The health care system in the United States has been going through some dramatic organizational changes. They now employ a service line management approach to focus on consumer choice and quality, rather than cost containment. Under the service line management approach, all the major functions of a hospital or a health care system are viewed as independent mini businesses, having their own employees, customers, competitors and markets.
The advantage of this method is that each function is able to focus on the profitability and growth of key activities. Another advantage was for patients who required only a single type of health care service like maternal-child care. This management approach gave them a one-stop shop. Moreover, the effects of this approach are long- term. Not only are managers able to focus on cutting costs, but they are also able to monitor the growth of their services. Furthermore, as resources reduce in the future, this approach will help in establishing priorities, as all the processes will be evaluated for the contribution to the organization.
However, to successfully implement this approach greater coordination and communication was required between service lines. The need for strategic decision making also increased. Hence, the need for leadership in health care organizations has increased dramatically.
Guo and Anderson (2005) have argued that this major organizational shift requires a new kind of leadership skills. The new leader will be more transformational in nature. His role will be to empower the employees and pride in their participation. The organizational structure will also become flatter to accommodate team based practices. The authors argue that the four essential competencies required by managers in such organizations are conceptual, participation, interpersonal and leadership.
A conceptually competent manager knows that the sum is more than the parts. He is not only responsible for his behavior, but also responsible for the people under him.
He understands that his job is not only to manage the current processes, but it’s also to develop a vision that is aligned with the personal goals of the employees and the organization as a whole. He is focused on the big picture, and focuses on how each of his process impacts the organization. Lastly, competent managers not only focus on his area of responsibility but goes out of the way to network and build teams with other service lines within the organization.
A second competency managers should have is participation, which involves employee involvement, and empowerment. This will help employees find meaning to their roles, which will increase their productivity and efficiency. An example of this competency would be when managers involve employees in discussions and inform them their economic goals, along with any other technological advances that are being implemented that might affect them.
A third competence is of interpersonal communication. One of the most important roles for a manager is to motivate its employees. One way to do that is to communicate with them effectively. He should facilitate and coach them on problems, and guide their performance. Another aspect of communication is to listen effectively. This means that the leader should be sensitive to feelings, situations and thoughts of his employees. For example, he should never reprimand an employee in front of another employee or a patient.
The last essential competence that managers should have is of leadership. This is perhaps that most important competence, as the service line management approach requires effective coordination between service lines. The manager should be able to provide a vision to his staff, and motivate them. He should provide the information , and resources for effective work of his employees, rather than micro-managing everything.
Guo, K. L., & Anderson, D. (2005). The new health care paradigm: Roles and competencies of leaders in the service line management approach. International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, 18(6/7), XII-XX. Retrieved July 12, 2010, from the ProQuest database