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A Hallmark of Outstanding Institutions - Be a Leader No Boss

11:14 PM Jan 02, 2024 IST | Fiaz Fazili
a hallmark of outstanding institutions   be a leader no boss
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Notification for the position of new Director for Skims is out, determining whether a future director is a visionary leader, or a routine manager often involves assessing their actions, decisions, and the impact they have on the vision and mission of the Institute. This piece explores the traditional selection criteria for appointing principals and directors of medical institutions, focusing on the importance of vision, strategic and operational planning to enhance patient care.

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Thinking Leadership for Tomorrow, Could We Have Done Better?

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From soaring high to seeing wings of your alma mater clipped can be a deeply painful and emotional experience for any alumni. Analysing the tenure of past heads of medical institutions, conducting a gap analysis, as an expert on healthcare standards healthcare and not finding visionary leadership can be a concerning observation for any policy analyst. It's not uncommon for medical institutions to have directors who were successful clinicians in their respective specialties. However, transitioning from a successful clinical career to an effective leadership role can pose challenges. Unarguably, CEOs of hospitals often come in with improvement plans or strategies, and whether they ultimately succeed is not the focus of this piece. Of course some lessons that can be learned from the past doing things differently and doing different things. I distilled my thoughts on innovation to this piece.

Leadership Skills Are Essential: Success in clinical practice doesn't automatically translate into effective leadership. Leadership requires a unique set of skills, including strategic thinking, decision-making, communication, and the ability to inspire and motivate a diverse team.

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Management Expertise Matters: Running a medical institution involves complex administrative and managerial tasks. Directors need to have a solid understanding of budgeting, resource allocation, policy development, and other management functions. Clinical excellence alone may not prepare individuals for these responsibilities. The Director must make sure their entire workforce and other key stakeholders know their job descriptions, accountability, and the role they must play in making success

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Collaborative communication skills are vital in a medical institution, collaboration and teamwork is essential not only within the leadership team but also with other departments, stakeholders, and the broader community. It is not a one man show- it is not” I “, but” we” this should be a clear message from the leadership or manager who intends to lead this prestigious institute. Directors must effectively communicate with staff, patients, the board of directors, and external stakeholders. Miscommunication can lead to misunderstandings, resistance to change, and a breakdown in trust. Strategic vision is required  while keeping the institution aligned with its mission Director must  be strategically adaptable have a clear compelling vision for the future of the institution and able to navigate through the  changes  in healthcare regulations, policies  and shifts in public health priorities to make informed decisions and keep the institution at the forefront of healthcare practices, new developments .He leads by example inspire others to work toward common goals about the long-term sustainability and growth of the institution by raising aspirations, re-strategizing early on, plan setting organizational culture towards mission, vision, core values, & team norms of the institution and resource allocation to meet moving priorities.

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Leadership Traits are Important: Recognizing that not all clinicians are naturally equipped with leadership skills, there are key differences between healthcare management (Administration) vs leadership. Providing training and mentorship opportunities in leadership development programs like SWOT- SIX SIGMA, VSM ETC can help clinicians develop the necessary skills to excel in leadership roles. Designated hospital CEOs have a tremendous impact on the progress of their constituents on aligning the organisational culture (System) with the vision of the Institute. Being the CEO of a hospital means being part business leader and part politician, requiring a blend of diplomacy, advocacy, financial management, and above all empathetic sense. And the stakes of this role aren’t just profit and loss, but life and death through patient experience & satisfaction upholding their and Staff rights. The   important tasks for a new Director focus must be on reclaiming trust, satisfaction of patients by setting new directions for decreasing referrals to outside states. To enhance the capabilities of your institution to handle a wider range of medical cases, invest in talent hunt, prevent exodus of skilled staff to the lucrative corporate sector, enhance training and technology to ensure that the medical institution can provide comprehensive care. Optimize the workflow and use queue management tools and technology solutions such as online appointment scheduling, E- consultations and electronic medical records to minimize appointment waiting times, queues for patients. Establish and implement clear triage protocols clinical protocols for different emergency scenarios to prioritize and streamline emergency care. Assess the demand for extended operating hours to establish afternoon clinics to decrease rush-hour. Collaborate with other medical institutions and health authorities to establish standardized clinical protocols for referrals on various medical conditions for the whole State to ensure fair and efficient patient transfers to facilitate smooth transitions of care. NABH accreditation of “self-assessment and external peer assessment is one of the ways for continuously improving performance in relation to established standards based on the principles of quality assurance, evidence-based CPG, medical ethics, and prevention of medical error.

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The Right Person to Head SKIMS? The appointment of a CEOs for a health service or medical institute is a critical decision that directly influences the quality of patient care, the efficiency of healthcare systems, and the overall development of the medical education sector. As guardians of some of the world’s key pieces of infrastructure in LMIS, with distinct Geopolitical disturbed status, Super-specialty Hospitals like SKIMS are places of last hope for patients. Putting the onus on healthcare leadership, anybody can be a manager not everyone can be a leader. As a leader of a medical institution like SKIMS valley’s only real tertiary care health unit, how do you lead?  While in modified eligibility criteria seniority can be a relevant factor, prioritizing individuals with a visionary approach and experience of leading any department with innovation or the ability to bring about positive change in the system is essential.  Director’s decisions are vital, and the choice between a visionary leader and a pragmatic manager often depends on the organization's needs and goals.  We’re not talking about the behaviours you exhibit that “show” you are a leader. We’re talking about the structure; processes you follow ensure you have the right plan and the right people and the right tools to deliver at a right time to have an exceptional practice and desirable outcome.  If I was delegated responsibility -How to find an ideal? What makes a medical practice unique is the direction that practice leaders set for it. To know my probable Directors healthcare delivery model, I would invite an open presentation from prospective candidates unleashing their vision, mission, values, and time bound action plan for SKIMS before assigning them with responsibilities. Crafting virtual scenarios that assess a candidate's ability to handle various situations is a great way to evaluate their leadership and managerial skills in a medical institution. When discussing these scenarios with the candidate, I would pay attention to their problem-solving approach, assess their leadership style, adaptability, commitment to continuous improvement in a medical setting, communication skill, ability to prioritize, and their understanding of the healthcare organisation challenges.

As for physician CEOs, many doctors are willing to step into CEO or other senior leadership or healthcare management positions. However, it’s difficult to find doctors who have the physician credentials and who also have what it takes to serve in a senior leadership management role. In addition to requiring competence as both a professionally competent team leader and a healthcare manager have a wide range of responsibilities; their work environment and day-to-day lives can vary immensely when being called upon to transition and improvise the ailing dilapidated system.

(to be continued)

The author is a Practicing surgeon, Certified professional in Healthcare Policy analyst, National and  international expert on Healthcare Quality standards, policy planning and reforms can be reached at drfiazfazili@gmail.com)

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