How one healthcare organization equipped its leaders to deliver both
An integrated healthcare organization committed to providing affordable, high quality healthcare services wanted to develop a new, enterprise-wide leadership development program for its mid-level leaders, reaching every department. The company needed a program focused on enabling an “enterprise thinking” mindset that would give leaders a broader perspective on their business. Such a paradigm would allow leaders to better understand key trade-offs between improving operational efficiency and increasing quality of patient care, demonstrate resilience among shifting industry regulations and trends, and meet the various ongoing challenges faced by healthcare organizations, all while balancing “mission vs. margin” objectives.
To achieve broader enterprise thinking, the healthcare organization partnered with BTS to design a customized business simulation modeled after its existing business. This solution sought to provide participants with a deeper understanding of how their departments’ operational decisions affected “the big picture,” and also to help them identify the areas in which these decisions most significantly impacted bottom-line improvements, strategic alignment, and decision making. In the simulation, each leader:
The simulation created a risk-free, engaging, and fun way to achieve these learning objectives. Participants gained a holistic view of the organization’s value chain, which ran from attracting new health plan members to decreasing the average length of a hospital stay and system-wide medical costs.
The simulation’s unique approach to learning placed participants in challenging, realistic scenarios. By reasoning through the simulation, participants drew from both their own experiences and their peers’ to adopt new behaviors, enabling them to manage their business areas more successfully. After each year of the simulation, BTS consultants presented feedback on and analysis of each participant’s results to demonstrate outcomes of the various strategies at play.
Faced with relevant and high-impact business challenges, participating teams strove to maximize operating margins, revenue, quality of care, community wellbeing, service experience (including member satisfaction), and employee performance. Participants also assumed the position of someone on the executive team, formulating a strategy and prioritizing investments on a quest to generate the most improvement on the overall financial health of the organization.
The simulation was composed of three rounds experienced over four days. Each round had a distinct theme and set of learning objectives.
The first round focused on understanding the enterprise from top to bottom:
The second round focused on managing the system, from member to employee:
The third round involved creating momentum for a sustainable business:
Before the four-day program began, participants were asked to read a detailed case study describing a fictitious company in a fictitious market environment, both modeled after the real healthcare organization and its environment.
On the first day of the program, leaders were divided into five teams. Each team entered a strategic planning session during which they set their business decision-making strategy and planned how to preserve resilience across the three simulated years. Within each team, leaders received one of six roles: Head of Health Plan, Head of Hospital, Head of Outpatient Clinic, Head of Outpatient Pharmacy, Head of Shared Services, and CEO / Head of Community Wellness.
In the simulation, leaders made critical decisions across three areas. The first is Member Segments, which includes Groups, Individuals, and Medicare. Medicaid is also one of the member segments, but leaders don’t make direct decisions for this member group. The second is Points of Care, which includes the Health Plan, Hospital, Outpatient Clinics, and Pharmacy. The third is Shared Services, which involves enterprise decisions around core infrastructure, data analytics, mobile experience, and community involvement.
Over the three simulated years, the marketplace evolved, forcing teams to react to the needs of every member segment. For example, when the business expanded into a new geographic region, teams had to decide which products to bring to market. In another, Medicare growth and demand far exceeded expectations, and leaders had to recalibrate priorities. Periodically, teams would receive a “Wobbler,” or an unexpected event requiring that they respond in real-time. Examples include a sudden drop in patient satisfaction scores, drug shortages at pharmacies, or a staph infection within the hospital. Teams’ decisions impacted both KPIs and their market share for each market and segment.
Team performance was measured by four primary metrics: operating income, revenue growth, quality of care, and community wellbeing. Leaders’ choices were also benchmarked according to additional metrics that reflect relationships across the enterprise, including member satisfaction, service experience, employee engagement, and access.
Leaders also participated in “debrief” sessions to discuss the results of running the simulated business, which were integrated with observations of each individuals’ resilience, agility, and stress regulation throughout the round, particularly when facing critical moments.
While running their simulated companies, leaders experienced two “Know-How” sessions, which are mini-learning sessions to deepen their knowledge of the business and learning objectives. The first session focused on driving affordable care by deepening comprehension of income statements and building patient health-management skills, while the second featured a patient journey map that highlighted the critical moments in a patient’s healthcare journey.
After experiencing all three simulated rounds, leaders entered an “Application” session, identifying the actions and behavior shifts that would drive business results back on the job. They also created “Go-Dos,” which are goals designed to sustain lessons learned and yield meaningful change. Following the program, every participant received follow-up emails reminding them of their Go-Dos, each embedded with a secure link that allowed leaders to update and track their progress.
As a result of the experience, participants had a better understanding of the organization’s strategy and business; specifically, about increasing operational efficiency. Each participant committed to concrete actions they would take back on the job to make an impact on the organization. A total of 135 Actions were submitted to and tracked by BTS. As of 6 months post-pilot, 30.02% of actions were completed, and 36.71% were in progress.
Highlighted below are specific outcomes resulting from participant on-the-job actions:
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Building and supporting highly effective teams in a matrixed environment
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