Healthcare Administration Best Practices: Leadership Team Development and the Evolution of Physician and Nurse Executives

Guest Post by Christine Mackey-Ross

In the ever-changing landscape of healthcare administration, a new category of professionals is emerging at our nation’s hospitals and provider groups: physician and nurse executives. To maintain a competitive edge, healthcare organizations are ramping up their leadership team development programs to ensure that these newly established administrators have the background and skills necessary to succeed in what is becoming a more and more critical role.

 Why now?

Ongoing efforts to improve quality and outcomes while reducing costs have led many organizations to form Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). ACOs typically comprise:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Physicians
  • Other provider groups

These integrated networks are tasked with managing the healthcare needs of a specific population—such as Medicare patients—while keeping costs in check. Providers succeeding in their efforts receive bonuses and potential rate increases, further incentivizing them to provide quality at a reasonable rate.

Ironically, it’s a novel idea: financially rewarding providers for keeping their patients healthy.

And as part of this restructuring process, hospitals, physician groups, and others are now forming their own clinical integrated systems. With so much at stake, the individual players within the ACO networks are doing what they can to more effectively manage their operations with a commitment to improving care—and hopefully increasing revenue.

And who better to help accomplish this than proven practitioners who can bring an intimate knowledge of healthcare provisioning to the boardroom?

Enter physician and nurse executives.

What they are tasked with accomplishing?

Physician and nurse executives bridge the gap between patient examination rooms and the corner offices. Their task, in a nutshell, is to bring medical staff and business leaders into alignment so that quality, goals, and cost-cutting are understood and executed consistently across the organization.

These C-suite executives typically boast extensive clinical backgrounds but can lack administrative proficiency. Here’s where internal leadership team development programs are essential, as they help these practitioners become business and management experts capable of blending their knowledge of syringes with their spreadsheets. Only with both sides of the shop covered can they effectively lead healthcare organizations, such as those below, in this changing environment:

  • Health systems
  • Academic medical centers
  • Community hospitals
  • Managed care organizations

 How do they get here?

Physician and nurse executives can come from a variety of backgrounds:

  • Private practices
  • Medical affairs offices
  • Nursing administration programs

Some healthcare providers return to school for MBAs and finance degrees, while others take advantage of leadership team development programs offered by employers. Regardless of how they arrive at the C-suite, physician and nurse executives understand the clinical and business aspects of leading an organization and commit themselves to building excellence and accountability among their healthcare teams.

What’s next?

Witt/Kieffer has seen a jump recently in requests for physician and nurse executives who can lead major hospitals and institutions. Some 64 physician CEOs are currently heading up systems across the country, and that number is likely to grow by the hundreds, if not thousands, as more healthcare systems adopt this best practice.

Physician and nurse executives are our future leaders in hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, and provider groups across the country. Are your internal leadership team development programs in line with where we are headed? Will you be ready?

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  1. Paula says:

    I do agree that it’s now time for them to develop/enhance their leadership skills to help run smoothly the administrative side of the healthcare industry. Physicians and nurses, they are perfectly fitted to lead because they already know how to work in the healthcare field itself and have heard the concerns of many people they deal with everyday.