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ORX Attendees Learn Why Patients Come Second

Creating an exceptional team of leaders will transform patient care.

Published: October 12, 2017

LEADING OFF Paul Spiegelman kicked off OR Excellence with an important message about leadership improvement.

Paul Spiegelman, an employee engagement expert and co-author of the New York Times best-selling book "Patients Come Second: Leading Change by Changing the Way You Lead, kicked off the 9th annual OR Excellence with an important message for surgical administrators: You can't take care of your patients unless you first take care of your staff.

Mr. Spiegelman wants to flip the script on the common belief that financial concerns should drive staffing and business decisions. "You need to let the people drive your business, and the financials will follow," he says. "If you don't show employees that you care for them and treat them with dignity, they won't do their best when caring for patients."

Healthcare leaders spend days looking at spreadsheets and goals, but not enough time building strong teams, according to Mr. Spiegelman, who says, "Health care has one of the worst internal cultures of any industry."

He should know. Mr. Spiegelman built an outsourcing call center for hospitals across the country and eventually sold the business to Stericycle, a company that specializes in collecting and disposing of regulated medical waste. Stericycle had nothing to do with call centers, but the company's CEO was intrigued by the culture Mr. Spiegelman had built throughout his start-up — a brand based on enhancing the lives of the people who worked for him — and wanted the same employee-first attitude to permeate his large corporation.

Mr. Spiegelman says all employees, from the front line to the CEO, want to feel purpose beyond their jobs and want opportunities to learn and grow. "Addressing those issues over and over again is what management is all about," he adds.

"Culture is a process, not a vibe," continues Mr. Spiegelman. "To succeed at developing a culture, you have to institutionalize it with processes."

Daniel Cook


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