Healthcare leaders face challenges that are both unique and complex. While they impact lives as caregivers, they also affect business performance as organisational heads. Balancing these two aspects takes up a lot of their resources and time.

The insights shared Dr. Tomislav Mihaljevic, CEO, Cleveland Clinic, regarding his daily regimen and his responsibilities offer some valuable tips to healthcare leaders. Dr. Mihaljevic, MD, joined the Cleveland Clinic, in 2004 as a cardiothoracic surgeon and went on to serve as CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, Abu Dhabi, before becoming CEO of Cleveland Clinic in January this year. Ohio based Cleveland Clinic, which has ranked high in patient and employee engagements scores, was established in 1921 and runs a 170-acre campus in Cleveland, USA besides regional hospitals and family health centres across Ohio, Florida and Nevada in the US. Outside U.S, the medical group has centres in Toronto, Canada and Abu Dhabi in UAE.

Time management 

To begin with, having a set routine and prioritising tasks helps in efficient utilisation of time. For Dr. Mihaljevic, the day starts as early as 4.30 am. By 6, he is done with his workout, family phone calls and the newspapers. Once at work, he makes sure to take up the most immediate tasks and follow a schedule based on the order of importance. He also tries to clear all mails by the end of the day and wind up by 6 or 7 p.m. The beginning of the day and the week is usually devoted to operational work and meetings.

Clutter-free space 

Dr. Mihaljevic also stresses on the need for a minimalist, clean work space. His own office has zero stacks of paper and has a standing desk.

A Becker’s Hospital Review report on the habits of successful hospital executives talks about how a messy workplace can have an adverse effect on mental focus.

 Real-time interactions 

Dr. Mihaljevic highlights the need for real-time interactions with clinical staff across locations and the importance of unscheduled meetings for immediate solutions. His group has implemented what he calls the ‘Tiered Daily Huddle’ every day at a set time. In these meetings, real-time information is exchanged about patient safety across all the hospitals of the group. This enables a daily assessment of care delivery across the chain. This also helps to engage the workforce to deliver organizational goals.

A Harvard Business Review Study of successful CEOs lists ‘Engaging for Impact’ as one of the key attributes of high-performing healthcare leaders. These leaders engage with all stakeholders to understand needs and accordingly drive performance.

Aligning with vision 

It is important to translate organisational vision into relatable language that can influence the behavior of clinic staff. Dr. Mihaljevic says, a vision/ mission statement that lays out how staff can think and act, works better. So, his colleagues and he have adopted the simple philosophy, “Treat our patients and each other as family and the hospital as home.” This is highlighted at every meeting and made the basis for all decisions.

Unwinding to be effective

Dr. Mihaljevic is also very clear about not taking work home. Instead he makes sure to unwind with a good night’s sleep or a good book. As he says, “As a leader you meet hundreds of people every day and every interaction is being perceived differently. For the person I’m speaking with, it may be the most important conversation in the whole year. So, to be focused and devote the right amount of attention and time to these conversations, you have to be at the top of your game. You cannot do that unless you take good care of yourself.”

These were some of the insights gleaned from Dr. Mihaljevic’s account of his daily life.

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