Essential qualities for successful orthopedic leaders: 5 executives weigh in


Today's healthcare leaders are required to perform their duties while navigating a difficult and changing environment.

Adaptability, strong communication skills and open-mindedness are among the qualities executives need to thrive in today's challenging landscape, according to five leaders from orthopedic groups across the country.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: What skills are critical for healthcare leaders to thrive in today's environment?

Allison Farmer. CEO at EmergeOrtho (Durham, N.C.): Successful healthcare leaders must be open-minded, adaptable and foster a collaborative and cooperative environment. As leaders, we must balance our emotional intelligence with the drive to overcome unforeseen obstacles. A strong leader has the ability to grow a personal and professional relationship with team members, like-minded organizations and the community to achieve objectives.

Andre Blom. CEO at Illinois Bone and Joint Institute (Des Plaines): I believe the most important attribute is to understand with a strong sense of humility that success does not depend on the efforts of one person. It takes a team. Therefore, you must recognize and constantly study that fact, share in the wins and losses, support as needed and develop as much talent as close to the patient visit as possible. No one comes to IBJI to see the CEO — they come to receive care from our physicians and team members. That's where the energy should be. Whatever skills are needed for that, do so.

Nicholas Grosso, MD. President at Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics (Bethesda, Md.): The current healthcare environment is ever changing, so being flexible and having the right mindset for change is critical to success. Leaders in healthcare must also have strong communication skills. Here at CAO, we're most successful at implementing change when we communicate the "why" behind decisions to ensure all team members are involved and can rally behind new strategies or investments. 

Ed Hellman, MD. President and interim CEO at OrthoIndy (Indianapolis): It has to start with an understanding of the entire business environment. As a physician, it's really easy to focus on day-to-day operations and what directly affects our patients and our practices, but in order to lead the organization you need a much more global view of things. I also think that there needs to be an understanding that you can't go it alone. Success is a team sport, so you need to have an open outlook in terms of talking with other groups, facilities and interested parties in the community. You need to have that negotiation ability as well as the ability to bring teams together to be successful.

Kim Mikes, BSN, RN. CEO at Hoag Orthopedic Institute (Irvine, Calif.): I believe that having both a clinical and business background is extremely beneficial in leading a healthcare organization. Being able to look at an issue and make operational and strategic decisions with both a clinical/quality and a financial lens is invaluable. It enables you to "talk the language" of both clinical and financial team members and physicians, garnering credibility and respect. It is also critical to stay informed of healthcare trends and to be able to quickly make changes. Understanding the business at its core allows for rapid execution when needed. 

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