Although doctors have to go through years of formal education and training to practice in their field, once they reach the top and take a management position, they can be as lost as incoming freshman. According to an Advisory Board Company survey of 22,000 senior health care executives, there is a 25 to 30 percent gap between the assessment of the leadership capabilities of health care professionals and the skill level necessary to achieve high performance.
At New York Presbyterian Hospital, health care executives decided to find an online learning and management program to address this gap. The hospital implemented Harvard Business School Publishing (HBSP) Harvard ManageMentor PLUS Health Care Services Edition, an online management performance support program developed specifically for the health care services industry. The program offers online modules that health care executives can complete to enhance their management skills. In addition to New York Presbyterian, Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System has already implemented the program.
According to Carol Silk, vice president and chief learning officer of New York Presbyterian Hospital, health care executives at the hospital have responded well to the new program. “The response has been very positive,” Silk said. “Managers are extremely appreciative that this is available to them. We added a three-question questionnaire about how the managers felt and how applicable it is to their jobs. It was about relevance. It was about the applicability to their jobs and ease of navigation, and we are getting very good response.”
Silk said the hospital implemented the program about a month ago. However, it has been focusing on front-line management training for about the past year and a half. The hospital’s focus has included classroom-based training, which Silk said has also been receiving an excellent response. “We wanted to do just-in-time online modules as well,” Silk said. “We began looking for programs that had relevance, ease of navigation, and also include tools, tips and templates. We put together a committee of diverse users in the hospital to asses a number of products, and we decided to go with Harvard because once you understood how the basic layout was formatted, it was easy to follow, the topics were relevant and the tools were extremely helpful.”
Silk said the hospital decided to start with 23 modules that addressed general management topics. However, eventually more modules will be added that will contain more New-York-Presbyterian-specific information, she said. “We didn’t want to delay the launch while we were waiting for customization, so we started with 23.” These modules include topics such as leading and motivating, and managing conflict. According to Silk, health care executives at the hospital identified those two areas as the most relevant.
The online modules have lent themselves well to the health care industry because executives in the field are often pressed for time. “I think all managers in all industries are pressed for time to excel in all levels. But that dilemma is particularly felt more so in health care where taking patient care directors off the floors is a difficult balancing act,” Silk said. “So by having these modules online, we’re maximizing people’s flexibility. We’re using it as a blended learning vehicle for some of our classroom training. The modules will be used as pre-work before class. We’re cutting down where possible in face-to-face classroom training, and it’s being seen as a valuable resource for our managers.”
According to Gwen Gulick, publicist for HBSP, the health care industry has started to address the large skill gaps in the field. “The National Center for Health Care Leadership and other organizations like them have created competency models that map to certain management capabilities within the industry. Partly it’s competitive in nature, and partly it is a movement within the industry at large. The leading health organizations are moving very, very quickly in addressing these managerial needs. There’s a big, big skill gap,” Gulick said. “Medical professionals go through medical school and learn about the medical aspects, but they never learn about management aspects and how to run a business. (The industry) finally realized, ‘oh this is what’s broken.’ Part of the reason health care has gotten to the state it is today is because of the lack of identifying these skills gaps. You have people running hospitals that don’t know how to run a business.”
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