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Beliefs important to future of healthcare leadership

July 10th, 2014

by Kevin L. Shrake

Martin Luther King Jr. was able to attract over a quarter million people to the Mall in Washington, District of Columbia to hear his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. How was he able to do this without the internet, email, texting, Facebook or Twitter?

He did this because of how he communicated his beliefs and how those beliefs struck emotions in people of all walks of life. He did not have a 12-point strategic plan on a PowerPoint presentation--he had a dream. Leaders inspire and people want to follow them. Managers gain cooperation based on their hierarchical power. Which one are you?

What Do I Believe in?

Here are some of my common beliefs based on a lifetime in healthcare and from an executive's perspective. I believe:


  • Financial performance is the number one issue of the executive suite
  • There are still significant opportunities to lower cost or enhance revenues in our organizations
  • We often look too quickly to lower costs and balance budgets by eliminating labor
  • Not all best practice resides in any one industry and to identify best practice one must look across multiple industries
  • There is an incredible amount of white noise in regards to people and organizations trying to connect with the executive suite to provide assistance
  • As a result, executives are often guarded and shut down opportunities to connect just to get through their day
  • Executives should not pay consultants to write reports and generate opportunity lists, but should pay for performance when actual results are achieved
  • Executives should look to trusted advisors who can do the legwork of identifying best practice and cut through the white noise that keeps us from optimizing our results
  • Executives who constantly strive to improve their organizations are the ones that achieve the optimal results
  • Our beliefs drive us to take action

When Should We Buy?

Human behavior experts state that we buy something when the perceived value is greater than the cost. If that is accurate then what should we be looking for as we partner with people or organizations to achieve our common goals?

  • Look for a partner with the same beliefs
  • Make sure each partner's financial incentives are aligned
  • Always default to best practice rather than buying a brand
  • Identify partners willing to be paid on performance
  • Look for partners who can give you the gift of time by vetting opportunities and designing the best way to execute
  • Look for partners with experience outside of your industry
  • Evaluate value based on past performance--look for partners with a track record of success
  • Partner with experienced experts that have values you can trust

Let Me Hear From You

What are your beliefs? The list of beliefs above could go on forever. This article is designed to stimulate your thinking about what you truly believe in and what motivates you to take action, engage solutions or partner with industry experts. What are your core competencies and what are some activities best left to trusted experts who can execute on your behalf and create the classic synergistic formula of 1+1=3?

There is a great deal of change happening in healthcare at the moment, but I would suggest that there were dramatic change in other decades. Establishing Medicare and Medicaid, implementing the Prospective Payment System and introducing of capitation payments for select patient populations are a few examples. This is simply another era in which executives have an opportunity to make a difference by leading in a fashion that demonstrates our beliefs and motivates others to follow.

What are your beliefs?

Kevin L. Shrake is the executive vice president and COO of MDR™, based in Fresno, California. He is a 35 year veteran of healthcare, a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and a former hospital CEO.


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