August 6, 2013

What is “Fear” doing in our Industry?

Mark Bethell

“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy.”  ― Yann Martel

No one will dispute the fact that these are uncertain times in healthcare. It is almost scary to try and predict where healthcare will be in five years, what about three years, or, even worse, one year. Healthcare reform has continued to move forward, without any care for how we, the leaders of this industry, will adapt. The pace continues to quicken, and experts are popping up as fast as they are falling. The cold hard truth is that we are playing darts in a very dark room, all the while convincing each other that there is light somewhere, and someone will turn it on.

Almost universally, everyone I talk to agrees that, until we as a nation deal with tort reform, we will never get at the root of the issue of how to solve healthcare costs. Sadly, the decision makers who control healthcare reform will never go near that for “fear” of making enemies that will cost them their political careers.

Funny word, this “fear.” It is a word that I hear my children use all the time, but the fact is that, even as adults, we “fear.” If you are a CEO in any hospital or Health System right now, you probably know this word quite well. We often ignore its gnawing presence in our public lives, but behind closed doors, or in the wee hours of the morning, it reminds us that we are vulnerable as leaders to everything bad going on in the industry, yet we are also expected (as leaders always are) to lead our organization through it. However, all it takes is one or two angry doctors who don’t agree with the direction you are taking your organization who can quickly, and quite decidedly, create fear in your organization, and you, the CEO, can quickly find yourself expendable. It does not matter anymore if you are doing the right thing. You can be replaced for any reason whatsoever, and we all know it. In fact, we all “fear” it.

Stay tuned for more from Mark Bethell’s “Fear” in our next newsletter.

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