The question of leadership has been top of mind globally in light of the recent US elections, Brexit, release of the State Capture report, and countless incidents of political upheaval. This past month, Discovery hosted its annual Leadership Summit that brought together some of the world’s most brilliant thinkers to inspire minds with their leadership strategies and experiences.
Healthcare is changing throughout most parts of the world in response to the need to improve the quality, access and affordability to healthcare. South Africa isn’t alone in recognising that effective leadership in healthcare is both critical and scarce. But under the growing pressure on the health system to overcome long standing challenges and a lack of resources, the opportunity exists to redefine the kind of leadership that will transform an unsustainable system into a quality service.
The Summit collected thought leaders in business, government, science and economics to share their insights on what it takes to be an effective leader in an imminent “New World Order”. We heard from prominent leaders such as former Chairman and CEO of GE, Jack Welch, who talked about the importance of organisational culture, advising leaders to “marry the heart of a small organisation with the muscle of a large enterprise.”
Celebrated sportsman, entrepreneur and founder of UNICEF 7 Fund for Children, David Beckham, dispelled the myth that you have to be a natural leader to be an effective leader. And along with many others, these leaders shared insights that when applied to healthcare, and eHealth specifically, can influence a powerful shift in how we deliver healthcare services and carry out the partnerships between patients, providers and other stakeholders.
Here are the thoughts of Discovery Founder and CEO Adrian Gore; Founder of the Huffington Post and ThriveGlobal, Arianna Huffington; and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan which we believe are of real benefit to our industry.
“Focus on the positive.”
Adrian GORE, Founder and CEO of Discovery
Recently named the All African Business Leader of the Year, Adrian Gore’s message was simple: we are too negative. He traced our pessimism back to a primal instinct to seek out negative signals for the sake of survival. He described the phenomenon of fixation on the negative as an evolutionary mismatch because we’ve outgrown the primitive threat of scarcity and our new challenges are the threat of abundance and the failure of systems.
In the context of healthcare, a system that is largely focused on solving the scarcity of resources, his message speaks to a new era in healthcare – one whereby the sophistication of the system is not separate from people.
eHealth leaders have a role to play in continuing to dispel the myth that technology is detrimental to the people who deliver health services and align those same people to the common purpose of a quality system in which they are fundamental.
The health and eHealth leaders that are working towards transformation have equal emphasis on the people, processes and technology. And leading in a manner that focuses on the positives, the progress, and the people is the method for success in improving the quality, access and affordability of healthcare.
“Leaders are paid for their judgement, not their stamina.”
Arianna HUFFINGTON, Founder of The Huffington Post and Thrive Global
Arianna Huffington’s message was in line with the purpose of her new venture, Thrive Global: to address the collective delusion that in order to succeed, we must burnout. She described an age where we take better care of our smartphones than we do ourselves. An observation supported by the fact that total cost of treating preventable, stress-related lifestyle diseases account for the majority of the healthcare spend.
But the cost to leaders of not prioritising time to rest and recharge is a loss of creativity and empathy – skills that are invaluable as technology and algorithms takes over more and more routine work. Humans are not machines and sleep, rest and downtime aren’t frivolities afforded only to those with less responsibilities but a key to effective leadership.
A marker in the evolution of healthcare is a call for reduced working hours for doctors and emphasises the notion that quality of life for individuals underpins a quality service. With this in mind, eHealth leaders again have a mandate to design solutions that reduce the burden of routine tasks to make more room for healthcare workers to spend more time with their patients and focusing on their own health and wellbeing.
“Get things done at the risk of making a few mistakes.”
Pravin GORDHAN, Finance Minister of South Africa
Recognised as Business Leader of the Year at the 2016 Sunday Times Top 100 Companies Awards, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan challenged leaders to inspire confidence in the economy; to invest in it; and to take deliberate action to build an inclusive economy. Business as usual hasn’t delivered on the need to create jobs and opportunities for SMMEs, access to training, or establish trust between stakeholders.
While his message referred to the economy in its entirety, there’s a common thread for healthcare as the industry shakes the conditioning of the past to find new ways to carry out the service. It’s well understood that the cost of healthcare is rising at an alarming rate and doing things the ways they’ve ‘always’ been done is part of problem. It also echoes some of the work that eHealth leaders are undertaking to reduce the cost of care delivery and provide evidence of that reduction but that requires the disruption of the industry and the status quo.
Some of the resistance to National Health Insurance (NHI), as separate from universal coverage, is rooted in a lack of trust and a lack of understanding as to the workings and cost of the system. But the Minister cautioned against devoting too much time and effort to perfecting the plan before it is put into action. Mistakes are bound to happen, issues will come to light that weren’t apparent before and the question of whether the country can afford to roll out NHI or whether we can afford not to will continue to be debated but effective leadership will face the challenge head on and contribute to the solution.