Culture, Healthcare Experience Matters

Turning Around a Healthcare Culture and Empowering People

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We interview Al Stubblefield on Healthcare Experience Matters today about what he learned while leading a major culture shift. He also discusses the art of empowering people in healthcare.  

Al served as president and CEO of Baptist Health Care until retiring from the position in 2012. He is currently President Emeritus with Baptist and an Executive Coach with the Healthcare Experience Foundation (HXF). 

Al’s renowned tenure with Baptist included receiving the highly prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, spearheading a major cultural transformation, drastically improving mediocre patient and employee satisfaction scores, and the publication of his widely popular book in 2004.

His book, The Baptist Health Care Journey to Excellence: Creating a Culture that WOWs, was translated into different languages and gained worldwide popularity. The book sold more than 100,000 copies while educating healthcare leaders throughout the globe.

“We decided that our culture was going to be about delivering great service, and we were going to lead the nation in patient satisfaction,” Al said. “If you were going to be successful in our organization, then you were going to buy into that culture.”

During his time leading Baptist, healthcare leaders and executives from all 50 states came to learn from Al’s team to try to duplicate the success in patient satisfaction Baptist was achieving.

According to Al’s Wikipedia bio, more of his notable accomplishments include:

  • Training Magazine recognized him in 2002 as one of eleven "CEO's Who Get It."
  • Modern Healthcare Magazine's list of 100 Most Powerful People in Health Care – 2004 
  • Ethics in Business Award from Combined Rotary Clubs of Pensacola, Florida – 2004 
  • Award of Honor from American Hospital Association – 2008
  • The adjustments Al made during his tenure have been sustained. Baptist Health Care is a world class facility with patient satisfaction remaining a cornerstone of that success.    

    “Part of the journey was recognizing that culture matters,” Al said. 

    When speaking with Al, it is remarkably clear that he wants people to feel ownership in their organizations. Employees cannot feel like they are “renters.” They must feel an ownership stake in the success -- or failures -- of the patient satisfaction measures at their hospital. 

    Empowering employees to feel ownership was a major factor in the organizational culture that Al led at Baptist. Having employees feel as though they had true stakes in the success of their hospital, and that they were partners in the organization, was key to satisfied patients.

    As discussed towards the end of today’s podcast, the management principles that Al utilized to lead the turnaround at Baptist are transferable to almost any other business or industry. The tactics are timeless and proven.

    We are very excited to welcome Al to our podcast. Today’s episode is loaded with great insight from the perspective and experience of a legendary healthcare executive. Other subjects covered in today’s podcast include: 

  • Selecting and retaining great employees.
  • The importance of committing to service excellence. 
  • Creating systems of accountability.
  • The pillars of operational excellence. 
  • Maximizing employee loyalty. 
  • “Happy employees, satisfied employees, and employees that buy into the culture of the organization are going to give you great scores when you conduct an employee satisfaction survey. They are going to yield very satisfied customers,” Al said. 

    Learn More

    Listen now:

    Healthcare Experience Matters has more great episodes with healthcare executives. Check out some recent episodes here:

  • Shaping Better Healthcare Experiences through Leadershi
  • Healthcare, Leadership, and Striving to Achieve Top-Tier Clinical Outcomes 
  • An Intro to Compassionate Leadership with Dr. Nita Magee 
  • Learn more about Al's book, The Baptist Health Care Journey to Excellence.

    Make sure you are following Healthcare Experience Matters on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, or any other platform you prefer to listen to podcasts! Stay tuned—we publish new episodes every Thursday morning. 

    Culture, Healthcare Experience Matters