Over the days and weeks ahead I’m sure that many people will be analyzing the qualifications of the recently announced eHealth Ontario CEO nominee, Greg A. Reed. Some possible topics of discussion based on background information on Mr. Reed released to date will likely include:
- Mr. Reed’s apparent lack of healthcare and healthcare IT experience. I’m not sure that this lack of experience is necessarily a bad thing. I have witnessed a number of healthcare organizations purposely hire from outside the health sector in order to get new ideas and fresh perspectives. With support from a board chair with considerable healthcare experience, Mr. Reed can build a team with the right experience and expertise to complement his strengths and weaknesses. One senior position that I suggest Mr. Reed consider is a Chief Medical Information Officer (or equivalent position) that puts an medical doctor in a key executive position. Doing so will demonstrate eHealth Ontario’s commitment to truly understanding the needs of the end user community and provide Mr. Reed with critical insight into the clinical challenges of integrating IT with healthcare processes.
- Mr. Reed’s apparent lack of government / public sector experience. One of Mr. Reed’s predecessors suffered from a strained relationship with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Understanding how the bureaucracy thinks and works is a challenge for many executives from the private sector (just ask the current Ottawa mayor, Larry O’Brien). As with the apparent lack of healthcare experience, I think that the new board chair can play an important role in helping the new CEO navigate the tricky public sector waters. Mr. Hession possesses a rare blend of public and private sector experience and can serve as a liaison to the ministry.
- Mr. Reed’s consulting background. Mr. Reed spent something on the order of 20 years with McKinsey, a noted strategic and management consulting firm. Given the many debates this past summer about the extensive use of consultants, I suspect that many people will be suspicious that Mr. Reed is yet another consultant spending taxpayers’ dollars. Despite this rather negative image of consultants, I think that Mr. Reed’s consulting experience will serve him well as he crafts a strategy beyond 2012 and creates a high performance organization capable of executing whatever plan is developed. Through his work at McKinsey I suspect that Mr. Reed was exposed to a wide variety of situations from which he can draw relevant ideas.
Given the media coverage this past summer and the many criticisms of eHealth Ontario’s mandate and performance, I imagine that Mr. Reed’s “honeymoon” period will be rather short. I wish him every success and I encourage him (perhaps more correctly, implore him) to be as open and transparent as possible in his dealings with all stakeholders including the general public.