During my holiday vacation, I’m getting plenty of time to read. And somehow, most of the things I’m reading are health related. I just can’t seem to escape the field. Anyone else?
Yesterday a new article from HBR came out called: “Why Doctors Make the Best Hospital Managers.” I’m an avid HBR fan (it’s actually what I read to break away from medicine, ironically), and this article caught my attention.
Really the article focuses on 2 ideas: the changing role of the physician, and the changing role of the hospital. Doctors, once considered the lone heroes for patient care, don’t work in silos anymore. They are just one part of the team and rely on plenty of other individuals to help execute care. As leaders of these teams, they have to manage others, establish relationships quickly, and work towards a common purpose. These are all traits any boss I know would love to have in their management teams. Second, healthcare is changing. There is growing push towards service and delivery where customer satisfaction has become a top priority for most hospitals. And what better way to satisfy customers than to make them healthy?
This makes me think–as medical students, we aren’t taught how to emphasize customer satisfaction. Yes, we build empathy, make patients comfortable, help diagnose and identify treatment(s) that patients can carry out, but customer satisfaction as a business concept? Not in the curriculum. So, shouldn’t health care managers, who study design and systems delivery, be in charge of hospitals, and let’s have doctors focus on their craft? Shouldn’t doctors want to focus on the patients individually anyways?
Interestingly the article highlights hospitals like Mayo and Cleveland Clinic that are run by physicians and they are doing quite well. Doctors here say that it’s the credibility of having a boss who is also a doctor. They understand what doctors have gone through; they’ve walked the walk.
But do doctors transitioning into management roles have all the skills necessary? Or should there by an adjuvant set of courses, perhaps business or management classes, that help physicians acquire skills (like balance a business budget–I know they don’t teach that in med school).