What will your legacy be?
February 24, 2012
What a night! It felt terrific to see over 700 clinicians and special guests at the GHP Annual Meeting on February 15. “A Legacy of Leadership” was our theme for the evening, touching on our shared past, present, and future.
There was a sense of living history in the room as we celebrated Group Health’s 65th birthday, and honored clinicians who have practiced here for more than half those years.
Our founding doctors in 1947.
Yet Group Health’s history is not the sole domain of a few “hall of famers.” Thousands of us, working in teams, have faced—and solved—the challenges of the different decades we’ve inhabited.
We talked about the 18 doctors from the Medical Security Clinic who formed our original group practice just after World War II.
Here they are in 1947: a pretty serious crew, don’t you think?
At the time, our founding physicians were scorned by established medical circles— even barred from practicing in some Seattle hospitals. Yet they stuck by what they valued most: prepaid coverage that could make health care affordable for more people, preventive care, and collaborative physician group practice.
They couldn’t see everything that was ahead—growing pains, setbacks, and successes—but they decided to be bold and try something new. They led.
It was really fun for me to have one of my own leadership mentors, Dr. Jack Cochran, as our keynote speaker. He’s got a huge job leading The Permanente Federation. This is an alliance of eight Kaiser Permanente regions containing 16,000 doctors and nearly nine million patients (GHP is an affiliate member of The Permanente Federation).
You can watch the video of Jack’s talk, so I won’t recap it here. But I do want to pass on some words of wisdom that weren’t in his speech.
He believes that medical organizations facing change (and we are facing a mountain of it) need to deeply understand their core business—their optimal model— and what they want to get out of it.
For Group Health, our core business is integration
- of finance & care
- of health plan & delivery system
- of products & benefits
- of care teams: that means with each other in Group Health Medical Centers, and in other sites where we practice.
And when an organization elects to divert from this core, Cochran says:
- Know that you’re doing it: awareness
- Be clear on why you’re doing it: reason
- Objectively measure the performance of the strategy: use data, track outcomes
- Learn from your measurement and react: check and adjust
I’m keeping this advice from Jack in mind as I work with the other members of Group Health’s Executive Leadership Team. Given the fast and furious changes in the health care market, we must evolve so we can continue to serve.
Moving forward is going to take both a commitment to our core, and a planned diversion from it. This means we must grow our owned and operated group practice, and open up to joint clinical ventures with doctors and delivery systems that are willing to collaborate as true partners.
As I said at the GHP Annual Meeting, to survive and navigate change, the coming months and years are going to require more leadership from of all of us. We’ll still have our individual jobs, and different levels of authority. That doesn’t change. What I’m talking about is leading from where you are.
What’s your legacy going to be? Because the present is, in fact, the legacy you leave.
Missed the event? Remarks and videos available here:
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