans to detect early lung cancer in heavy smokers. The CMS’ nine-member Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee voted Wednesday against paying for the screening tool.”

The “nonbinding recommendation runs counter to a December 2013 recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that current or past heavy smokers ages 55 to 80 should get the scans. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the task force’s recommendation means that private insurers are required to cover the screening with no out-of-pocket obligation for their non-Medicare members.”2 This is just one of the many regulatory changes that have been sweeping through the medical imaging community recently.

Innovation and biotechnology: Global healthcare solutions continue to be delivered to us at a rapid pace as we experience the convergence of technologies and emerging successes in innovation, biotechnology, pharmacology, and scientific discoveries. These discoveries are increasing our knowledge and capabilities around disease prevention, early detection, and chronic disease management.

Data and analytics rule the day: Data and analytics measure patient experience, evaluate quality of care, provide patient safety metrics, assess utilization rates, offer proof of compliance, and are driving new payment models. Healthcare leaders, business leaders, and insurance companies are scrambling to understand the impact of government programs and regulations and this new landscape of healthcare in 2014 and beyond. Payers and the self-insured are building their war chests and mitigating risk due to ambiguities and lack a clear view into the overall and unintended impacts of new programs and mandates. Regulators impose radical changes which result in costly compliance for rules that often miss the intended target and frequently fail to assess the unintended impact.

New delivery models and strategic partnerships: New delivery mechanisms have emerged such as kiosk medicine or mobile healthcare, telemedicine, and even personalized or precision medicine based on genotype and gene expression when paired with clinical data. Mergers and acquisitions further secure market share, better manage the health status of the community, and achieve benefits from shared efficiencies.

Driving values: Personally, I love the sustainable truths that facilitate success when we adhere to unshakable core values. The Mayo Clinic demonstrates that when we establish the right values they will endure for years; The Mayo Clinic enjoys a living brand legacy of the same core values on which they were established. Their values transcend over a century while driving a “modern-traditional enterprise that aligns strategy with values, innovation with tradition, talent with teamwork, and science with art,” and the patient at the center of all they do.3

The leadership challenge and a reflection: The questions we continue to ask ourselves will challenge us to excellence in leadership:

  • Am I a forward-thinker and solution minded in collaborative dialog?
  • How am I an innovative leader?
  • How am I mentoring my team and the next generation?
  • Am I going to have a “patient first” legacy?
  • Am I modeling the way for future leaders?

Holding the CRA credential demonstrates that a medical imaging leader thinks about all of the above questions and does his or her best to model them. CRA’s aspire to excellence in leadership. Do you? Join the 1,000+ strong.


1. Dickson V. CMS should not pay for regular CT screenings for heavy smokers, panel says. Modern Healthcare. April 30, 2014. Available at: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20140430/NEWS/304309938. Accessed May 22, 2014.

2. VanDevender  FK. Good People Beget Good People: the Life and Legacy of Dr. Thomas F. Frist, Sr. 1998

3. Berry L and Seltman K. Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic—Inside One of the Most Admired Service Organizations. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2008.

Sheryl Jackson is Public Commissioner for RACC and a resident of Dallas, Texas.  She is serving Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group as Knowledge Manager where the firm provides management consulting and technology consulting services to 7 of the top 10 national banks.  Sheryl may be reached at  sheryl.jackson@cgcginc.com.

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