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“Brothers and Sisters:  Before we open our hymnals and sing the many grim verses of ‘Now Comes the Hard Part’, the Post-Election Day quadrennial dirge, the congregation is kindly requested to engage in a brief interlude of soul replenishing joy.” 

So began David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker in a recent Talk of the Town comment on the election outcome.

With apologies to Mr. Remnick for hijacking his lead sentence, I think healthcare workers should stop and take a breath.  It is not all bad news for our industry.

While Mr. Romney, who touted his executive and superior leadership skills to fix Washington gridlock, lost, the good news for physicians and hospitals may be that Mr. Romney could well have been more aggressive with regard to the size of Medicare benefit reductions and the speed with which they would have been implemented, than President Obama will be.  The truth is that healthcare is going to face tumultuous times regardless of who won the battle for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  At least that bit of uncertainty has been settled. 

As we steam ahead to Christmas and the inevitable end of the year predictions for what will really happen to hospitals, physicians and other providers in 2013, let me assert one theme that I have adopted, and recommend to my colleagues: be optimistic.  Optimism is the fuel that inspires mankind’s soul and allows us to move ahead through troubled times.  Besides, pessimists are rarely leading the pack for innovative thinking.  They are too busy being afraid of consequences—what happens when “this is the way it has always been” no longer works as a rationale for the status quo.   

Innovation will be the most important competency a healthcare leader will need to survive the impending transformation.  That, and optimism.

There will be many irritants, frustrations, and moments of angst and downright fear, but healthcare professionals cannot lose sight of the fact that they must continue to fulfill their mission of people caring for people.  Seriously, the possibility of not having effective healthcare is not on anyone’s radar.  The kind of delivery model we will have going forward is where the debate, and innovation, will occur.

I find this prospect both exciting, challenging and a time of great opportunity for optimists—executives, managers, and employees—who can innovate. 

 © 2012 John Gregory Self