February 24, 2012
Our recent briefing What keeps a CEO up at night? all members – based on Jonathan Evans’ keynote address at our executive institute last week – prompted some great reader feedback. One issue that came up, sent to us from Greg T. Greenwood, chief executive officer of Human Capital Specialists, was one looking at focus. His comment – that what should keep CEO’s up at night is the cause of their management problems, or the need to “improve health care in the U.S. through innovating new and better ways to deliver quality health care and cover 40 million people without coverage.”
Dr. Greenwood went on to explain “I had concerns in 1986 about the disaster that was treatment for behavioral health. Those of you who remember those times, things were worse than they are today. However, personally I became involved to change legislation, specifically for parity, including consulting to HHS/NIMH on the eventual white paper that was prepared for Congress entitled, Parity in Financing Mental health Services: Managed Care Effects on Cost, Access & Quality . I also supplied data for the State of Texas Employees that demonstrated that parity can be provided at little or no additional costs. I also met with State legislators to provide expert input into the drafting of the legislation in Texas, one of the first states to implement a meaningful parity law.”
I don’t disagree with Dr. Greenwood’s comment that improving health care is an important goal; it’s is a goal that I think most Americans have (whether they work in the health care field or not). But, I think there are two important items to note when we talk about this issue.
The first is, I don’t think that Americans agree on how to improve health care – hence our current political dilemma. There is a wide disagreement that spans the political spectrum from advocates for a single payer system all the way to those people advocating voucher-based benefits only for poor citizens.
Secondly, at the end of the day CEOs of provider organizations must have a dual focus – policy and organizational management. On the policy side, to achieve improvements in health care, you certainly do what you can. But the reality of running an organization (my own, included) is that much of the policy environment is out of your control and if you’re going to continue to serve your customers, you have to operate in the reality of ‘what is.’
So what is the right balance for CEOs? How much time should be spent on the bigger picture policy issues that shape the environment and how much on the day-to-day management realities of their organizations? Not an easy question in theory or in practice…
Monica E. Oss
Chief Executive Officer, OPEN MINDS
For another free resource, see: Advice To Board Members: Eyes On, Hands Off all members