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It seems like there is never not a time when healthcare administrators are facing major challenges in the industry. Ten years ago, it was widespread lack of insurance coverage, driven in part by the Great Recession. Ten years before that , it was rapidly escalating drug prices— which never really went away, incidentally, you just got used to them.

General Healthcare Management Problems

In doing so, they have to keep patient outcomes at the top of their list, while still minding the actual business of healthcare. The dollars and cents all have to add up at the end of the day, staff have to be compensated adequately, the plumbing and electricity have to work. The healthcare staffing crisis has been coming on for a long time but the slowly rising temperature is about to hit a boil thanks to a few recent surprise developments. In May, the American College of Physicians, in conjunction with a number of prominent specialty physician associations, wrote a letter to the U.

Not only does this exacerbate the provider shortage, but it disrupts the pipeline… medical schools lose faculty, teaching hospitals have to turn away patients. Administrators will have to confront the hiring and scheduling challenges that this problem introduces for years to come.

The opioid addiction crisis in America is finally getting the recognition it deserves from public policy experts. While the crisis continues, medical administrators get hit with it from both sides. Not only is the healthcare system bearing the brunt of treatment of addicts and overdoses, but it also is being called to account for getting many of those individuals hooked on the drugs in the first place. Although overprescription of opioids is at heart a medical responsibility that rests with the prescribing physicians, the industry as a whole is culpable for the environment that has enabled —and possibly even encouraged—that problem in the first place.

These structural issues are squarely the responsibility of healthcare administrators to address. Whether by instituting better controls over drugs, or finding alternative pain management therapies, many administrators will spend the year ahead dealing with the opioid crisis. Is the program meeting measurable milestones that had been set up earlier?

Is the team responsive to current needs? In that respect a balanced scorecard may be a starting point. Do we have a viable business plan? Do we have highly effective teams? The latter question is best viewed in light of the book by Katzenbach and Smith, The Wisdom of Teams. Members of a high performance team often are housed together and have a great deal of interaction on most days.


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This is an argument for the geographic clustering of all members of the Infection Control Team. Managers need to ask if they have the pulse of the institution, and if they know what people think works and does not work? Management by walking around is sound advice popularized by Tom Peters. Ideally all managers would also have had an important experience themselves in the field before the promotion to management. It is in the field that one encounters the reality of uncertainty. That statement should not be said of effective managers in Infection Control.

A separate question might be; do most people in the institution have a clear understanding of the vision of the Infection Control Program? Do they have a sense of the varied management activities that support the vision, and do they appreciate the efforts to meet the goals of the many diverse stakeholders?

The major confusion that exists in hospitals relates to a misunderstanding of leadership and its differentiation from management. The best leaders are free thinkers who provide a culture that seeks excellence, and they are not restricted in their thoughts by established conventions.

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Healthcare Executive | American College of Healthcare Executives

By definition they will be at odds with some managers who exist to keep all staff members focused on the existing thinking of the institution. Leaders provide the energy, develop the management team, and provide a perspective on important issues challenging the institution. One measure of leadership skills relates to the major decisions made by the leader. Were they wise, and did they lead eventually to outcomes favorable to the entire program and its constituents?

In contrast to leaders, managers oversee the systems and the individuals who accomplish tasks, and they perform the measures of success or failure.

Managers make things happen in a complex organization. Managers also oversee the costs of the program, wisely preserving the financial assets. Note that nothing in the definition of an accomplished investigator, a teacher with a history of successes or an outstanding clinician defines a leader or a manager. Yet far too often these are labels that senior administrators link to both. Most institutions never examine the definitions of leaders or managers.

Healthcare Management & Leadership

Charan, R. Harv Business Rev April. New York: Harper Business.

Consumer Engagement: Beyond the App

Pirsig, R. William Moprrow. New York. All rights reserved.

Management Issues in Healthcare Information Technology

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