This Banner hospital just got an all-female leadership team—and a brand new mission statement

Banner Desert Medical Center (BDMC) in Mesa, Arizona, has an all-female leadership team—an unintentional composition that gives the hospital unique insight into the patient experience and Banner Health's new, consumer-focused mission statement, according to CEO Laura Robertson, Marty Stempniak writes for Hospitals & Health Networks.

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CEO: It's an unintended team, with unexpected benefits

In hiring Cristal Mackay last month to serve as COO, the BDMC now has a leadership team in which the CEO, CMO, CFO, CNO—and now COO—are all women. But Robertson clarified that the gender makeup wasn't intentional. "Obviously, you hire the right people for the job," she said. "So, [it] was not on my agenda to only hire women, no question. It just kind of fell into place like that."

While it wasn't intentional, Robertson said the result has had some unexpected benefits. According to Robertson, the center's leadership team now better reflects the overall makeup of its parent company Banner Health's  50,000-member workforce—which is 76 percent female. Women are featured heavily in Banner Health's leadership team, accounting for the system's COO, CMO, and human resources officers; more than 50 percent of the system's 348 senior managers; and 57 percent of the system's 21 facility CEOs.

Further, Robertson said since women often "make the health care decisions, not just for themselves, but for their whole families," it's helpful to have a leadership team who's in sync with that decision dynamic among patients. "You can't just hire females over the qualified (males), of course," Robertson said. "But certainly I think it's always given me another approach to understanding what the consumer needs or wants, from a health care perspective."

Banner's change of mission

This insight into the consumer perspective is particularly valuable as Banner rolls out its new mission statement, Robertson said. According to Robertson, the system has changed its mission statement from, "Making a difference in people's lives through excellent patient care," to, "Make health care easier, so that life can be better."

The former mission statement was too focused on health providers' responsibilities and the hospital encounter, Robertson said. In contrast, the new mission statement aims to make the consumer BDMC's driving force.  

Robertson said she's keenly aware of the challenges that patients face when seeking out health care services, such as complicated billing practices and the inflexibility of scheduling doctor's appointments. "I don't know that there's another environment that is as complex for something that's so critical," she said, explaining that health care consumers often have to juggle "the many components of health care" just as they face "some of the most challenging times in their life."

BDMC's mission helps the center focus on easing that experience, Robertson continued—it's "consumer-focused," not just "patient-focused." She added, "We want to not just focus on when you're a patient. We want to keep you out of the hospital. We want to keep you healthy."

Robertson continued, "Our new mission really represents the entire continuum of health care. It's applicable to every site, whether you're the nurse at the bedside or whether you're in patient financial services," adding, "If your mission is to make it 'easier so it's better,' then if you're a financial representative you can connect to that mission as well as any nurse at the bedside" (Stempniak, Hospitals & Health Networks, 8/9).

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