2018 AHA Leadership Summit: Up Close and Personal with Real Issues

By Dilpreet Lidhar

[Note: Dilpreet Lidhar was a 2018 summer intern at Witt/Kieffer through the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity’s Summer Enrichment Program  (SEP).]

This year’s annual American Hospital Association (AHA) Leadership Summit, which was held in sunny San Diego, focused on advancing affordable care and promoting value. Senior executives, physician leaders and trustees from the nation’s leading hospitals and health systems were able to discuss the critical challenges facing their organizations. It was a great opportunity to network and find solutions to address these issues. I would like to highlight a few key sessions that I attended.

2018 SEP Interns before heading out to an evening dinner on the USS Midway

2018 SEP Interns before heading out to an evening dinner on the USS Midway – Dilpreet Lidhar is second from the right

Upon arriving to the conference, I sat in on the #123forEquity presentation led by Cynthia Washington, the Interim President and CEO of the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity, an affiliate of AHA. While one would expect and hope for positive change in this area, the session made it clear that there is still progress to be made toward greater equity in U.S. healthcare. It was a great discussion between everyone present. As diversity is growing in the United States, it needs to be emphasized that minorities are now becoming the majority. I learned that there has been no change in the overall diversity of healthcare CEOs for many years. There is a pipeline problem and a strategic plan is necessary to implement change and expand diversity among healthcare leadership teams and boards.

The next day I listened to a fellow Texan, Admiral William H. McRaven USN (retired). He recently stepped down as the chancellor of the University of Texas system. He felt the transition from the military to being a leader at a university to be pretty easy. Both the military and academia have people that need to be led. He mentioned that in order to have a positive impact in leadership, you have to spend time with the people across your organization, regardless of the industry you are in.

The presentation that followed was about physician burnout. Titled “Building Physician Resilience in the Changing Health Care Environment,” it was led by Dr. Lisa Laurent from Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Dr. Mila Felder from Advocate Christ Medical Center and Advocate Children’s Hospital, and Rev. Kathie Bender Schwich, Chief Spiritual Officer from Advocate Aurora Health. This presentation was especially interesting to me because I have been conducting a research project on executive burnout during my time at Witt/Kieffer. I asked the panel what we can do as a nation to help alleviate the obvious problem of burnout for physicians and executives. Both sides (care providers and administrators) are often pointing fingers at each other and placing blame regarding burnout. Dr. Laurent agreed that both sides need to come face-to-face and effectively listen to each other to address their issues. Until then, the burnout problem will continue to persist.

All in all, the Summit was empowering and an extremely beneficial professional experience. I went home with an abundance of information that can be relevant to any type of health care organization, not just hospitals and health systems. Issues of healthcare equity and provider burnout, in particular, are ones that I will continue to follow and learn about.

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