California hospital alleges retaliation after seeking to end affiliation with Providence

Hoag Hospital by in Newport Beach, CA | ProView

After filing a lawsuit in May to end its affiliation with Renton, Wash.-based Providence, Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, Calif., is alleging it is now the target of retaliation, according to the Los Angeles Times.  

Hoag Memorial said that Providence removed Hoag Memorial’s three facilities from its website of Southern California locations and terminated Hoag Memorial’s specialists from St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare, a network of medical providers for managed care plans in Southern California. Additionally, Hoag Memorial said that Providence informed Heritage members they would lose access to Hoag’s 13 urgent care centers by Dec. 31. 

According to the report, Providence’s notice to patients that Hoag facilities and physicians would be dropped from its network all came in the fall of 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was the most inappropriate, inexplicable and harsh thing to do to a lot of patients,” Hoag President and CEO Robert Braithwaite told the Los Angeles Times. “Finding a new physician or new specialist is particularly hard on seniors and any patient who has a chronic condition and has established a long-term relationship with an endocrinologist or rheumatologist or cancer doctor.”

Providence told the Los Angeles Times it disagrees that patients have been disadvantaged.

“We are committed to the well-being of our communities and to serving patients with high quality and compassionate care,” a Providence spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times. 

Hoag Memorial has been affiliated with Providence, a Catholic health system, since 2016.

Hoag Memorial said the changes all came after the hospital sought to end its affiliation with Providence by filing a lawsuit. Hoag Memorial said in its lawsuit it is seeking to end the affiliation because Providence is undermining local decision-making and Catholic Church restrictions are expanding. 

Providence has fought Hoag’s lawsuit to end the affiliation. The health system claims Hoag doesn’t have the right to unilaterally dissolve the affiliation, and its board members don’t have the authority to file the lawsuit. An Orange County Superior Court judge rejected Providence’s argument Feb. 1 and scheduled another court hearing for March. 

What they don’t teach in school – Decision Making

https://interimcfo.wordpress.com/2021/01/04/what-they-dont-teach-in-school-decision-making/

Evidence-Based Decision Making. In our efforts to evolve our research… | by  Matthew Godfrey | Ingeniously Simple | Medium

Abstract:  This article is a continuation of the theme of ‘What they don’t teach in school.’ The subject of this article is the importance of the development of your decision-making skill.

In my article on career advancement, I observed the correlation between decision-making ability, career, and income level.  So how do you improve your decision making or cognitive ability?  Several strategies have proven successful for many people.  Unfortunately, most of them require doing something that can be very hard – exercising and expanding your brain.  Ziglar, Foreman others have argued that most of us rarely use more than 10% of our intellectual capacity at any given time so we have plenty of unexploited potential.  So how do you develop your cognitive capability?  One thing for me was taking courses in software development.  The most challenging course I encountered in college was a computer programming course that I took as an elective!  Computers do not do what you intend; they do exactly what you tell them.  Computer programming requires the development of precise and highly structured instruction sets.  The skillset required to develop computer code has excellent application to problem-solving that goes along with improved decision making.

One day, I was sitting in a conference room in a Catholic hospital listening to debate about whether or not to buy upgraded lights for neurosurgery operating rooms or continue pouring money into a failed clinical program.  The longer this discussion went on, the more frustrated I became.  Finally, when I could take no more, I accused the leadership team of decision making on a scale that ran from the Ouija Board to a Magic Eight Ball.  The reaction that provoked surprised me.  I had no idea Catholics did not like Ouija Boards, and I had heard about being excoriated by a Nun, but I had not yet had the experience.  I asked the Nun whether or not she thought it was important for a neurosurgeon to be able to see what he was doing in the OR?

Interestingly, some of the young people in the room had no idea what a magic eight ball was.  In the ensuing discussion, I reminded the leadership team that their continuing, collective engagement in non-evidence-based, politicized, expeditious decision-making was too often focused on non-strategic initiatives or lost causes instead of pursuing the best interests of the institution and its patients.  I told the group that this type of reasoning was one of the primary reasons the organization had come to make my acquaintance in the first place.  I am lucky I did not get fired on the spot, but everyone in that room that day learned something.  For the leadership team, the lesson was that they had to resolve to do a better job making decisions.  I have argued that an organization’s performance, however that is measured, is a direct function of the efficacy of the leadership team’s decision-making.  To this day, I keep a Magic Eight Ball on my desk.  It reminds me of my innocent dispassion about Catholics’ sensitivity to something as simple as an Ouija Board and my admonition to that leadership team and myself never to stop improving decision-making capability.

Another of the things that have helped me a lot is the study of ‘sadistics.’ I know.  The mediocre performance of my first and second articles on this topic is sufficient evidence of how well accepted this idea is.  I will not try to sell you on this idea again other than observing that statistics arose from the need for an objective structure to analyze and interpret data.  If this is not improved decision making, I do not know what is.

Self-study helps decision making.  There are books, articles, and other resources available for research to better understand topics that you do not comprehend as well as you envision.  Two of my favorite resources are Wikipedia and YouTube.  What you can find is amazing.  While some concepts can be hard to read and grasp at first, academic articles can be beneficial, especially if you understand the underlying statistical analysis.  In an earlier post, I referenced an article on Normative Decision Theory by Chua.  This research looks into how people make decisions in the absence of complete information.  When was the last time you had complete information at the point you had to make a decision?  There is never enough time or information. Decisions regularly occur in situations where data is incomplete and may be inaccurate.  Improving your ability to make better calls in this fog is crucial to leadership at higher levels.

To be sure, collegiate courses help improve your cognitive abilities, although plenty of University programs fall way short of achieving cognitive gains in decision-making ability among their graduates.  I think the issue is not so much with what you know but how well you learn to apply academic and theoretical intelligence to real-world problems and challenges.  Everyone would be better served if more university programs offered courses focused on applied decision making.  My practice has convinced me that one of the critical factors that lead to unacceptable organizational performance is a consistent track record of decision making that does not produce the expected results.

In undergraduate school, I took an elective course on logic.  I can’t remember what I was thinking when I made this decision, but like many of my electives, this one ended up requiring a disproportionate amount of time and energy.  However, the return on investment has been immense.  Not only did I learn a lot about disciplined decision making, I learned how to spot flaws in arguments whose logic is not sound.  The study of logic is vital if you ever intend to spend time developing computer code.

Since college, I discovered philosophy, which most liberal arts students have in their core curriculum.  You could spend a lifetime studying Socrates, Aristotle, and other philosophers that advanced society by advocating for the cause of beneficial argument and probing assumptions.  If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Plato and let me know if it changes your life.

Finally, the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Doctorate in Healthcare Administration program mantra is, ‘Evidence-Based Decision Making in Healthcare Administration.’ As is the case in other disciplines, academics worldwide are conducting research in healthcare administration and continually publishing learning that is beneficial to practitioners.  Sadly, I cannot remember a case where a leader stopped a team in the process of making a decision and sent them to the literature to find all available evidence on the topic before committing to a course of action.  Then they are surprised when things do not work out as they expect?

One of the ironies of healthcare is that physicians and other clinicians are deeply ingrained with objective, evidence-based decision-making theory and practice.  One of the reasons that clinicians get so frustrated with healthcare administrators is when they see what appears (accurately) to them be malaise in organizational decision-making.  A couple of one-liners come to mind.  The road to failure is paved with good intentions.  The road to disaster is littered with run-over squirrels.

The upshot of all of this is that your preparation for higher stakes decision making supports career advancement aspirations.  I promise you that anything you do to improve your decision-making ability will serve you very well long into the future.

Contact me to discuss any questions or observations you might have about these articles, leadership, transitions, or interim services.  I might have an idea or two that might be valuable to you.  An observation from my experience is that we need better leadership at every level in organizations.  Some of my feedback comes from people who are demonstrating an interest in advancing their careers, and I am writing content to address those inquiries.

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Decision-making amid COVID-19: 6 takeaways from health system CEOs and CFOs

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/decision-making-amid-covid-19-6-takeaways-from-health-system-ceos-and-cfos.html?utm_medium=email

Alignment between CEOs and CFOs has become even more essential during the pandemic.

Many health systems halted elective surgeries earlier this year at the height of the pandemic to conserve resources while caring for COVID-19 patients. Now, in many areas, those procedures are returning and hospitals are slowly resuming more normal operations. But damage has been done to the hospital’s bottom line. Moving forward, the relationship between top executives will be crucial to make the right decisions for patients and the overall health of their organizations.

During the Becker’s Healthcare CEO+CFO Virtual Forum on Aug. 11, CEOs and CFOs for top hospitals and health systems gathered virtually to share insights and strategies as well as discuss the biggest challenges ahead for their institutions. Click here to view the panels on-demand.

Here are six takeaways from the event:

1. The three keys to a strong CEO and CFO partnership are trust, transparency and communication.

2. It’s common for a health system CEO and CFO to have different priorities and different opinions about where investments should be made. To help come to an agreement, they should look at every decision as if it’s a decision being made by the organization as a whole and not an individual executive. For example, there are no decisions by the CFO. There are only decisions by the health system. The CFOs said it’s important to remember that the patient comes first and that health systems don’t exist to make money.

3. Technology has of course been paramount during the pandemic in terms of telehealth. But so are nontraditional partnerships with other health systems that have allowed providers to share research and education.

4. When it comes to evaluating technology, there’s a difference between being on the cutting edge versus the bleeding edge. Investing in new technology requires firm exit strategies. If warning signs show an investment is not going to give the return a health system hoped for, they need to let go of ideals and stick to the exit strategy.

5. Communication and transparency with staff and the public is key while making challenging decisions. Many hard decisions, including furloughs or personnel reductions, were made this spring to protect the financial viability of healthcare organizations. These decisions, which were not made lightly, were critiqued highly by the public. One of the best ways to ensure the message was not getting lost in translation and to help navigate the criticism included creating a communication plan and sharing that with employees, physicians and the public.

6. The pandemic required hospitals to think on their feet and innovate quickly. Many of the usual ways to solve a problem could not be used during that time. For example, large systems had to rethink how to acquire personal protective gear. Typically, in a large health system amid a disaster, when a supply item is running low, organizations can call up another hospital in the network and ask them to send some supplies. However, everyone in the pandemic was running low on the same items, which required innovation and problem-solving that is outside of the norm.

 

 

 

The Fed’s independence helped it save the US economy in 2008 – the CDC needs the same authority today

https://theconversation.com/the-feds-independence-helped-it-save-the-us-economy-in-2008-the-cdc-needs-the-same-authority-today-142593

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The image of scientists standing beside governors, mayors or the president has become common during the pandemic. Even the most cynical politician knows this public health emergency cannot be properly addressed without relying on the scientific knowledge possessed by these experts.

Yet, ultimately, U.S. government health experts have limited power. They work at the discretion of the White House, leaving their guidance subject to the whims of politicians and them less able to take urgent action to contain the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines only to later revise them after the White House intervened. The administration has also undermined its top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, over his blunt warnings that the pandemic is getting worse – a view that contradicts White House talking points.

And most recently, the White House stripped the CDC of control of coronavirus data, alarming health experts who fear it will be politicized or withheld.

In the realm of monetary policy, however, there is an agency with experts trusted to make decisions on their own in the best interests of the U.S. economy: the Federal Reserve. As I describe in my recent book, “Stewards of the Market,” the Fed’s independence allowed it to take politically risky actions that helped rescue the economy during the financial crisis of 2008.

That’s why I believe we should give the CDC the same type of authority as the Fed so that it can effectively guide the public through health emergencies without fear of running afoul of politicians.

 

The paradox of expertise

There is a paradox inherent in the relationship between political leaders and technical experts in government.

Experts have the training and skill to apply scientific knowledge in complex biological and economic systems, yet democratically elected political leaders may overrule or ignore their advice for ill or good.

This happened in May when the CDC, the federal agency charged with controlling the spread of disease, removed advice regarding the dangers of singing in church choirs from its website. It did not do so because of new evidence. Rather, it was because of political pressure from the White House to water down the guidance for religious groups.

Similarly, the White House undermined the CDC’s guidance on school reopenings and has pressured it to revise them. So far, it seems the CDC has rebuffed the request.

The ability of elected leaders to ignore scientists – or the scientists’ acquiescence to policies they believe are detrimental to public welfare – is facilitated by many politicians’ penchant for confident assertion of knowledge and the scientist’s trained reluctance to do so.

Compare Fauci’s repeated comment that “there is much we don’t know about the virus” with President Donald Trump’s confident assertion that “we have it totally under control.”

 

Experts with independence

Given these constraints on technical expertise, the performance of the Fed in the financial crisis of 2008 offers an informative example that may be usefully applied to the CDC today.

The Federal Reserve is not an executive agency under the president, though it is chartered and overseen by Congress. It was created in 1913 to provide economic stability, and its powers have expanded to guard against both depression and crippling inflation.

At its founding, the structure of the Fed was a political compromise designed make it independent within the government in order to de-politicize its economic policy decisions. Today its decisions are made by a seven-member board of governors and a 12-member Federal Open Market Committee. The members, almost all Ph.D. economists, have had careers in academia, business and government. They come together to analyze economic data, develop a common understanding of what they believe is happening and create policy that matches their shared analysisThis group policymaking is optimal when circumstances are highly uncertain, such as in 2008 when the global financial system was melting down.

The Fed was the lead actor in preventing the system’s collapse and spent several trillion dollars buying risky financial assets and lending to foreign central banks – decisions that were pivotal in calming financial markets but would have been much harder or may not have happened at all without its independent authority.

The Fed’s independence is sufficiently ingrained in our political culture that its chair can have a running disagreement with the president yet keep his job and authority.

 

Putting experts at the wheel

A health crisis needs trusted experts to guide decision-making no less than an economic one does. This suggests the CDC or some re-imagined version of it should be made into an independent agency.

Like the Fed, the CDC is run by technical experts who are often among the best minds in their fields. Like the Fed, the CDC is responsible for both analysis and crisis response. Like the Fed, the domain of the CDC is prone to politicization that may interfere with rational response. And like the Fed, the CDC is responsible for decisions that affect fundamental aspects of the quality of life in the United States.

Were the CDC independent right now, we would likely see a centralized crisis management effort that relies on the best science, as opposed to the current patchwork approach that has failed to contain the outbreak nationally. We would also likely see stronger and consistent recommendations on masks, social distancing and the safest way to reopen the economy and schools.

Independence will not eliminate the paradox of technical expertise in government. The Fed itself has at times succumbed to political pressure. And Trump would likely try to undermine an independent CDC’s legitimacy if its policies conflicted with his political agenda – as he has tried to do with the central bank.

But independence provides a strong shield that would make it much more likely that when political calculations are at odds with science, science wins.