Pay attention, or success strategies for a challenging economy

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At this morning's general session, Dave Jakielo, former president of HBMA, took the mic to discuss success strategies in a challenging health care economy. It was a little more doom and gloom for a group of folks who've already heard a lot of it here in Phoenix. Which makes Jakielo's advice both prescient and hard to swallow: stay positive and pay attention.

Jakielo began by asking how many people in the audience had done wage freezes. A few hands went up. He asked how many radiologists had taken a pay cut for the first time, and a few more hands went up. "If your hand isn't up, folks, odds are it will be by this time next year," he said. "That means we have to change and adapt. If you're not paying close attention to what's going on in health care today, you may find yourself . . ." He drew laughs from the crowd as he displayed a picture of a shack with a sign reading, "Sh** Creek Paddle Store."

The issues outlined by Jakielo are, by now, familiar to us all: a shifting payor landscape, the possibility of universal health care looming, the nascence of ICD-10, the return of capitation, practice consolidations and breakups, hospital closings, and much more.

[Sidebar: another challenge mentioned by Jakielo was the notorious millennial, the lazy and spoiled 20-something with no work ethic who needs constant positive reinforcement to do the most basic tasks, but, on the brighter side, is good with computers. As a millennial myself, I bristled a bit. But I suppose I see his point. Some millennials -- some -- can indeed be like that.]

So how can a good leader prepare him- or herself to lead the team into the fray? There were two works Jakielo used again and again: PAY ATTENTION. Pay attention to the changes happening to health care. Oh, and two more: STAY POSITIVE. Adapt to change instead of living in the past.

Jakielo pointed out that "to earn more you must learn more," and urged the crowd to become continuous learners, attending training programs and researching the health care environment to stay ahead of the curve. He reminded attendees that their cars can serve as "rolling universities," with books on tape and other audio programs providing ongoing education.

Jakielo also reminded leaders to praise or compliment a minimum of three staff members a day, maintaining the positive environment. (There were a few more groans at the expense of millennials when he mentioned that we need much more praise than older workers and should be evaluated EVERY THIRTY DAYS because we need constant feedback to succeed. Are there any other millennials in this room? Am I the only one feeling unfairly singled out here?)

To further improve your effectiveness as a leader, Jakielo recommends:

* Blocking out an hour on your calendar for "thinking time"
* Avoiding the notorious plague of the smartphone, otherwise known as "Crackberry disease"
* Keep a to-do list
* Keep a stop-doing list. "Because, as a leader, you can give someone else about 80% of what's on your list," Jakielo explained. "Do the important stuff yourself. The rest is filler."