Dr. Harrison on Clinical Leadership Featured in British Medical Journal

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Marc Harrison, MD, talked about his shift from pediatrician to leadership including becoming CEO of Intermountain Healthcare and how it was “by accident.” 

From Doctor to Leader

Now through a career as a healthcare leader he is noticing an appreciation by some providers of having a doctor as a leader.

He questioned the thought of there being a potential correlation with a good doctor becoming a strong leader. He went in-depth and researched these thoughts that were published in the BMJ Leader - a journal focusing on healthcare leadership. The article, “Future of Clinical Leadership: Saving Our Greatest Intensity for Human Beings,” is analytical research for healthcare leaders.

“Good doctors put patients first and advocate for them. They know their science and get good outcomes. Good doctors are compassionate and always have the courage to do the right thing. And, though sometimes obscured in the iconic conceptions of ‘heroic’ doctors, I would also argue that great clinicians have a deep understanding and unassailable faith in the potential of high-performing teams over individual stars,” wrote Dr. Harrison in the BMJ Leader.

“The best doctors today bring a tenacity to building great teams, and they find ways to optimize the skills of superstars and balance them with the very best that everyone on the team has to offer. And they keep the focus where it should be, on the patient.”

Although his research does not show an absolute answer. There is also a fundamental shift happening that can be a negative effect from these leadership changes. Dr. Harrison noticed that meetings among providers were bringing up topics in the administrative realm instead of more patient-centric conversations.

“These events are organized so we can learn from each other, and I'm always impressed by the level of expertise of the participants. I can't help noticing, though, that increasingly these discussions focus largely on markets, market share, mergers, joint ventures, cost pressures and competition—in other words, the money stuff. The financial realities and challenges are daunting, to be sure, but is this focus the future of clinical leadership? If so, it may be a bleak one,” wrote Dr. Harrison.

To read the entire journal article, visit the BMJ Leader website