In this Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association Webinar hosted by the Australian Centre for Value-Based Healthcare, Dr Jas Saini interviews Dr Jack Cochran, recently retired Executive Director of the Kaiser Permanente Foundation. In this interview, Dr Jack Cochran explores some of the concepts of his book, ‘Healer, Leader, Partner: Optimising Physician Leadership to Transform Healthcare’.

Despite numerous advances in health care, patients and their families continue to experience uneven quality and access, and health care systems are increasingly strained of resources and mechanisms to keep care affordable. Our patients rely on us to step forward, lean in and participate in new solutions and positively impact the lives of those providing and receiving care. Dr Cochran argues that winning for patients and families benefits all interests, and requires us to leverage our role as trusted healers and develop our roles as leaders and partners.

Dr Cochran’s book offers practical, actionable learning to help doctors become effective, compassionate and confident leaders, transforming healthcare into what patients want, need and deserve. We break it down into 8 simple things you can do right now to accelerate your effectiveness as a leader.

1. Dare to Innovate

  • We can not solve tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s solutions
  • Our patients experience health care physically, psychologically, socially, financially and in other ways. We need to step forward, lean in and participate in new solutions to new problems

2. Shift the focus to proactive, preventative health care

  • To ease the rising burden of chronic disease, we must tip the balance from episodic care to proactive, preventative primary and social care

3. Participate Actively

  • We have to reboot our leadership for the 21st century and be more involved in more issues that impact our patients – we can not sit on the sidelines when our patients have problems beyond just their immediate clinical issue
  • If we do nothing, our future will continue to be directed by others. Somebody else will fix things in a way that we may be unhappy about. Change, or be changed. Lean in and stay in the game

4. Listen with Intent

  • We have to be ready to listen, acknowledge, learn and challenge
  • We must learn to listen, collaborate, be clear, compassionate, strong and courageous in our ability to make decisions and lead. None of these skills are innate, much can be developed and are developed
  • It’s not listening waiting for your answer to have a moment for you to pounce. It’s listening to say “”. Good listening often uses the word “wow”
  • Value dissent and challenge cynicism
  • Sit back, reflect and let it simmer. Then, start the conversation

5. Embody Key Leadership Traits

  • Leaders must have integrity (trust is the currency of leadership), professional respect (if you’re not known as a good GP, it’s really hard to lead GPs), emotional intelligence (manage self, self-awareness, empathy), enterprise view (I’m not just here to protect my turf, builds credibility – the ability AND WILLINGNESS to influence and BE INFLUENCED), passion
  • Do not delegate the hard things

6. Create a Culture of Team-Based Care

  • Health care knowledge, information and technology has become increasingly complex demanding a shift from individually competent to team-based care
  • The old rule of individual competence doesn’t have enough power or capability to solve today’s much more complex problems.
  • This is a team sport, we need a system that is going to work together around a common, lofty goal – to save the health care professions for patients and families for patients and families so that we can get great safe care and we can eliminate some of the inequities and some of the other things that plague us
  • Keep in touch with your coalition of courageous colleagues
  • The practice of medicine is a healing art and we have to learn to work in teams

7. Adopt a Principle-Based Approach

  • Remember the 21 year old idealist
  • Health care is an honourable profession. We must work together to keep it honourable, sustainable, relevant and fun
  • There is no leadership vaccine – we must model the traits we would like others to develop, and we must live them
  • Set high standards, get ready to be challenged, and develop a team and culture that says, “help me, please”

8. Care for our Selves, Patients and Colleagues

  • We are not just here to heal our patients, we are also here to heal our friends, our colleagues and ourselves. More health professionals are over-frustrated than overworked
  • We health care professionals are not necessarily very good at treating ourselves and our colleagues well
  • We are trying to solve so many of these problems alone, and it’s just not enough, and we are burning out.