In this episode, Renee DeSilva is joined by Randy Haffner, Ph.D. the President & CEO of AdventHealth Florida. Together, they explore what it means to be a values-driven leader in a healthcare setting, as well as how values and mission as a faith based organization connect to consumer experience goals and service standards.
Highlights from the conversation:
• AdventHealth’s consumer experience journey since 2019 (4:00)
• The distinction between consumers and patients (7:34)
• AdventHealth’s service standards of love, safety, and simplicity (11:11)
• How Advent’s care advocate program is improving care navigation (14:26)
• Why Randy believes leadership has to be a team sport (22:46)
• The concept that any organization is one generation away from losing its link to values (24:08)
• Why Randy would invite Nelson Mandela to his Table (33:15)
IRandy has been with AdventHealth since 1989 and has held senior leadership positions throughout the organization. As president/CEO of the multi-state division, Randy oversaw AdventHealth’s operations outside of Florida, comprising of 20 campuses across eight states. He also previously served as CEO of Porter Adventist Hospital in Colorado, and as administrator of AdventHealth Orlando.
Renee DeSilva 0:00 Welcome back to the Table. I’m Renee DeSilva, CEO of The Health Management Academy and your host. This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Randy Haffner, President and CEO of AdventHealth Florida. Randy has led a remarkable career of service at Advent having been with the health system for more than 30 years, which is an incredible run. Continuing our early season conversations around the next generation of leaders, we covered what true value driven leadership looks like, and the importance of maintaining a connection to an organization’s mission. And that includes how AdventHealth has extended that towards its team members, its patients and consumers. Here are my takeaways. First, I could have spent an entire day with Randy talking about leadership, he’s pursued a PhD in leadership. Randy’s key driver is that an organization is only one generation away from losing a direct link to its values, a sentiment that resonates with me, leadership is a team sport, and each leader needs to live out the mission and values each day. Next, listen to how Randy explains the connection between values and addition to their mission as a faith based organization and Advent’s consumer experience goals. Their service standards are concise, yet powerful: keep me safe, love me, make it easy, and own commitments and mistakes. And lastly, and reflecting on all that Randy shared my mind went to the expression says easy does hard. We know conceptualizing change is necessary. But doing the work is the real challenge, particularly in health care. After hearing, Randy, I think you’ll agree Advent is truly moving from words to action on this journey. So with that, let’s head to the Table.
Randy, welcome to the Table. Very happy to have you.
Randy Haffner 1:59 Great to be here.
Renee DeSilva 2:00 So before we dive in, and there’s so much I want to cover with you, let’s just start a bit by you helping us understand, but the early forces that shaped your career and healthcare.
Randy Haffner 2:12 You know, I can’t say that I grew up as a little eight year old thinking, boy, when I grow up, I want to be a hospital administrator. That really wasn’t what I was thinking. I didn’t know that I wanted to be in some sort of business. My father was a Seventh Day evidence minister and my two brothers both chose to go into the ministry, I had a mother who was a nurse and a sister who was a nurse. And so I decided to be a minister of finance, if you will. That’s kind of how I found my way into health care, in that coming out of college, was recruited by AdventHealth to come be part of a residency program, and it just fit perfectly relative to my interest in business. My interest in terms of being in something that had a faith basis to it. Same time being around healthcare through both my mother and my sister, both being nurses, it just felt like a real nice fit that I can use my my business skills, but do it towards a greater calling in terms of faith based healthcare.
Renee DeSilva 3:16 I love that. Well, we’re recording this during nurses weeks a reminder, if you haven’t thanked a nurse today. Absolutely. So that’s great. So we’ll get into a little bit more about I know as a leader, mission and values really animate you and you’ve got some great information to share on that. But before we go there, I have been struck by the consumer experience journey that AdventHealth has been on and I know that from talking to many of your colleagues across the system, you suggested to me that it’s it’s it’s like a pilgrim on a journey versus versus someone actually planting a victory flag. So maybe help our listeners understand where does Advent find itself today as it relates to its consumer journey?
Randy Haffner 4:00 Yeah, I absolutely believe that the consumer journey is one of those that the finish line keeps getting moved from you as the consumer continues to be educated and was we continue to meet the needs those needs will continually be known to us. But really, our journey started back in 2019. As we were coming into 2020, we started the visioning sessions. What do we want to become and what do we want to be arrived at by the year 2030. And so part of that journey was visioning and crafting and we were going through the rebranding of going from avendus health system to Amazon health. And so we crafted a statement that said that AdventHealth will be known as a preeminent faith based, consumer focused clinical care, delivering whole person care. And so that idea that that little phrase in there, consumer focused, can be thrown in In. But let’s understand the impact of how different healthcare is today in terms of truly being consumer focused. Having done this now for over 30 years, I know many of our systems and processes are set up to be episodic, where we take great care of you when they’re in the hospital. Well, what about when you’re discharged? What about when you’re trying to get into the Doctor, what happens and all of those scenarios as well, and we’re just not as consumer focused, as we need to be part of our 2030 visioning and our rebranding as well as we went through and created what we wanted our service standards to be across all of adventhealth. And ultimately came down that our service standards, because we want to make it easy for our consumers, we want our consumers to always know that they’re safe in our care, and that our consumers feel loved. And if we ever end up messing up or or not living up into our intention that will own those problems. So part of this idea, how do we make things easy, and as a consumer of health care myself, and listening to my wife, as she navigates for the family and our children, it’s not always easy, it’s not always clear in terms of what that next step looks like, and what it should be. And so many years ago, we created a group of consumers, we went and talked to industry experts, and basically created 16, consumer promises, things like that, if you need us will be available to you immediate virtual response, that you’ll only have to register one time versus every time you come into contact us having to tell the same information over and over again, that if you have an appointment, we’re going to start the appointment on time, things like that, that just seems so basic, in today’s marketplace, and yet for healthcare. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty revolutionary idea. So how do we make this easy for consumers to navigate or care and always know what’s going to be next in terms of their care process?
Renee DeSilva 7:13 So I want to I want to unpack that a bit further. And maybe I’ll even just start by going back to how you described the the, the visioning lens, even the word choice. So consumer versus patient, I do think is a distinction worth unpacking? Why did you anchor on consumer focus versus patient focus to start?
Randy Haffner 7:34 It’s a great question, because for many years, and we use the term customer, funny how many times how many visioning sessions I’ve sat through both within our organization as well as trade group, which really is the customer? And who’s paying for it? And where does the physician fit in that. And basically, what we said is, we need to change our mindset, that it needs to be about the consumer of healthcare, because let’s face it, not every consumer of healthcare is one of our patients, not every consumer that is out there is necessarily one of our customers. And so it pretty much pulls back and said our communities are our consumers, they may choose us to consume. And therefore we need to be on this, this this mission, as to how do we make it so easy that people will choose AdventHealth for their care. And that little word choice of making them a consumer of healthcare, makes us know our place relative to being able to track them and retain them in our care.
Renee DeSilva 8:38 I love that. And so as you set that bold vision, one of the things that the question that’s in my mind is, in some ways, if you anchor around a consumer driven approach with you know, 16 promises that are basic, but it’s it’s one of those things where it probably says easy, but does hard. Yes, it permeates every part of the organization. So talk a little bit around. Is there one executive that owns the consumer experience? Or how do you make sure that that gets embedded in all the things that you do, given the the breadth and scope of the work there?
Randy Haffner 9:14 That’s a great insight and a great question, because the reality is that if one individual believes that they’re responsible for this, it’s not going to get done. It just not. And that’s the reason why it’s in our vision statement. Just like the clinical journey that we’re on to be delivering the safest, highest quality care is the role of 1000s within our organization. The same is true for the consumer. But this is not just something that is one item on the agenda of Okay, now let’s talk about our consumer journey. It has to be part of everything from when we’re talking about it. How are we setting up our IT systems, when we’re talking about our billing process? Okay, how’s the billing being done? Designed around the consumer, because let’s face it, so much in healthcare is designed around what is good for the system? What is right for the physician? What is good for the caregiver? And it’s an entirely different question as to what is in the best interests of the consumer hear, how do we make it easy? How do we make it safe? How do we make it that they feel our love through the care that we provide every day? And so this is one of those that is almost more cultural that has to just be embedded into the fabric of how you think, in order that you design your processes accordingly?
Renee DeSilva 10:41 Yes. And so I want to go back to you mentioned some of the standards that you’ve talked about. And I if I’m, if my memory serves me, Well, you said, we’re going to make it easy, we’re going to make it safe, you’re going to feel loved, and we’re going to own our mistakes. Yes, of those four aspirations. Where do you feel like what are you the most proud of in terms of what you’ve been able to advance on those standards? And then you know, what’s the one that you feel like you all are still really striving to make it well grouped?
Randy Haffner 11:11 You know, I think very much embedded as to who we are, as an organization, is at the heart of the love me standard. You know, it’s one of the reasons why I came to this organization 34 years ago, as a reason I’ve never left. And the reason that I plan to retire here is that this is an expression that every human longs for. And when you talk about healthcare, you’re talking about some of the most sacred and some of the most scary times of a person’s life. And what do you want more than anything else, when you’re fearful and you’re frightened? You want somebody that can hold your hand, they can hug you and make you feel loved and safe? Yeah, that is just I love it, that it is one of our service standards, forget the double use of the term love, but there’s just, it is so pure from a standpoint of who we are as an organization, and how we live our mission to extend the healing ministry of Christ. So that’s the one that I would say is, is, is the one that is most near and dear. And I think the most natural as to who we are as an organization, the one that I think is going to be the journey of the lifetime is really the one of make it easy. Yes. I mean, let’s face it, if you’ve had to use our health care system, you know, I think about when my wife and I moved from Colorado back to Florida a number of years ago, and our youngest daughter was just having all of these sneezing and headaches and not being able to sleep at night, we went from doctor to doctor, and none of them knew what the one had said before them. And they just kept adding on medications, and ordering the same tests that we had to be our own navigator. And it was almost like we had to step in on behalf of our daughter and say, you know, are you talking to each other D. e and t just said to the pulmonologist, I said to the neurologist that said to the pediatrician, and they’re all bouncing between each other, with my poor daughter in the middle. Now fortunately, we came away with a diagnosis that she’s allergic to Florida. Wow, that’s a tough one. The diagnosis came back, but it just was not easy. How do we make it easy so that the patient is at the center of the care, and that they’re not bouncing between specialists to specialists from imaging to laboratory and so forth. But rather, we come around the patient, everybody’s talking to each other. And we’re able to make it easy on behalf our patient, I think is going to be quite honestly a journey of a lifetime.
Renee DeSilva 13:57 Yeah, I agree with that. And I’m struck by just for those of us who are in healthcare and ostensibly know how to navigate the system, it can still be challenging when there’s a when there’s a moment in front of you. I know that AdventHealth launched, really, you’re trying to sort of do this advocacy and care navigation at scale, maybe to take your your high level vision and maybe narrow that into an example of how you’re executing on that. Talk to us a bit about the care advocate program.
Randy Haffner 14:26 Yeah, this is a this is one of our efforts to make it easy. And when we started talking to our consumers, and asked them what is it that would be most helpful as you try to work through our processes? Kind of the messaging that came back was we need a friend in health care. I mean, think about that is is when you are trying to navigate through something a lot of us are used to picking up the phone and either calling a friend or a brother or a friend that just say Hey, can you help me know who should I take my car to or who Should I, you know, if you’re moving into town, where should I do my grocery shopping and so forth. And so the thing that we came back with was this idea that we needed to make it easy and have a friend in health care. And let’s be clear, we want to design our processes and design a, the AdventHealth app in such a way that it just as easy and it’s intuitive, and you don’t ultimately need a friend. But interim in between that we basically said, we need to set up a program that allows us to enable this compassionate care, establish relationships that go more than just episodic, that we can afford our consumers and, and people that call us choice and flexibility and ultimately earn their trust. And so we set up a care advocacy program. Currently, we have about 60 individuals within the organization that served within this capacity that are overseen by five RNs that can provide additional clinical insight. But we have about 80,000 patients right now that are rolled through their primary care physician offices. And anything that this consumer needs, they can just simply reach out, this is a relationship that is not just about one visit, but I had lunch with a community leader last week, and he said, I love my advocate, you know, every once in a while I just send them a note because we’re friends. Yeah, not even a scenario where I need anything. But when I do, it is so nice. We set up a standard that roughly about 15 minutes after you text in or use our app that we’re able to get back with them as it can just be as easy, hey, my daughter is coming back from college and she’s going to need to get in to see, let’s say a OB GYN visit any chance you can help me and and the care advocate can make that happen. Or it’s kind of out in the retests results back from from my scan last week, any chance you can help me with that. So things like that, that just make it easy that you have a friend that you can call, and that they get enrolled in the program, and then they’re able to see and have somebody that can help them navigate. And again, our goal is ultimately to make it so we use it and you don’t need to have a friend or a guide, if you will. But until then we have rolled out this program, and it’s been Warmly, warmly received by those that use it.
Renee DeSilva 17:35 I can imagine. I think that’s fabulous. All right, I’m gonna I’m gonna transition us a bit to the topic of leadership. And I know as part of our getting to know each other, I learned that you have a PhD in leadership. And so I could have made this the focus of our entire chat. So I’ll try to control myself because I’m before this role at the Health Management Academy, I was the chief talent officer. And so this work is just feels like calling work to me as well. So maybe let’s start by explaining what was your dissertation research about when you were pursuing that degree?
Randy Haffner 18:08 Yeah, my research interest focused on how organizations hold on to their values. So it was it was really motivated by a career and faith based healthcare, where I looked at a lot of a lot of health care hospitals and organizations. And the very essence of why hospitals got created in the first place was sisters that would go into the city and find people that had needs, congregated them into ALMS houses that ultimately turned into what we call today, the modern hospitals. So the very essence of a hospital started as a Christian endeavor. And there are many that, that hold names of a Christian organization, but over time have severed those ties. And I was curious if we as a Seventh Day Adventist church that are in health care, how do we make sure that we hold on to those sacred values, and went through an effort of looking at what we can learn from institutions of higher learning from colleges, because you go back to the 1600s, Harvard College started as a school of clergy and found their way far from that beginning to where they are today. And so how do you continue to evolve as an organization? How do you stay current with the times, but same time if those values are so important? How do organizations hold on to those sacred values and that that was the topic of my, my dissertation research?
Renee DeSilva 19:43 And when you distill it, you know, whether that’s for AdventHealth and the Seventh Day Adventist context or for maybe a more even a more secular organization that would have values that they feel like is their their TrueNorth what comes to mind in terms of the way that you You stay tethered to those things. And I’m also struck by I talk a lot about this with my own team that your your culture and your values are most revealed in times of being under pressure, you know who you are, when things are great, and sometimes be different than who you are when things get challenging. So, just against that backdrop, what have you observed about how do you hold that center?
Randy Haffner 20:23 Yeah, well, what the research shows is that it really comes down to leadership. And within that leadership, more specifically, that they have to take a holistic approach to those values. And what I mean by holistic, is that it’s not just enough that you give it lip service, but something that you in your mind fully comprehend, that it makes sense to you, you’re just convicted that these values, we should hold sacred. And so you have to understand it first and foremost. The second is, is that you have to actually be practicing it. And within my own dissertation research, once I determined what our core values were, I went out and and researched it in terms of how senior leaders, middle managers, and frontline employees all understood these values. And then more importantly, how are you behaving? I mean, does it factor into the way that you do your job every day, because if you’re just simply knowing about it, but then it really doesn’t impact the way that you behave and the way that you conduct yourself on a daily basis, then it’s kind of empty. And then the last thing that really, really is important is that there’s an emotional connection, that you deeply believe in these values. And you believe that by practicing them that you are living into your purpose. So it’s really idea that you have to have leaders that understand, behave, and have an emotional connection. And that’s that holistic Mind Body Spirit type of adhesion to this idea about us. That’s powerful.
Renee DeSilva 22:07 I also think through I agree with you that leaders model and they set the tone. I’m also just struck by we as you know, the Health Management Academy does a lot of work with leading health systems. And so the challenge of taking that concept, which, you know, sort of, again, sounds simple, but cascading through that through 10s of 1000s. Sometimes 100,000 employees is also very challenging. So what advice do you have at ensuring that it is both a sort of top down and bottoms up connection around those things? So how do you make sure that it doesn’t get get lost in that, that sort of day to day and the volume of team members that you work with
Randy Haffner 22:46 you. But let me let me be clear that when I say leadership, I’m not talking about a single individual, in that I believe that leadership is a team sport. And I think that, you know, in an organization the size of AdventHealth , with nearly 80,000 employees, we have 6000 middle managers out there, that are the everyday interface, in terms of how AdventHealth lives into our mission, vision and values on a daily basis. And so first and foremost, that it starts with leadership and making sure that you have a leadership structure that is not just about the talking head, that sits on the top of the pyramid of the organization and perhaps produces a video once in a while, and so forth, but that it is instilled in and is part of the fabric of how we manage and how we conduct ourselves and how those those values make their way into service standards as to how you conduct your culture, your business as a culture, every day, every interaction.
Renee DeSilva 23:53 You’ve talked to staying on this for a bit, you’ve talked by about this concept of that any organization is really only one generation away from losing their link to values. Yes. What did you mean by that?
Randy Haffner 24:08 Yeah, what the research shows is that, you know, the world is always evolving. And in that evolution, we’re always having to rethink how do we approach healthcare? How do we approach medicine? How do we approach our community, and you know, each of us get a chance through through our 40 years in the workplace to make a difference. What the research shows is that organizations that only worry about their time in the office will lose their values, because they have not spent the time in terms of the succession planning and getting the next generation fully on board and in a holistic way, meaning they understand that they have an emotional connection to it, and that they conduct their business and their behaviors in that way. And so if we are not being purposeful, about creating that next generation that comes after us not just knowing how to do business, if you will, but living the values, understanding the values, having a emotional connection to the values, then the values of the organization will change as leaders change.
Renee DeSilva 25:23 Yeah, I love that. I think the the being intentional around it matters. And a lot of that then comes down to what formal programs and development opportunities that we embed, to keep that that connection. So just talk a little bit around how advant has thought about AdventHealth has thought about talent development program to keep this at the fore.
Randy Haffner 25:43 Yeah, about six, seven years ago, we created Leadership Institute as part of our corporate offerings. And I’ve been given the the privilege of providing executive leadership over our Leadership Institute. And we’ve created a lot of different programs and a lot of different approaches. One of them that was one of our signature early programs was called the as the Executive Leadership Program, or ELP. And it’s roughly 40 hand selected individuals throughout the organization that become part of an 18 month program, where we go through and talk about what it’s like to be a leader within this organization. And, you know, over the course of that 18 months, we do everything from strategy to perform as to clinical. In fact, we have a group up in Washington, DC as we speak right now, learning the larger perspective of healthcare and how lation and advocacy work is so important, not just in terms of the internal and interior work that happens within hospitals, but that external, larger landscape of environment. So these 40 individuals go through this program, they go through a spiritual formation, they go through business training, they go through, you know, as I said, advocacy work and and sets them up. And this is one of those programs that quite honestly, we could send people away. There are a lot of good schools out there, whether it be through Wharton or Harvard, and so forth. And I’m not saying anything bad about those programs, because they’re great. However, the reason we chose to create our own leadership institute is to pull all that best knowledge forward, put it put it into context of our values, how you live the AdventHealth values in terms of all of the different components of doing business. And so we have everything from case studies of Southwest Airlines. But then we’ll bring a case study from AdventHealth . And most of the time, these case studies are times that we stubbed our toes or made the wrong decision, or ended up with an issue with the Department of Justice and what we learned from that. And how do you reconcile that we have these values of honesty and integrity. And at the same time, we messed up in a way that had to pay a multimillion dollar fine. And how do you reconcile that?
Renee DeSilva 28:12 That’s right. I mean, that goes back to your your, what I’m picking up on is just the full circle of your clinical standards of owning our mistakes is often a way that we lead to right like those those standards are not just in the clinical application, but it’s just really how do we show up as a leader here?
Randy Haffner 28:28 Absolutely. And so part of the part of the way that we make sure those values is that we teach to them, and we put programs around them. And quite honestly, it factors into who has chosen to take on additional leadership roles as to whether they truly understand the vision and values of who AdventHealth is.
Renee DeSilva 28:48 And let me ask you one other question maybe a little bit provocative, I know that one of your your sort of your goals or your your values is around inclusiveness. And so I often think about this notion of there are norms in any organization of what a leader ought to show up like, and then there are the unique nuances that make maybe me show up differently than a colleague might show up. So how do you how do you make room for that? Right? Like, the standards, the what does it like to lead here that the norms for us, particularly within the Seventh Day Adventist context, with also every leader is going to show up and be you know, unique to themselves? So does that ever feel like a conflict that needs to be managed? Or how do you think about that?
Randy Haffner 29:33 Now one of our five values is the value of inclusiveness, we absolutely believe that we are better when we bring in different perspectives, and we bring in the talents that come from a lot of different angles feels. Other context, and so we value inclusiveness, and we encourage those voices around the table. We try to create ate a very big tent, recognizing that our values, even though we come from a Christian purpose, there are many that will love being on our team because they carry love in their heart from whatever source it comes from. And we celebrate that. And we welcome that. Because we recognize that even though we may have a specific stated Christian purpose, that love comes in a lot of different ways, and from a lot of different fields and perspectives. And that just like the people that we are here, the communities we’re here to serve, come in all different. In all different contexts, we need to be able to serve our communities that way as well.
Renee DeSilva 30:45 Yeah, that’s very powerful. All right. So maybe just wrapping us up here landing this a bit. I’m curious as I’m chatting with you. Just the way that you animate the the roots of your upbringing, you know, father and brothers were minister, mother and sister were a nurse. If you are not a US president and CEO of a large health system, what do you what what was the other career path? Like where else what other job do you think you would have maybe landed in
Randy Haffner 31:14 you know, my, my inner child says I’d love to be a ski instructor. But I spend most of my winters even though I live in Florida, I am an avid snow skier. And so now in all playfulness,
Renee DeSilva 31:31 I’m hearing I’m hearing like a ski guide somewhere, I
Randy Haffner 31:34 probably would be in some, some element of business, I would probably own my own business, quite honestly, that had a larger community benefit, you know, very vested in the success of the community, but at the same time, something that would I’d probably own my own business, quite honestly.
Renee DeSilva 31:56 Interesting. Yeah, you also get a lot of Professor coach vibes from from you. So I wondered if you would have if there was something in that in that lane that would have resonated, that’s what made me ask the question.
Randy Haffner 32:09 And that’s, that’s quite honestly, those that work with me, I think, would say that, you know, I love mentoring young talent, I love putting teams together, I absolutely do that as part of my job today, and that’s why I love working with the Leadership Institute, that I think I probably enjoy being a professor in. I’ll call it in the industrial setting, as opposed to in an academic setting. I got to read papers and, and get people grades and confer degrees, as much as I just want to help people learn, and be excited about learning and recognize that, that each day we should be learning something new, and that we should be advancing both ourselves as well as our company as well as the people around us.
Renee DeSilva 33:00 That’s, that’s fabulous. All right, final question. And I asked this of all my guests, it’s a little bit of a cheat. But if you could invite any two people to a table that you personally curate, for, to continue this conversation, and maybe to spark another, who would they be and why?
Randy Haffner 33:15 You know, there, that the person that unfortunately, is not alive today that I just wish that I would have had a chance to sit around the table is Nelson Mandela. I am inspired by his Long Walk to Freedom. I am curious as to how he was able to lead after being falsely imprisoned for so long, and still have the force of character to transcend it all and have the greater good of a community and a nation in mind. I would love to sit around the table and be able to learn from somebody that made such a huge difference against so many odds how he was able to transform himself from basically a rebel that that believed that violence was the best way to cure to one that became a pacifist, and understood that love conquers all. And so it’s a little bit of a cheat to your cheat. That’s a good one. Unfortunately, he cannot be at the table, but I think we could certainly learn from his legacy.
Renee DeSilva 34:24 That’s great. The creative license is powerful. I love that. Well, I think that’s a perfect place to land. Randy. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you today. And I really appreciate you joining me.
Randy Haffner 34:34 It’s been my pleasure. Thank you, Rene.
Renee DeSilva 34:36 Thank you. Thanks for joining me at the table with Rene de Silva, a podcast brought to you by the Health Management Academy. I hope you enjoyed this episode. And if you did, subscribe, and drop us a review on Apple podcast, Spotify, or wherever you’re listening to this podcast now for all of our episodes, including show notes and transcripts and more information about how you might join be at the table in the future please head to H M academy.com/podcast. I look forward to having you back at my table next time. Talk to you again soon.