Antwerp Management School offers healthcare as one of its leadership specializations. Hospitals face many challenges and changes, so there is an urgent need for leaders who can bridge the gap between their professional work and the complexities of hospital management. We discuss with Tom David Van Meel, Assistant Medical Director at AZ Klina, how AMS helps the hospital meet this challenge.For some years, AMS has run a Clinical Leadership program for doctors. This program offers training in management, leadership and the skills that support a clinical leader in his or her expanding job. In addition, we highlight new developments and trends in healthcare and the continuously changing environment in which hospitals have to function. More and more hospitals are choosing AMS for the development of customized courses in line with the Clinical Leadership Program. This is how we got started for AZ Klina.
"While taking into account the fact that their core work is different from the skills required of a hospital manager, we have to provide a framework."
In recent years, AZ Klina has been working with AMS on developing its medical specialists’ leadership skills. The development of clinical leadership is an important part of the hospital’s strategy. “In 2015, we launched a cooperative initiative with AMS, replacing the individual training that we used to offer to interested physicians,” says Tom David. Acquiring the necessary competencies is a key objective of the current course. “To guide Chief Medical Officers in their duties, we have tried to set out a structure on which they can build the required skill set. While taking into account the fact that their core work is different from the skills required of a hospital manager, we have to provide a framework for this.” So AMS and AZ Klina developed the SKILLS@WORK initiative to help doctors develop and understand the skills needed to perform their supervisory and managerial tasks.
"We want to support our Chief Medical Officers in performing
their complex dual role.”
“What’s more, empowering Chief Medical Officers is a key reason for our course at AMS. We want to support our Chief Medical Officers in performing their complex dual role working within a group of self-employed doctors.” For several days, the Chief Medical Officers were immersed in subjects relating to a hospital’s policy and its daily challenges. “In the first unit, we worked on leadership. The second unit focused on strategy and transformation. This year, we are principally working on changing policy in healthcare, the role of the Chief Medical Officer as team leader and liaison in making business plans, and policy objectives.”
A practical approach
We at AMS like to think we are the right partner to support these professionals, but how do we do it? “AMS repeatedly manages to match top experts to the challenges we face. They turn knowledge into usable tools and employ practical examples. Thanks to their understanding of the sector, you can start using your new insight immediately.” For AZ Klina, it is especially important that the program isn’t purely theoretical. “We need practical subjects that can bring about a change in practice.”
"Thanks to their understanding of the sector,
you can start using your new insight immediately.”
According to Tom David, commitment to the program needs to come from two directions. “On the one hand, a hospital board needs to engage by, for instance, helping to shape the content of the programs. On the other hand, when doctors are as immersed as they are in the program, they also take up ownership. Nevertheless, if you give people a new drive, you have to be able to channel it. Chief Medical Officers’ developed proposals need to be integrated into our policy. The combined opinions of all those involved in the program determine how it is implemented, and its possible long-term effect.”
Through this cooperation, shared objectives and perspectives allay the distrust that can afflict healthcare organizations. “By speaking the same language, the gap is bridged between a cooperation model and shared leadership,” says Tom David. “It really has to become a joint project, so transparency increases and objectives are met together.”
“In a shifting healthcare environment and with the continuous quest for better quality, it is important to involve your healthcare professionals in changes."
That sounds encouraging, but according to Tom David, the state of the healthcare sector demands this kind of approach. “In a shifting healthcare environment and with the continuous quest for better quality, it is important to involve your healthcare professionals in changes,” he says.
“After all, change brings big challenges, and you, as an organization, may want to encourage as much involvement as possible. This way, hospital financing as we know it will change considerably. What’s more, you won’t work from accreditation to accreditation, but you will have to offer continuous quality. Thirdly, networks will become increasingly important, in order to meet patients’ wishes. As a manager, you will want to get your professionals involved in this as soon as possible.”