Monday, December 5, 2011

Blog Vacation

Hello all! So I realize I have not written in a while, and will probably not write in at least the next month. With the holidays, and moving to start my administrative fellowship. I thought of just calling it quits on the blog altogether, but will wait to see how my time commitments shape out next year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The passion behind a presentation

Last week, I gave a presentation of a case study. It was an interesting experience to work with my friends to come up with compelling arguments despite none of us having any real interest in the topic of Accountable Care Organizations. My professor asked us to then view the recording of our presentation and critique ourselves. My main conclusion:
Presentations are an outward expression of our passion (or lack of) for a specific topic.
A few weeks before, I presented on the topic of ePatients as mentioned in my previous post, and that was a great presentation because of the enthusiasm I have for the subject material. I decided I would like to share the written critique I sent to my professor, in hopes of helping all of us understand how to improve our public speaking and presentation skills.


Reflecting on our presentation gave me an opportunity to go beyond the surface of my presentation skills, and really assess my passions and what I enjoy most. What I realized is my presentation skills and abilities are greatly improved by one single factor. Do I care about the subject material? Now, let me be clear, I did care about this case competition, but talking about ACOs was not as exciting to me as speaking about engaging patients in healthcare and patient satisfaction. As I thought about my presentation last week and compared it to our Futurescan presentation, I recognized the important factor of passion, which was significantly lacking during our case presentation.
In the case competition, I could not seem to stop saying “umm.” Why? Because I was not completely confident in the material I was sharing. I feel the issue of confidence was the reason for a number of my weaknesses coming out through that presentation. I was constantly looking back at the screen as a crutch to ensure I was talking about the right things. So much of the material we had was so vague and lacking, that it was difficult for me to be confident in regards to our subject.
This presentation was filled with information, simply lots of details because it is hard to summarize an ACO in just 20 minutes. With the ACO rule being over 600 pages, it is difficult to summarize something of this magnitude in such a short amount of time. Because of that, I rushed; you could tell I was just trying to fly through the information rather than ensure my audience was retaining and understanding the material. I felt I was just presenting material, and never really considered what the audience would be seeking to gain from the presentation. A good presenter establishes the purpose of his or her presentation at the beginning of the project, thus enabling him or her to focus on what matters most, and allows them to predict the questions the audience will ask.
Despite the vocal cues of uncertainty, I felt I was able to speak clearly and loudly in order for the audience to understand and hear what I was saying. I was able to visually connect with each individual in the room, when I was not looking back to the screen, and I was able to use my hands in a less distracting way than I have done in past presentations.
In conclusion, I realize the need, as Mr. Zucker stated, to become an expert in the subject matter, but first I need to gain a passion for the material. In the workplace, I know I will be given topics to present that will bore me, but I can find a passion for them as I understand the implications of those topics.

Strategies for Improvement

First, the one thing that bugged me the most from a technical standpoint was my looking at the screen after I made each point. I did have my presentation memorized, and need to stop looking at it. To me, I just need to have the confidence that I remember what is on each slide.
Technicalities aside, I would hope to find topics that interest me and enable me to transform that passion into a better presentation. As I mentioned, that may not always be the case, and as such, I will do more research on the topic. To me, I should have gone beyond my internet research and learned more from executives in the field, and in essence, borrowed some of their excitement for the topic. I really feel the power of presentation is based on the level of preparation on the part of the presenter. Preparation includes establishing a clear purpose at the beginning of the research and planning stages, and constantly referring back to that purpose. I will seek to write a purpose statement for each project I am involved in that I can refer to throughout a project.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Professional Organizations

My most popular post is finding an internship. I think more and more people are looking at getting into hospital administration, but are unsure of where to start. Just like any other journey it always starts with one step. Throughout the whole journey, one word you will hear again and again is networking. I often feel like this is an overused term, but the longer I have been in the field, the more I have realized the power behind it.

I think the best area to start is professional organizations within the industry:

  • American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE): First, don't call it ache, like you have a head-ache. It's pronounced A.C.H.E. This is the most common organization. There are local chapters that have regular networking events and educational seminars. Even if the seminar topics look way over your head, you will learn a lot, and have the opportunity to meet some great people. ACHE also has a great student site that would be well worth your time to start looking into. Students can join ACHE for $75, which is well worth the cost.
  • Medical Group Management Association (MGMA): The pronunciation should be obvious. This is a more specific organization to managers of physician group practices, whether specialty, primary care, or other organizations that employ physician or run physician clinics. The student rate is only $35 dollars and gives you access to reports, databases, and opportunities for networking.
  • Healthcare Financial Managemnt Association (HFMA): I do not know a lot about this group other than executives who work closely with the finances of their organization have found it to be an important aspect of their career. Students can become e-members for free. What a deal!
  • HIMSS: This is the IT organization for the industry. There is a lot to learn here and students can be members for only $30.
All of these organizations are worthy of further research. I have found my membership in ACHE to complement my academic studies. I have met many people who have been very willing to answer questions, and give me insight and advice to better prepare me for my internship.

Finally, if you do join these organizations, find their groups on linkedin and join the discussions. This gives you visibility and an opportunity to connect with more than you could attending every event these organizations sponsor.

I would love to have any comments of how your membership in professional organizations has aided your career.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hospital Admin Students and ePatients

I am in my last semester of the didactic portion of my education in hospital administration. In just 3 months, me and my 23 classmates will hit the workforce through residencies, fellowships, and jobs. Despite all the projects, case studies, and journal articles we have been through, I feel one area that has been neglected is understanding the patient, and why patients think the way they do.

In our capstone course, our group was asked to present on current issues impacting healthcare. We discussed four different types of patients, and I was more than eager to spend as much time as possible discussing the need for collaboration between physicians and patients. 

Our presentation stimulated engagement from a class that is ready to be out of the classroom and in the workforce (a form of senioritis for graduate students). We received more discussion and questions than I have seen any group in any of our classes receive. Here are a few questions that surfaced during the presentation:

  • Can patients go too far and be too demanding?
  • What can we, as future hospital administrators, do to facilitate a collaborative effort with patients and providers?
  • And the miracle question, how will this impact cost, increase access and quality?

These were questions that can all be answered by a simple statement that has been repeated by many:

When you put the patient first, everything else falls into place.

Based on the reception we received, I feel we were able to get some students thinking, and to me that is the start of success. When we focus on the business of healthcare, which is a vital part of the system, we forget the reason we are in business. My hope throughout this presentation was to spark some thoughts of how we as early careerists in hospital administration can challenge the status quo. We, as future leaders in healthcare, have a great opportunity to learn specific delivery models, but more importantly, how to change delivery models to make care more patient-centered.

I wish I had some pictures (especially since we all matched), but I do apologize for that. I was not ready for it the presentation to be so well received.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

From executive to patient

I read a great story of a hospital administrator's perspective on becoming a patient. We often think we know everything a patient needs, but being a patient gives us an opportunity to ask, do we really know what patients want.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


As I have been working on a project for my current issues class, I have had the opportunity to research a lot about patients collaborating with physicians. Many epatient advocates argue the need for doctors to share information with them, instead of approaching the patient in a paternalistic attitude. I love how this video discusses the need for information in our health care system.

Friday, September 16, 2011


When I first decided I wanted to get into healthcare, I began looking at blogs of hospital administrators, and researching current trends. Health reform was being debated all over the media, but a growing group of what we call e-patients was developing. I have been very intrigued with this trend in healthcare and am excited to see how it will grow.

The whole idea behind e-patients is moving from the doctor/provider in a paternal role, to the patient and provider working together to provide the proper treatment and therapy for the patient. One of the well-known advocates I have found is Dave deBronkart. The following excerpt is taking from his website.

“e-Patient Dave” deBronkart was diagnosed in January 2007 with Stage IV, Grade 4 renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) at a very late stage. His median survival time at diagnosis was just 24 weeks; with tumors in both lungs, several bones, and muscle tissue, his prognosis was “grim,” as one web site described it.
He received great treatment at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: his surgeon removed the extensive mess (laparoscopically!), and the Biologic Therapy program helped him participate in a clinical trial for the powerful but severe High Dosage Interleukin-2 (HDIL-2). His last treatment was July 23, 2007, and by September it was clear he’d beaten the disease. His remaining lesions have continued to shrink.

Today: Advocate and Activist

An accomplished speaker and writer in his professional life before his illness, today Dave is actively engaged in opening health care information directly to patients on an unprecedented level, thus creating a new dynamic in how information is delivered, accessed and used by the patient. This is revolutionizing the relationship between patient and health care providers, which in turn will impact insurance, careers/jobs, quality of life and the distribution of finances across the entire spectrum of health care."

The main organization one should look into is the Society for Participatory Medicine
The whole idea behind collaborative healthcare is genius. Growing up with a diabetic brother, has helped me realize the need for engaged patients, as well as understand how a physician committed to patient collaboration can improve the health status of their patients.