Wednesday, December 16, 2009

7 Tips for Turnaround Management in Healthcare

The business elements of healthcare have faced significant turmoil this past year. Hospitals, medical practices, groups, insurers and even their service companies have been forced to produce greater results with fewer resources. This has led to strained budgets and strained executives as well as strained staffing. Why have some healthcare businesses survived and done well and others struggled during this past year? Why have some built revenues and profits without sacrificing patient care while others have faced major internal and external issues?

We have worked with a number of healthcare companies and there is a consistent pattern between the best and the rest. This holds true no matter in what segment of the healthcare business the company operates. We aren’t using specifics in this article since they will vary by segment but the basic elements are unchanged. Look at your organization and see how you measure up on these.

The best create and work from a well thought out written plan. The plan is strategic in nature and includes an annual plan that all departments are responsible for executing. The rest have a semi-thought out or poorly conceived plan somewhere in the CEO’s or Executive Director’s head. This plan is impacted constantly by emotion, ability to communicate, level of trust, delegation skills, follow-up skills, a packed calendar and reliance on the top executive’s memory. You will note that for every article here that deals with the business, we start with a comment about the necessity of having a sound strategic plan. You can’t win without one.

Business Model
The best have strong business models that flow from their longer term strategic plans. They have clearly defined target markets, clients and customers. Their ongoing revenue streams are built on strong relationships with their clients. The relationship could be with the organization, the products and services or the people who work in the business. The rest have the “lets see what comes in” business model and they will continue to do what they have always done to win customers. There is no recognition that the world has changed and that in order to survive, they must change too.

Building The Organization
The best hire the best people. They pay more and reward more for higher performance. The best weed out poor and underperforming people at every level. The best organizations know that allowing people who aren’t working to a high standard lowers the standards for every employee. The best have clear priorities. Every day at the best companies, people focus on the vital few things that matter. These organizations understand the key performance indicators and keep a sharp eye on those measurements. The rest hire those that aren’t hired by the best and tolerate underperformers. At the rest, most of each day is filled with working on the trivial elements and nothing much gets measured.

Building The People
The best take their people responsibilities seriously, recognizing that only through their people can they succeed. Performance reviews in the best organizations are scheduled and held not for judging but for developing. Plans are set out to help employees obtain the skills and hone the talents they need for success. The better organizations see themselves as learning organizations. Continuing education is considered a sustainable competitive advantage. The people in these organizations know what is expected of them and they are motivated and incentivized to perform. When goals are achieved, rewards are given to reinforce performance. The rest don’t believe in performance evaluations because they take too much time, aren’t done well and don’t work. If a person is deemed to not have the skills, they are terminated and a new person is sought. Wasted resources from many standpoints are the result.

The best delegate appropriate responsibility down into the organization and with that delegation they share the business plans, objectives and goals so all know what needs to be done. The people then can decide on the best way of doing it. All levels of management are trusted and empowered to get things done within established guidelines. In the rest of the companies, they suffer from underperformance because people lack the authority, responsibility and direction to guide their activities and must wait to be told. Without the written plan communication is spotty and the results are disastrous.

Accomplishments vs. Activity
The best don’t make or accept excuses. The best focus on results. At the end of the day, the best understand that intention, action and activity do not equal results. Trying doesn’t count, either. Nor does working hard, if hard work just means long hours without focus. When something goes wrong, the best take responsibility, learn from what happened and move forward. The rest spend their time focused on everything that keeps people from achieving results. They spend much of the time being caught up in the “blame game,” pointing fingers, resulting in punishment but not always of those responsible.

The best always try to find a better way. The best companies are never satisfied with how things are because they understand that to improve means they can continue to distinguish themselves for their clients and from their competition. The rest are satisfied with what they have; good enough is good enough. The rest don’t understand that fair, “Okay” and “good” are the enemies of great.

How is your business? How did you measure up? If you are not executing all of these elements very well, contact us. We can help and we have clients that are following these tips and they can help you too.



John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

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