Kate Vonderhaar, Practice Manager, HR Advancement Center
My favorite article so far this summer is this Harvard Business Review interview with a CEO about how he spends his time. On the surface, it's an n of 1—but this CEO was one of 27 participants in Harvard Business School’s CEO Time Study. The study, run by Michael Porter and Nitin Nohria (full results here), had participants track their time in 15-minute increments (with the help of their assistants) for 13 weeks (including both time at work and away from work) in order to get a snapshot of how they spend time across a quarter.
In the interview, the CEO discusses what he learned about how he spends his time, how well that aligns with his priorities, and what he learned through feedback from Porter and Nohria about how his results compared to the other CEOs. This inspired me to try a smaller-scale personal experiment where I rigorously tracked my own time at and beyond work for a couple of days. I found it remarkably helpful. For me, the most useful element wasn’t the summary breakdown of how I spent my time, but the discipline to actively choose and note each action I was going to take next (…do I really need to check email again, or should I finish up that project I’ve been putting off?)
2. 'Fronads' (podcast episode) by Radiolab
Dierdre Saulet, Practice Manager, Oncology Roundtable
It feels like I've spent most of the past few weeks traveling, which means I've finally had time to catch up on my backlog of podcasts (so please excuse my rogue "article" recommendation). Recently, I listened to Radiolab's multi-episode Gonads series, which dives deep into the mysteries and misconceptions of sex and reproduction. I especially enjoyed the 'Fronads' episode chronicling a woman's odyssey to bear children after being diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Despite being recommended to start treatment immediately, she visits a fertility doctor working on an experimental procedure and freezes her ovaries before starting chemotherapy. I don't want to ruin the twists and turns, but suffice to say, I think everyone will enjoy this touching, entertaining, and downright fascinating exploration of reproduction and what the human body is capable of.
3. 'Physician Well-Being: The Reciprocity of Practice Efficiency, Culture of Wellness, and Personal Resilience' in the New England Journal of Medicine: Catalyst
Craig Pirner, Managing Director, Talent Development
The data are clear: physician burnout is high—and rising. And this has clear implications for care quality and organizational efficacy. Consequently, organizations are rightfully concerned about reducing physician burnout, and asking questions about the role they can play in doing so.
I found this article, from NEJM Catalyst , useful and thought-provoking. It suggests that we should expand our thinking: rather than striving for absence of burnout, we should aim for the presence of professional fulfillment.
The authors outline a model for a balanced approach to promoting professional fulfillment. That model contains three reciprocal domains: efficiency of practice, culture of wellness, and personal resilience. The authors suggest that organizations bear primary responsibility for the first two domains, while physicians bear primary responsibility for the third. The article provides more detail about each domain.
For organizations looking to have a robust, honest conversation with physicians about the tough issues surrounding burnout and well-being, the model strikes me as a useful starting point—one that acknowledges that addressing physician well-being is multi-faceted and must include both personal and organizational commitments.
Amanda Berra, Senior Research Parner
Good thing there's nothing weird about reading health IT trade press articles on the beach, because Jennifer Bresnick's Health IT Analytics feature, 'Navigating the Hype of Healthcare Artificial Intelligence Companies' is a really great crash course in what hospitals and health systems are dealing with when it comes to AI. On the one hand, there’s so much potential. On the other hand, the number of potential use cases is just bewildering, many of the applications are new, the vendor landscape is complex, and practical and theoretical issues are everywhere. Bresnick does a great job at specifically channeling the health care executive perspective on all of this, clarifying what AI is (and what it isn't), showcasing real-world hospitals and systems using AI in neat ways, and peppering in quotes from savvy executives. I think it's fair to say the general management takeaway is to 'Keep the horse in front of the cart at all times.'
Looking for more guidance after reading Bresnick's feature? The Advisory Board’s IT Advisor program is spending an ever-growing share of its time researching AI—their most recent report is "The Decision Machine: Analytics and the Rise of AI."The New Innovation Agenda is the Health Care Advisory Board’s most recent coverage on the changing landscape of health care for CEOs and strategy leaders, and we expect to focus more on AI in the future, as navigating its landscape moves up the priority list for the executive team.
Thomas Seay, Editor-in-Chief, the Daily Briefing
If you read the Daily Briefing regularly, you're plenty familiar with Aaron Carroll, the prolific health care researcher who writes regularly for the New York Times and hosts the Healthcare Triage video series. But unless you read Carroll's blog, The Incidental Economist," you may have missed his spectacularly helpful ongoing series of posts called "Help me learn new things."
Each month, Carroll picks a topic or skill he’d like to learn more about, invites his readers to suggest relevant reading, then immerses himself in the subject and reports back on what he found most valuable. Some of his chosen topics are relevant to—or at least adjacent to—health care, such as meditation. Many other posts just follow the meanderings of a thoughtful mind as it engages with topics football strategy to oceanography to cryptography.
Here's the full roundup of Carroll's 2016, 2017, and 2018 explorations. (In particular, Carroll’s reviews led me to pick up SPQR, The Storm Before the Storm, The Code Book, Drink This, and The Story of Art, all of which were well worth the price of admission.)
Lindsay Conway, Managing Director, Pharmacy Executive Forum
We all know that Amazon is taking over the world. But what will their conquest look like in health care? My colleague Madhavi Kasinadhuni shared this vignette from futurist Richard Worzel, which describes a provocative vision about the future — and future disruption — of our industry.
7. 'What 146 C-suite executives told us about their top concerns—and how they've changed this year' in Advisory Board's At the Helm Blog
David Willis, Executive Director, Research
Across the summer at our annual CEO meeting series, I've spoken with hospital C-level executives about everything on their plate, and what they're prioritizing for the year ahead. A big focus of that conversation has been cost control, and how the challenges in that area are fundamentally different than previous years when expense management has been a priority.
That's why I recommend that you read about the results of my colleagues' annual CEO survey. Every year, we ask a diverse group of C-suite executives what issues are of the greatest strategic importance to them. The answers this year were, as always, fascinating to see. One of the most interesting takeaways was that controlling costs had become easily the most important issue for the C-suite, scoring higher than any topic in years, and eclipsing increasing revenue as the issue of top concern. Beneath the surface, the nature of their cost focus is also interesting. This is not about short-term fixes or incremental approaches to cost reduction, but rather about fundamentally rethinking the underlying cost structure of the health care delivery system, and a willingness to consider much more radical approaches to reducing future cost growth.
I'd recommend that you read our blog post on the topic to learn more about the concerns that rose to the top, how they've changed, and three takeaways into what these changes mean. The results say a lot about where health care is in this moment.
8. 'Elevating quality improvement by telling patients how much the hospital harmed them' in Advisory Board's Forum Blog
Liz Jones, Senior Consultant, Global Forum for Health Care Innovators
On the Advisory Board International team, we serve members in several dozen countries outside the U.S., including England, Canada, Denmark and Switzerland, and we’re always interested in seeing the different challenges hospitals in these countries are facing. Earlier this year, we interviewed Chief Executive leaders at some of the most progressive hospitals in England to learn more about how they’re leading their organizations through increasingly complex times. We were fascinated by their insights and experiences.
We wanted to recommend two of the interviews because these leaders, although they both serve at pioneer organizations, have different backgrounds and have taken different approaches to leadership. In particular, it was interesting to hear about how their approaches to improving care quality, connecting with staff, and preparing for new technologies were very similar to those taken by health care leaders in the U.S.
Veena Lanka, Senior Director, Research and Insights
Navigating motherhood in the era of targeted digital advertising is a funny thing. Amazon, Facebook, NPR, the New York Times, and Google know what I need before I need it. As a new parent of a 6-month old I'm amazed by the precision with which images of age-appropriate gear, toys, and articles show up on my screen. If I'm honest, the vast majority of these recommendations are spot on. One such find that I'm excited to share with everyone, but especially managers and colleagues of working mothers, is the case for why mothers make great employees.
Google knew I needed to read an alternate perspective to tales of foggy forgetful "mom brain" one always hears about but which tell only one half of the story. As I look around my own workplace, I don't see the stereotypical frazzled moms struggling to meet the demands of career and children, but competent leaders, thoughtful managers and efficient employees. Don't get me wrong—the struggle is real—but so is the breakthrough performance.
This perspective is especially relevant in the face of reports such as Kaiser's 2017 Women's Health Survey, which found that women comprise nearly half of the nation's workers and that 70% of mothers with children under age 18 are in the labor force. Even so, four in 10 women, and especially low-income women and minority women, continue to experience workplace discrimination.
If we thought unequal pay and discrimination were limited to service industry and Hollywood, it turns out women in health care report a similar experience. JAMA Internal Medicine reported in 2017 that four out of five doctors who are moms experienced workplace discrimination. In the same year, JAMA also noted that patients treated by female physicians fare better than those treated by men, to the tune of ~32,000 fewer deaths every year, making a strong case for keeping more women in the clinical workforce. Beyond health care, Forbes reports that companies with more women in leadership and board positions report 74% more equity and assets.
So what is the secret sauce? Read this article and share with all the parents and parent-adjacent people you know! Now excuse me while I go buy the sippy cup Amazon tells me I will need any day now.