Healthcare Leader: Dianne Timmering, Signature HealthCARE

img01Dianne Timmering

Vice President of Spirituality and Legislative Affairs for Signature HealthCARE

Education: Executive MBA in Health Sector Management and Policy from the University of Miami; MFA from Spalding University; B.A. in Communications and Business from Vanderbilt University

Hobbies: Writing, reading, traveling and fashion.

What was your first job in healthcare?  What did you take away from that job that you use today?

Director of Spirituality for Signature HealthCARE. So many things – I witnessed the daily challenges and suffering endured by the elders, families and employees whom we serve. Because of this, because I hate suffering, I realized just how bold one could be to bring in a new vision of healthcare delivery intersected with clinical and therapy (a formal intervention of the spiritual within the framework of the careplan).

I learned to fight against the notion that spirituality in a for-profit world couldn’t be done, to go back in when the battle was at its most fierce, the power of evidence and its impact on corporate data points and benchmarks, to pivot when needed and how to shift strategies.

I saw the power of having the critical conversation, the momentum behind a good vision and the needed framework to impact change (Kotter’s model for change). I learned at a whole new level that I don’t like to be told I can’t do something especially if it is salient to the overall mission of the company.

How do you approach management and leadership in your organization?

I try to balance oversight and accountability while granting my team members the right amount of autonomy. I want them to feel empowered to put their talents to best use, and to be able to learn. I am a tough leader with high expectations. I don’t like squandered talent nor the inability to execute at a particular pace. Multi-tasking is a must in the fast paced realm of healthcare and that is not an innate quality and must be learned.

What is your very best skill — the thing that sets you apart from others?

Bold fearlessness. Occasionally it gets me in trouble, but more often than not, it helps me get things accomplished.

How do you revitalize yourself?

Yoga, writing. It’s hard to find time, but I love to travel. Most recently, short trips to London for Wimbledon and a writing trip to India with all its exquisite diversions and glorious peoples. Half my family lives in West Hollywood, so I try to spend Easter and other holidays out there.

What’s one piece of advice you remember most clearly?

To be intelligent or have brilliance has its limitations; it is persistence within one’s own truth regardless of noise that yields the desires of the heart.

As a leader, we all face many challenges.  What challenges do you face in your role that are unique because you work in healthcare?

We face massive challenges on the legislative front, in Kentucky in particular. This has grown in enormity, and in consequence, during the past few years. Kentucky needs tort reform, as well as regulatory change on many other fronts.

To see the looming threat to our residents and patients, to our skilled workforce and the families who depend on them – it’s frustrating at times because we’re overdue for change if we expect to reach our state’s potential as a national health care leader. The new Kentucky administration should be an elixir of sorts that we have long awaited for, even considering reformed tax policy and its impact on the every man/woman, corporate innovation and statewide HQ recruitment.

What was the most significant event/development in your company in 2015?

Continued growth and expansion. We believe unabashedly in our mission, vision and plans, and we’ve taken that to even more communities while other providers leave the post-acute field. We’ve diversified but still continued to invest in the skilled-nursing space because we see the value these centers hold as vital community resources and meet a human legacy need.

The future model for residential nursing care will be very different than it has been and we are at the front of it in the 10 states we reside as well as on the federal level. We are “furthering”, helping to lead the quest related to healthcare access, affordability with an enhanced quality outcomes approach.

Moreover, this is the greatest rate of change we have seen since the early 90s and with so much legislation coming out, budget constraints, potential negative pay for scenarios, new regulatory (CMS mandates) and reimbursement impacts, and endless episodic modeling, the opportunity to align best patient care, internal strategic development and market based synergies is a reason to be excited about the future of healthcare and our impact on its course.

What opportunities do you see for your company in 2016?  Challenges?

Continued expansion, both downstream and up, along the entire care spectrum and unique partnership opportunities related to new payment reform modeling including bundling and risk sharing. We’re also optimistic about new leadership in Frankfort, and what that might mean for our state’s healthcare industry, workforce development and right to work laws.

Skilled-nursing operators, in particular, will continue to wrestle with narrow margins, heightened regulations, litigation and staffing challenges.

If you could eliminate one of the healthcare industry’s problems overnight, which would it be?

The out-of-control litigious reachings in an industry where the vulnerable need our care, mission and vision. We as a state need tort reform for expanded economic viability.

Where do you do your best thinking?

It depends. Sometimes alone, while walking; other times while feeding off the energy of rich discussion with writers and healthcare peers, and really anyone with a frank boldness. Also, while reading a good book, listening to a great speech and doing hot yoga.