A new approach to assessing skill needs of senior managers.J Health Adm Educ. 2002 Winter; 20(1):75-98.JH
Management of health care organizations must improve to meet the well-documented challenges of quality improvement and cost control. Other industries have developed the tools--entry education, mentoring, planned mid-career formal education and experience, and special programs for senior management. The purpose of this paper is to pilot test an alternative method to identify competencies and performance of health care executives. We propose using formal lists of technical, interpersonal, and strategic competencies and specific real events chosen by the respondent to identify and prioritize competencies. Results of a trial with 30 large health care system CEOs and 15 early careerists demonstrate that the method reveals useful depth and detail about managers' educational needs. The results suggest that current thinking about managerial education and learning patterns may be seriously inadequate in several respects. The continued improvement of U.S. health care is a pressing national concern. Quality of care is highly variable and substantially deficient in many institutions (Chassin and Galvin 1998; Committee on Quality of Health Care in America 2001). "Quality improvement should be the essential business strategy for healthcare in the 21st century (Kizer 2001)." Productivity improvements will be essential to balance cost pressures from an aging population and growing technology (Heffler, et al. 2002). Skillful management is necessary to improve quality and productivity. Teams of dozens of caregivers are often required to improve a patient's health. The organizations that provide care have grown larger in response to the greater cost, complexity of operation and finance, and evidence of the success of scale in other industries. While many small professional practices, hospitals, and nursing homes remain, consolidation has created a few dozen provider and intermediary organizations exceeding a billion dollars a year in expenditures. These large health care organizations are, or should be, modern corporate organizations at least as effective as their counterparts in manufacturing, retailing, or finance. To achieve that goal, they will require managers with comparable ability, motivation, and preparation. The National Summit on The Future Of Health Management and Policy Education emphasized the development of "evidence-based management education" by identifying, prioritizing, and measuring mastery of specific skills, knowledge, and abilities (Griffith 2001). Faculty of Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) are working with practitioners to identify and prioritize specific learning competencies at the graduate degree level. Their effort focuses on skills teachable in the classroom, and it is expected to lead to measured performance of graduate school cohorts (Griffith 2001). The purpose of this paper is to pilot test an alternative method to identify competencies and performance of health care executives. Although it deliberately draws competency elements from academic sources, it supplements the teachable skills approach with a questionnaire that asks practitioner respondents to identify the skills and knowledge necessary to manage a specific management event and to evaluate the performance of an anonymous colleague against these skills and knowledge.