The intersection evidence, eminence and eloquence based healthcare leadership


I’m a complete sucker for a great sales pitch. Part of that is because I spent most of my life pitching. Another part is that I spend dozens of hours a month speaking in front of groups of skeptical business leaders and graduate students. I know how a strong presentation style can occasionally overcome less than compelling content. I’ve also seen far too often how a poor presentation style can overcome evidence of empirical business improvements.

The medical field has debated the value of evidence and eminence-based research for years. As in many fields, eminent surgeons carry tremendous weight at industry events and more recently on blogs and web sites. While arguably much of their success is based on evidence of innovative clinical skills and procedural efficacy, many in the profession remain skeptical about the underpinnings of their procedures and the ability for them to be replicated.

Many in medicine have also become increasingly wary of a third character that they refer to as those with “eloquence” based research. This profile is described by the critics as a tanned, well-dressed orator that relies almost entirely on style over substance.

In medicine, as in other professions, eloquence alone is a recipe for extinction in a world where data drives insight and validates results almost instantaneously. It goes without saying that artificial intelligence is a game changer for those demanding evidence based decision making over professional eminence, or rock star eloquence on the stage and computer screen.

Despite some degree of their younger peers not only have greater trust for deep data analytics, they’re increasingly depending on it to supplement the lack of practical experience their older more eminent counterparts possess. As such they demand reliable, evidence-based clinical decision support insights that can be supplemented by eminence-based experience from their more experienced colleagues. Given their frustration in inputting thousands of pages of patient visit notes into the system, they are especially interested in leveraging unstructured data for deeper clinical decision support.

It should be said that evidence-based learning does not come without its own flaws. I recently sat as an observer during a strategy session for a leading peer journal in a medical specialist segment. The editor-in-chief went through a laundry list of how their competitive scholarly journals were juicing the system in the all-important metric of Journal Impact Factors (JIF). This is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year. As described by many scholarly organizations and journals, the JIF is used to measure the importance or rank of a journal by calculating the times its articles are cited.

Any of us who have worked on search optimization know how creative one could be on ratings when gaps in the system are found. In the case of some less than credible medical journals, one can find multiple listings of the research they want to increase in prominence cited within their own journal portfolios. This stuffing effect creates the illusion of being cited within the profession, but in reality all that is being done is shameless vanity metrics with no relation to the merits of the articles. It’s the scholarly equivalent of click bait.

So, what should you do about this, from a personal branding point of view? Feral leaders should aspire to be “triple deep.” That means they should cultivate superb research extraction and replication skills (1); that when socialized, result in research-driven eminence among co-workers and outside peers(2). And finally, all that should be communicated using a well-practiced eloquence (3) that inspires the parties to listen and pass along your message to the professional community.

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