Empowering Healthcare Leadership and Innovation at Penn State Hershey

Penn State Executive Programs partnered with Penn State Hershey to custom design a leadership program that prepares its physician leaders to create and implement the future direction of the organization in order to achieve synergy, excellence, and cost savings.

Penn State Hershey, with nearly $2 billion in annual revenue and over 10,000 employees, is comprised of the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Children's Hospital, Cancer Institute, and numerous research centers. Driven by a commitment to enhancing patient quality of life through improved health, educating those who will serve the health needs of others, and discovering new knowledge through groundbreaking medical research, Penn State Hershey is among the vanguard of healthcare leadership and innovation in the nation today.

This exceptional organization is not without its challenges, however, due to a rapidly changing healthcare environment. Reforms in healthcare policy through the Affordable Care Act, decreasing research funding, and increasingly aggressive competitors have lead Penn State Hershey to re-evaluate its overall strategy. The resulting new initiatives aim to expand the organization’s network of care, identify new sources of research funding, revamp the medical school curricula, and increase patient outcomes and satisfaction while reducing costs through a lean healthcare initiative.

Energizing Leaders, Aligning Goals

To integrate and focus these missions to achieve synergy, excellence, and cost savings, Penn State Hershey needed to energize its leaders to align their respective units with the enterprise strategy and then translate that strategy into action. Recognizing the need for an educational solution to achieve this goal, Penn State Hershey partnered with Penn State Executive Programs to custom design a leadership program that prepares its physician leaders to create and implement the future direction of the organization.

Born from this partnership is the Penn State Hershey Leadership Academy for Excellence in Academic Medicine — an interdisciplinary education effort designed to enable physicians, researchers, and administrators to excel in leadership roles. Leveraging Penn State Executive Programs’ business strategy acumen, participants learn to think systemically to improve the performance of the healthcare system through the development of skills in leadership, competitive assessment, strategy formulation, strategic and financial decision-making, conflict management, and collaboration. The Leadership Academy is now in its fifth year.

Transforming Strategy into Action

The Leadership Academy combines a variety of curricula to ensure a successful learning experience: face-to-face learning modules; Executive Programs’ proprietary Strategy, Leadership, Culture Questionnaire (SLCQ) organization assessment; 360-degree and individual self-assessments; case analyses; simulations; and peer coaching. Additionally,  applied learning  projects provide a practical forum for leaders to immediately apply new knowledge and key concepts while solving real issues facing their organization. Guided by Penn State faculty, Leadership Academy participants address strategic challenges that have included revising the medical education curricula, increasing patient participation in clinical research, creating a process to accelerate innovation in clinical practice, and improving the patient experience at the Hershey Medical Center.

As a result of partnering with Executive Programs, Penn State Hershey has realized clinical advancements and innovations, research breakthroughs, and the creation of interdisciplinary units. Participants in the Leadership Academy have made both individual accomplishments and organization strategic gains.

On an individual level, several participants have been promoted to new appointments, including Vice Chairman of Research and Department Chair. Another was part of a team named Innovator of the Year for accomplishments that included a large licensing agreement for a medical device, creation of the Biomedical Innovators Group, and launching Innovation Summits on trending topics such as 3-D printing.

Many innovations from the Leadership Academy have been implemented at an organizational level, including a strategic planning framework; flexible, competency-based curricula; inclusion of business and lean education in the family medicine residency program; and creation of a Center for Enterprise Innovation award.