“You’re a Change Agent”: Mayo Clinic Leader Challenges Hospital CEOs

Mayo Clinic CEO Noseworthy Challenges Hospital CEOs

“If you’re the CEO of a health system, you are a change agent. If you’re not good at that, hopefully your replacement will be.”

Dr. John Noseworthy, President and CEO of Mayo Clinic, dropped this bit of wisdom during a recent fireside chat with American Medical Association CEO Dr. James Madara at MATTER in Chicago. The event was a great example of the role that MATTER and the emergent Health Care Council of Chicago (HC3) are taking on in earnest: tying together all the strands of healthcare, from the innovators on the rise to the legacy organizations that are constantly redefining themselves.

But back to that line about being a change agent. Sure, you think. Easy for the CEO of Mayo to say as he runs an organization known globally as an innovator and disruptor. His employees and physicians expect change as a matter of course. My situation is different, and my physicians have been accustomed to a certain way (theirs) of doing things for years. Being Noseworthy’s change agent is a lot more difficult.

Well, yes and yes. And yes. But the maxim still applies. And he also gave a path forward – a long, arduous path forward, but still. “It’s hard to see beyond past success,” he said “You have to present a future state that is appealing enough to outweigh past success.” Part of your job is presenting that future state.

The key phrase here is “appealing enough.” For physicians focused on the glory days of fee-for-service, the future is going to be diminished by comparison. But industry trends are not going backward, and value-based care is where everything is headed.

So, how do we make that future state appealing enough?

Tell them what you’re going to do to relieve some of their administrative burden. Tell them how team-based care will free them up to spend more time directly serving patients. Most importantly: engage with them.

In our fake news/alternative facts era, emails from you don’t resonate because physicians think that people like me wrote them. Your physicians need to be engaged, see you rounding, and influence your vision for your shared future.

And if you aren’t good at that, hopefully your replacement will be.


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