Health care can learn from Fortune 500 companies

  • Developing Successful Leaders: Lessons From Fortune 500 Companies
  • Tuesday, 1-2 p.m.
  • McCormick Place West, W475ab

Fortune 500 companies have developed tremendously successful business models that many health care organizations could emulate. A Tuesday session will look at how some of those business practices should be adopted in medicine.


Neil Farber, M.D., Ph.D.

“Traditionally, health care organizations have operated on their own terms and considered themselves different from other major businesses and corporations. From a leadership and management standpoint, they have acted differently and not really paid attention to corporate models,” said Neil Farber, M.D., Ph.D., who helped organize “Developing Successful Leaders: Lessons From Fortune 500 Companies.” “There are some important principles we can learn in the health care industry from larger, successful companies.”

One principle is employee engagement, which leads to greater efficiency, less job turnover and greater satisfaction, said Dr. Farber, an Adjunct Professor at Arizona State University.

“Those things correlate with how successful companies are in terms of revenue and cash flow. In anesthesia and health care systems, employee engagement correlates with decreased mistakes and adverse outcomes, and improved diagnoses,” he said. “Engagement is a huge issue because it does strongly correlate with productivity.”


Susan Staudt, M.D., M.S.Ed.

Communication is an area where many health care organizations struggle, said Susan Staudt, M.D., M.S.Ed., Associate Professor and Fellowship Program Director of Pediatric Anesthesia at Medical College of Wisconsin.

“We have come a long way in aspects of communication and interpersonal relations, yet we still struggle with the fact that as far as the patient getting seamless care, we have siloed forms of communication and miscommunication,” she said. “We will draw parallels between corporate cultures and where we stand in health care.”

One aspect of communication often overlooked is leadership training, which is available for free online, Dr. Staudt said. Several patient safety and health care foundations have developed courses and training videos.

“It is not what is communicated, it is what is not communicated or what is communicated too little, too late or in the wrong venue,” she said. “It is the failure to share the right stuff at the right time that can be just as harmful. We have to reach out across the perioperative teams to pre- and post-op providers.”


Samuel Wald, M.D., M.B.A.

Tapping those leadership training opportunities is important because leadership can be taught, said Samuel Wald, M.D., M.B.A., Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology and Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Perioperative and Interventional Services at Stanford University.

“Leadership is not necessarily an innate skill. We can be deliberate and mindful in how we approach explaining our mission and our vision,” he said. “There are ways to be inspirational and there are behavior modifications that have been shown to work for strong leaders.”

Among the topics he will address during the session are leadership competencies, how to create and direct a team, leadership models and tips on how to be inspirational.

“You can change your behavior to improve your leadership. You also can change the behavior of your team to make it successful by looking at what drives our actions,” Dr. Wald said.

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