Speakers encourage mission leaders to be forward thinking and gracious

July 1, 2018


SAN DIEGO — About 150 participants took part in a CHA pre-assembly mission leader seminar here that focused on their role in strategic planning at health systems. Speakers provided insight on what the future may hold in health care and guidance on how to be an effective and gracious leader.

Author and practical futurist Michael Rogers offered some predictions for how technology will change the delivery and quality of health care. He said that part of the work of health care leadership will be to assess the patient experience and determine what aspects of patient care "belong in the physical world and what belongs in the virtual world."

Michael Rogers
Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr./© CHA

Rogers said technological developments will continue to fuel advances in patient care, but they will never replace the need for soft skills like compassion in health care.

He predicted that by the mid-2020s, personal technology will be more widely used in health care. For example, he said, smart eyeglasses that incorporate in the lenses computer screens that are wirelessly connected to the Internet will be in more common use. The connection can be activated by voice or visual prompts from the wearer. Some physicians already use them to interface with a patient's electronic medical record while doing a physical exam or consult.

Rogers said wearable or implanted smart sensors that can gather and transmit a patient's biometric information will be crucial tools enabling a wave of Baby Boomers to stay in their homes safely as they age. The ability to remotely and continuously monitor individuals recuperating at home following a hospitalization or managing chronic diseases will allow heath care providers to intervene before problems progress.

He envisioned that health care technology could be activated with a voice-enabled smart speaker system, such as Amazon's Echo system. A patient might say to this electronic personal assistant: "Alexa, can you take my blood pressure now?" Or the Echo's Alexa could give a verbal reminder when it's time to take medicine.

Earlier this year, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase announced they are joining together to create health care solutions for their U.S. employees, their families and potentially for all Americans. Rogers predicts that companies currently outside of health care will take new approaches in the health care market. They may offer health care subscriptions, charging a monthly fee to bundle services to provide health checkups, and encourage wellness. They might even cross-promote health services with their other business lines. Amazon, for example, could give a discount on groceries at its Whole Foods grocery stores when a person agrees to share their health data for researchers to glean insights.

He raised some of the ethical and legal issues that artificial intelligence poses for individuals, companies and countries, pointing out that no matter how much information computers can gather they are not equipped to collaborate, engage in open-ended problem-solving and communicate with true empathy. Mission leaders, he suggested, should be nimble and adept at the use of all technology has to offer to better exercise those soft skills in the work they do.

Janet Smith Meeks
Photo by Ken Mayo/© CHA

Moving forward graciously
The pre-assembly gathering began the afternoon of June 9 and continued the morning of June 10. Among the speakers on June 10, Janet Smith Meeks, the retired president of Mount Carmel St. Ann's hospital in Westerville, Ohio, gave a presentation based on her 2017 book Gracious Leadership: Lead Like You've Never Led Before.

"You can be fully respectful and guide your team to peak performance, they are not mutually exclusive," she told the audience. She outlined 13 ingredients, all of which she said are needed for this style of leadership, which she calls gracious leadership.

Gracious leaders, she said, are respectful, value relationships, listen with purpose and respond with care. She said they see problems as opportunities, ask the right questions, match passion with purpose and develop their people. She said gracious leaders require accountability and are courageous. They seek and provide feedback. They are compassionate and grateful.

Meeks framed some workplace standards in new ways. For instance, she said, "Accountability should constitute the assurance and the celebration of achieving the right results." Not infrequently, leaders forget to celebrate the good work that's being done. Employees, she said, are often "absolutely starving for recognition."

She said it's OK to say you're sorry if you make a decision that keeps a team from realizing its potential. Also helpful, she said, is asking others: "I don't have all the answers, what do you think?"



Copyright © 2018 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.

Copyright © 2018 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.