Are you up for a Challenge?
By John D. Laslavic, LPBC
Working for The Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania for 18 years beginning in 1981 and with other providers over the last 30 years, I have watched the health care landscape change, grow, and integrate along with the consolidation of the hospital and health care markets in Western Pennsylvania and in other markets across the United States of America. From cost reimbursement to prospective payment to the new government health care laws that were just passed by the national government—all are trying to get it right.
While some hospitals and health care organizations have been very successful financially by gaining economies of scale and adopting best practices, others have faced tremendous financial struggles. Some have joined large integrated health care delivery systems while others have remained steadfast in their desire for their community independence. Some of these moves were excellent and needed. Others were caused by bad behaviors of leaders; you may even recall (e.g. AHERF), that set in motion the opportunity for the consolidation to accelerate.
As a business development company, ThistleSea Business Development works with business owners of all types of companies including medical and health care providers and their employees every day. Having my 30 years of business background and involvement in the business of health care provides me with a unique perspective and, over the years, the privilege of meeting some of the best and most caring health care executives, medical professionals and dedicated employees leading and running the institutions we all rely on for the provision of our communities’ health care.
Some of the strong values and tenants of many fine people who were the true defenders of a strong and skillful community-based local medical and health care delivery system still hold true today. Let me share some of these with you below:
- There is a great need for good and affordable health care!
- Learn how to build rapport first, because people do business with those they know, like and trust!
- Move forward with a cooperative spirit! It truly is not all about you!
- If you’re in charge, provide strong leadership but bring some humility to your game. Arrogance and pride puts you in a situation where you will not learn.
- Do not take advantage of your position.
- Health care is local, happens locally, and not in an ivory tower!
- To really know what’s really going on, you must be in the health care setting, that’s where care is happening!
- Remember health care involves everyone and just about everything that is made, so seek and adopt best business practices because it is critically important for the lives of the individuals and families we serve to get it right.
- Not-for-Profit needs surplus to operate; it is important, as one of the good Catholic Sisters always said, “No money means; no mission”. Good leadership provides good financial stewardship.
- Not-for-Profit means that profits (i.e. surplus) don’t inure to any one individual or group of individuals, whatever way you cut it!
- Remember who pays your salary, pays your bills, and provides you with your security! Serve them well.
- Remember who does the work, provides the care and makes it happen—treat them with dignity and respect.
- Enjoy your work, have an attitude of service, work hard and have fun!
We have seen the decay and demise of institutions on Wall Street that have failed to recognize the long-term commitment to their markets and customers for power and short-term gain. For many reasons these powerful institutions seem to lack the leadership’s ability to use their power for the benefit of their customers.
While we find that one in the business of health care and every business for that matter strives for a dominate position in the marketplace, these leaders must also remember and continue to recognize that health care is a bit different. We should strive to provide a variety of health care options for the people in our communities.
It’s the businesses, business owners and employees who pay for the care through their sweat and hard work of their labor and the taxes they pay; let’s recognize them as the customer. Are we asking them what they truly need, desire and want? A great quote:
“No one ever said when a photographer enters the forest, that there’s only one great photo in here for one photographer! God said, bring lots of film because I am going to bring it on!” —Dewitt Jones, National Geographic Photographer & Inspirational Speaker
If we all work together, I know with strong leadership and the talent in the medical and health care delivery systems, we can get it right for all our communities and citizens. It will just take cooperation, humility, and caring more for the community our ultimate customer. Let’s leave our medical and health care system better than we inherited it. Are you up to the challenge?
John D. Laslavic, LPBC
ThistleSea Business Development, LLC