Marketing, Promotion, Public Relations

Moving to the Executive Suite
Lewistown Hospital Teams with MEDSEEK to Enhance Web Site

Moving to the Executive Suite

By Renee DiIulio

Not everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder—there are both advantages and disadvantages to moving up an organization’s hierarchy. But for those who have the capability and desire, it is possible to take a path to the executive suite of a hospital that travels through radiology.

In a presentation at the 2006 American Healthcare Radiology Administrators (AHRA) Annual Meeting held July 30—August 3, Cindy S. Wedel, MPA, FAHRA, discussed why imaging directors are ideally suited for the executive suite as well as how they can achieve that promotion. The session, called “Moving to the Executive Side,” focused on the details imaging directors should know before changing roles.

Cindy S. Wedel, MPA, FAHRA

Why You’re Perfect

“Imaging directors are naturals for executive positions,” Wedel said, adding that their climb can go faster than those from other disciplines. The skills common to both an imaging director’s position and an executive’s make up roughly two thirds of what the imaging director does during the day. These include interpersonal skills, management, finance, information systems, regulation, and a multifocus.

Imaging directors deal with physicians from throughout the hospital, not just in radiology. They navigate turf wars, negotiations, and different personalities constantly. They also deal with a diverse group within the department, including technologists, transporters, clerical staff, nurses, dosimetrists, and physicists.

Imaging directors work on both sides of the revenue cycle, managing multicost centers. “Very few chief nurses get to buy such expensive equipment,” Wedel said. Imaging directors—who are not scared by $1 million price tags—understand how to justify capital expenditures, compare RFPs and negotiate with vendors, write business plans and look-back analyses, and use revenue streams and coding.

With most radiology departments implementing a RIS, PACS, and/or voice recognition system, most imaging directors are already familiar with information systems technology. “[Imaging directors] have been connected to the IT infrastructure longer than most of your colleagues and possess a wealth of knowledge they do not,” she noted.

Responsible for the second-most regulated department in the hospital (the laboratory is first), imaging directors also deal with many regulatory agencies—the FDA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the American College of Radiology, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, and state radiation inspectors.

Workflow is similarly diverse; radiology sees both acute and nonacute patients. Imaging directors also may work with imaging centers, radiologist practices, and joint ventures, providing them with a good sense of competition and marketing.

What to Consider

Even with such a strong résumé, not every imaging director is destined for the top. Wedel stressed that it is important to manage expectations and prepare for the differences. “You have to give up your radiology identity,” she said. Showing favoritism toward the radiology department from the executive suite can be a career killer, she warned.

Executives need to let go of the details and learn to delegate. They need to build a good team and trust its members to do their jobs. Executives need to focus on solutions and be prepared to handle complaints. “You must recognize your ability to deal with negativity and conflict,” Wedel suggested.

Executives also must be prepared to give up more of their personal time. Hours will be different to accommodate all the departments, and there may be weekend work, as well as event obligations. Wedel suggested that family support be garnered before beginning the climb. Not only might your spouse be invited to attend those events, but at some point, relocating also might have to be considered. “The average CEO tenure is 3.6 years,” Wedel noted, a length impacted by politics and people as much as (if not more so than) performance.

What You Should Do

Radiology professionals undaunted by the responsibilities and risks can take specific steps to begin their climb. One thing to consider is whether to stay on the current institution’s ladder or climb a new one. This decision should be influenced by the ability to move within the organization. If a hospital is small, or union rules restrict growth, or a supervisor is unsupportive, it may be more difficult to move up than to move on.

However, for those who do want to stay where they are, Wedel suggested the following steps:

  • earn a graduate degree, such as an MBA, MHA, or MPA—”about 80% to 90% of professionals in the executive suite have a master’s degree,” Wedel said;
  • find a mentor, preferably your boss;
  • network with influential people;
  • offer to manage a different department;
  • socialize with directors;
  • read journals outside of radiology; and
  • volunteer for hospital-wide projects.

For those who decide their climb is best taken on another ladder, Wedel offered a similar list. The degree, mentor, and networking are still top priorities, though the mentor need not be a boss, and networking efforts should be pursued outside the organization. Nonradiology journals are still good to read, but Wedel also recommends attending a conference outside of the radiology field as well as becoming active in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), Chicago, and sitting for the CHE exam. “If you want to leave your organization, work on acquiring the knowledge and skills that make you marketable,” Wedel said.

Once you land that executive job, Wedel—noting the average CEO’s short tenure—recommended negotiating a severance package along with the acceptance and getting it all in writing. Irving Berlin said, “The toughest thing about success is that you’ve got to keep on being a success.” Contracts can help to prevent a fall once the climb to the top is complete.

Renee Diiulio is a contributing writer for  Axis Imaging News. For more information, contact .

Lewistown Hospital Teams with MEDSEEK to Enhance Web Site

By Cat Vasko

In March, Lewistown Hospital, Pa, a 139-bed acute care community hospital, announced that it had selected electronic health solutions provider MEDSEEK Inc, Solvang, Calif, to enhance its Web presence. The hospital, which serves a population of around 80,000 in Mifflin and Juniata counties, will use MEDSEEK’s SiteMakerE content management system to expand its site’s functionality and make it more usable for staff and visitors alike.

“I wanted to update the look and feel of the site, as well as take more of a drive-to-action approach and promote our specialty services line,” said Phyllis Mitchell, director of marketing at Lewistown Hospital.

Ron Cowan, CIO at Lewistown Hospital, noted that the hospital’s original Web site was not keeping pace with the way hospital staff wanted to use it. “It was functional,” he said, “but if Phyllis wanted to put something on the Web, she had to work directly with a member of my staff to make it happen. It was very limited in its design.”

Dale Edwards, vice president of sales at MEDSEEK, explained that today’s health care consumer is too discerning for a mediocre site to be acceptable. “A hospital Web site used to be purely a marketing tool, a way to extend the brand,” he said. “But there was limited interactivity. Today, about 116 million US consumers use the Web to find health care information, and of those, about 80% will find that information by going through a search engine like Google or Yahoo!. The next thing to ask: Is your site intuitive? When I’m on a page about heart disease, I want everything to be related: What physicians are available? What events do you have? Are there support groups? Can I sign up for newsletters specific to my needs?”

Mitchell and Cowan had their hands full bringing an entire hospital on board with the site-wide overhaul. “We’ve met with all the different departments within the hospital, reviewed the information that they currently have on their sections of the Web site, and updated their content,” Mitchell said. “Some departments are very excited—this is a valuable marketing tool. Other people are at a different level of engagement. They don’t have a very good handle on how they can use this effectively.” Another obstacle was cost, which, to Lewistown’s administration and board, initially appeared to be prohibitively high.

Edwards explained that high costs on Web site redesign are defrayed by high ROIs. “One of our clients is Henry Ford Health System [Detroit],” he said. “They receive about 76,000 appointment requests online every year.” Edwards expounded enthusiastically on the Web’s bright future as a patient recruiting tool. “You have about 80,000 Baby Boomers turning 60 every day,” he said. “These folks are very technically savvy individuals. They want quality, convenience, and choice. The patients that hospitals are trying to get are the ones who use the Web.”

Implementation at Lewistown will take about 6 months and will include weekly progress updates with MEDSEEK.

Cat Vasko is associate editor of  Axis Imaging News. For more information, contact .