Healthcare Leadership Lessons from the Presidents

Posted on February 17, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today is President’s Day here in the US and so I thought I’d do a little something to honor the past President’s of the United States. I’m not sure why, but I always immediately go to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on President’s Day. I think they were both extremely powerful leaders and healthcare could learn a lot from them.

Think about what both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln faced during their presidencies. They had to fight against tremendous opposition in order to do something great. I wonder how many in healthcare have the bravery and courage of Washington and Lincoln. How many are willing to go against really powerful opposing forces and implement something that’s the right thing to do? Unfortunately far too few are weak in the leadership and vision departments.

The most simple example I can think of is interoperability of healthcare records. I wrote previously about how it’s time to make healthcare records interoperable. We all know it’s the right thing to do, but it will take unique leaders willing to do something brave and courageous to make it happen. The forces against it are strong.

Chew on this quote from George Washington, “Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.” Could interoperability be considered a moral duty? I think so.

Now one from Abraham Lincoln, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” I’ve seen far too many healthcare leaders just counting their days as opposed to living their lives. Both Washington and Lincoln are memorable because they had life in their years. Far too many CIOs and healthcare leaders are going to be forgotten because they didn’t have life in their years.

I know when I first started working in healthcare I was touched by the impact that I could have for good. I was entranced by the idea that something I did (even if I’m a tech guy) could somehow help improve or save someone’s life. The amazing thing is that this isn’t just a casual hope. It’s the reality of the work we do. Working in healthcare means we can improve and even save lives. This President’s Day I hope we all work to be better leaders so we can live up to that ambitious potential.