Ascension, the nation’s largest not-for-profit Catholic system recently split the title of president and CEO and unified its two-pronged structure. That will result in the departure of three top executives including Patricia Maryland, who has been at Ascension for 15 years, most recently in the role of CEO of the healthcare division. She’ll leave her post at the end of June. Joe Impicciche will serve in the new role of Ascension president and chief operating officer, leaving Anthony Tersigni with only the CEO title. The reorganization places new leaders in charge of making decisions that positions Ascension as focused on wellbeing. Maryland helped orchestrate the move and understood it would mean eliminating her position in the name of efficiency.

WHAT WAS YOUR RISKIEST DECISION? Playing a role in making sure Ascension evolves and doesn’t remain static. There were two things I wanted to accomplish during this two year contract as CEO of Ascension healthcare’s division. One, was ushering the next generation of leaders. The other was integrating the different divisions into “One Ascension.” These moves will help accelerate our strategic direction with a focus on quality of life and prevention rather than a reactive model focused on sickness.

WHY WAS THAT MOVE RISKY? Eliminating the divisions in our organization would allow us to create better strategy and execute more effectively to reach the goal above. It also gives us the opportunity to compel leaders to lead. Although this meant the elimination of my role, it will give me more time with my family and an opportunity to explore other ways to contribute to healthcare.

DESCRIBE THE OUTCOME Being positioned in a way to use all of the tools at our disposal to address chronic diseases in order to let people manage their health differently and provide those services upfront, I think over time will improve clinical outcomes as we create the best experience we can for our patients and our providers, while we move toward a more affordable healthcare system.

You have to be willing to not accept the status quo if you know that it’s not going to help make the organization move faster in the right direction.”

RESPONSE FROM THOSE INVOLVED The young leaders who are being asked to take on more responsibility are inspired toward the transformative work and initiatives. They see senior leaders stepping back and allowing them to step forward.

ADVICE TO EXECS IN SIMILAR POSITIONS I think you have to have courage to lead through change. You have to be willing to work past the status quo if you know that it is not going to help move the organization in the right direction. I think the courage to make those changes and set the tone establishes your leadership style.

DESCRIBE YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE I have strong relationships with others because it’s not just about management, it’s about the relationships you build with associates as well as with the key stakeholders and constituents that work with you. I think I’m a great role model because I really walk the talk. I’m proud of the programs I’ve been a part of creating that are aimed at supporting our next generation of leaders.

HOW WOULD OTHERS DESCRIBE IT? A servant leader who is authentic, self-aware, strategic, collaborative and data driven.

Bold Moves is a Modern Healthcare editorial feature. Sponsor is not involved in development of content or selection of authors.

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