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Posted 1.20.12

by James Van Doren

The cliché that every challenge is an opportunity, isn’t just a cliché for physicians who are looking to bring best practices from business into the world of healthcare.

No matter what side of the healthcare legislation debate you fall on, it’s hard to argue against rising healthcare costs and the demand for better patient outcomes. If you work in the healthcare industry, you are probably bombarded with words like “efficiency”, “customer service”, “waste”, and “patient care”. If you work in the healthcare industry you’ve also probably come to understand that ideals like efficiency and customer service often feel like they are competing against one another. Resources may sometimes be thin, but the expectations for constant improvement aren’t going away anytime soon.

As the laws change, and expectations change with them, doctors, nurses, and other staff are under increased pressure to perform as business leaders. But that isn’t necessarily all bad. A recent article by the UK Newspaper, The Guardian recently reported on an exciting study by Cass Business School. They found that the best hospitals in the United States were lead by doctors. This may not be a surprise to the layman – but the article does note that this appears to be the first study of its kind.

The study looked at correlations, so it is not a clear “cause and effect” relationship. But it is amazing that so few doctor led hospitals are out there. In fact, of the 6,500 hospitals in the US, the research team identified a mere 235 that were lead by physicians. This statistic could be changing based on the increased demand for business education amongst physicians.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) recently posted an article citing the need, and desire, for increased business training as part of physician residency programs. That’s good news for US business schools that have been experiencing a decline in MBA enrollments, as reported in 2010 in the WSJ. With more physicians and healthcare executives looking to bring best practices from other industries into healthcare, the opportunities for lesser known hospitals to reinvent themselves as centers of excellence is a real possibility. And that seems to be the message that we are taking away from this changing landscape; the economy may be fluctuating and healthcare legislation may be a topic of debate – but for the best doctors and hospitals there seems to be a way forward in spite of the forks in the road.

CWRU’s very own J.B. Silvers, PhD, John R. Mannix Medical Mutual of Ohio Professor in Health Care Finance and Professor of Banking and Finance, brings significant business acumen and healthcare industry expertise to several programs in the Healthcare Excellence series, a collection of programs designed for those managing day-to-day healthcare operations and decisions. His Financial Tools for Healthcare Managers kicks off the season on February 23. He co-teaches Managing Change in Healthcare with Ellen Burts-Cooper, PhD, in April.

Those who complete four days of the Healthcare Excellence programs within 18 months will qualify for the Healthcare Excellence Certificate.

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