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Open Mike - 2012

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.
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:

Rosemary Daskiewicz's remarks (pdf) / video
Dr. Barbara Detering’s remarks (pdf) / video
Dr. Michael Soman's remarks (pdf) / video
Keynote speaker Jack Cochran, MD, FACS video

Open Mike Articles
  • 2012  
  • |  2011  
  • |  2010  
The Path To The Best Care At Lower Cost   12/01/2012
The US spends $2.7 trillion on health care every year. If our collective wallets feel lighter, that’s because $304 billion comes out of our own pockets. How can these kinds of costs be brought under control, without sacrificing quality of care?

Certainty   09/04/2012
Sustaining momentum in uncertain times can be hard, but one way to keep it up is to celebrate progress. I’m really proud to call your attention to a study published in Health Affairs today.

Affordable Care Act ruling brings stronger imperative to transform health care  07/11/2012
As important as the Supreme Court Ruling is for the future of health care, it’s really just one step in a process that started before the Affordable Care Act passed and will continue for a long time to come.

Only connect 05/16/2012
This spring I spent five weeks in clinical immersion all over our system. I had 34 small-group discussions with 172 different clinicians. In March, I shared some early insights at the half-way point. Now I want to wrap up everything I heard.

What if? 04/11/2012
What if the “new normal” doesn’t feel normal at all, for many years? I try to remind myself and others that the current turmoil in health care is driven by market forces—not politics—and can only be solved by directly addressing the market. Our “new normal” is all about reaching across silos to work with partners in new ways.

Business problem? Diagnose it.
03/21/2012
I’m about halfway through my 2012 clinical immersion. When I tried this last year it was new for all of us, and it felt right to start our conversations around values. This year I'm trying to dig a little deeper.

Performance matters  10/19/2011
Only nine Medicare Advantage plans in the country earned 5 stars overall, and Group Health Cooperative’s Medicare Advantage plan is one of them!

Looking back, and ahead: reflections on my first three years  9/17/2011
The last three years have passed quickly, largely because I’ve had such an amazing group of people to work with. What you’re capable of no longer surprises me. It inspires me.

Our people are our culture, and we’re constantly evolving  8/17/2011
One thing I’ve noticed since my last Q&A on Group Health culture with Scott Armstrong is that conversations like ours are spreading.

More than elbow room  7/6/2011
Growth is a good problem to have in turbulent economic times. But as I’ve heard in medical staff business meetings and conversations, growth is hard on daily life at work.

Erikson and Soman on partnership and growth  6/15/2011
Sustaining growth isn’t about Michael and I being leaders; it’s about teams of seasoned, excellent colleagues and leaders and clinical teams. We both have tremendous confidence in them.

The good, the bad and everything in between  5/11/2011
I went all over the state in March, talking with small groups of GHP physicians and other clinicians about critical issues. 

Why are we here?  3/23/2011
Easily eight out of ten of you mention that our philosophy of medicine—the way we practice—drew you here. And paired with the people and relationships in your workplaces, it’s a major thing that keeps you here.

Culture at Group Health: 7 questions for Scott & Michael  3/9/2011
Scott and I kicked off some fresh thinking about culture and respect for people at our Leadership Conference about five weeks ago. Recently, we sat down to check in with each other about it.

Put some passion in your workplace 2/17/2011
What satisfies you, motivates you, or makes you want to tell your friends and family about your day? Do you know how your co-workers would answer these questions? Talk to each other to learn from each other.

Sometimes growth don't feel like it should  1/28/2011
We know that taking on new patients—and engaging them in their own good health—takes time. But it’s what’s unique and important about our kind of medicine.

What will it take? You.  12/1/2010
About 350 leaders from the Group Practice and throughout Group Health gathered for the Group Practice Annual Fall Forum on November 12.

Demystifying clinical integration
11/3/2010
Clinical integration is the key, so let’s define what that phrase means.

Step back and take it all in. You’re making great things happen.  10/21/2010
In the last issue of Open Mike we had just learned that we had won the 2010 Acclaim Award from the American Medical Group Association.

Group Health sees a big jump in NCQA private plan rankings  9/22/2010
Group Health is one of the highest rated health plans and among the top 50 in the nation, according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

Innovation is where we shine  9/8/2010
I am very excited to share that the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) has honored our work with its 2010 Acclaim Award.

Notes from the Colorado Health Symposium  8/11/2010
During the last week of July I traveled to the Colorado Health Foundation’s annual symposium in Keystone, CO.

Measuring up  7/28/2010
Quality. Ask a hundred people to define it, and you’ll get a hundred answers.

The risk and opportunity of Accountable Care Organizations
6/30/2010
Shared values, physician-led care models, and aligned incentives can bridge the distance between organizations in the world of accountable care.

Let’s start a conversation about our workplace  4/4/2010
People are our most important resource, our “secret sauce.”

Decreasing “unwarranted” variation in clinical care  3/24/2010
As you read this, we are in the midst of unprecedented reform to our national health care system.

Making the transition from “I” to “we”
2/10/2010
Last night the Group Health Permanente Annual Meeting left me feeling inspired and confident.

Looking ahead to 2010  1/13/2010
First, for 2010, our goal is as follows: We will lead the top delivery system in the state.

Other GHP Leadership Publications