5 Big, Unavoidable Questions for Healthcare Leaders

Over my last ten years of practicing emergency medicine, I've seen many changes: electronic medical records, scribes to help document, more protocolized care, value-based pay, and the formation of healthcare megagroups. Medicine is surely changing before our eyes.

Change happens regardless of whether we steer it. We are all itinerants pushed forward by the winds of change. Here are three ways to play with the gale force winds of healthcare.

  1. Resist it and hope you have the resources to survive, aka praying for a miracle.
  2. Go with the wind and see where it takes you, aka following the crowd.
  3. Attune to the wind and listen to what it whispers before its arrival, aka innovating.

Despite the frequent use of the word innovation in healthcare, almost all of the changes we are seeing belong to the following the crowd model, not the innovating model. The problem is we are so desperate for innovation that we have lowered the bar. Any new protocol or business venture in healthcare is liable to be slapped with the innovative label these days. 

Innovation is derived from the root novus, meaning new. No, not the the flashy advertising that says "New and improved!!!" I mean really new, fresh, perspective-shifting, like you're opening your eyes for the first time. When is the last time you felt that in healthcare?

The real innovation that is happening in healthcare today is the integration of the old medical treatment system with the emerging field of wellbeing. This is where the fields of clinical medicine, medical science, technology, self-care, and human potential intersect. If you are part of a healthcare organization today, ask yourself these questions: Are the leaders in my organization concerned about my wellbeing and our society's wellbeing? Are they connecting day-to-day managing with the big picture that connects us all? Are they simply doing what's trendy or are they truly innovating?

Yesterday's healthcare leader could avoid the topic of wellbeing, or give a quick talk on it, peppered with a few token phrases. Today's healthcare leader must be able to meaningfully engage in exploring the intersection of wellbeing and healthcare. Tomorrow's healthcare leader will design their teams and organizations around the discovery and experience of wellbeing.

If you see yourself as a healthcare leader, immerse yourself in the following questions. From that immersion, the leadership your organization needs will emerge. Here are 5 Big, Unavoidable questions for healthcare leaders:

  1. What is wellbeing?
  2. What is the role of wellbeing in a true health care system?
  3. How does my organization contribute to that vision?
  4. What am I doing to discover and experience wellbeing?
  5. How can I foster this discovery among my colleagues?

True innovation awaits you.

Anoop Kumar, MD, MM is the author of Michelangelo's Medicine: How redefining the human body will transform health and healthcare. He is the creator of Meditation Starter Kit and a course on The Three Bodies. He is a practicing emergency physician in the Washington, DC metro area.