Healthcare’s Dynamic Duo: 16 Years Together

Dan as BatmanI love superheroes. Some of you may know that I am a Batman fanatic. The bonus room in our home is affectionately called the Bat Cave. That quick personal background is provided to give context for the theme of this blog post: Healthcare’s Dynamic Duo.

If ever there was a dynamic duo in healthcare, it would have to be Mike Biediger (CEO) and Tod Augsburger (COO) of Lexington Medical Center (LMC) in West Columbia, South Carolina. The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that this is an apt analogy. Together, over the last 16 years, they have built a remarkable healthcare enterprise – and they’re not done.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 8.22.34 PMI have long admired Mr. Biediger (that’s what many of us call him out of respect). He is the prototypical quiet leader. He leads through his actions and people are quick to follow him. Mike is the Batman in this relationship; not as stoic as the real Batman, but definitely someone with quiet strength. And with Mike, there’s always more going on inside than meets the eye. He is pensive and thoughtful. And he respects the opinions of his team – including the consultants.

In 2008 I wrote an article about Mike and his version of management by walking around: Living the Brand at Lexington Medical Center.  (Healthcare Advertising Review, September/October 2008) Here’s an excerpt from that article (shared on my blog):

“The employees of Lexington Medical Center (LMC) live the brand – a brand defined by a culture of service and caring – where employees are engaged and perform at the highest levels. This positive workplace culture doesn’t come cheap. Beyond empowering and inspiring employees, LMC’s leadership has made a serious investment in employee satisfaction, developing a compensation structure that is among the best in the region. But the return on investment, measured in staff retention and the ensuing patient satisfaction, makes it all worthwhile.

If you ever doubted that there is a direct link between employee satisfaction and patient satisfaction, Lexington Medical Center’s Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores consistently place it among the best in the country. In 2007, Lexington Medical Center receive Press Ganey’s Summit Award, given to organizations that have achieved and sustained the highest level of excellence in patient satisfaction. This caring culture that leads to employee and patient satisfaction begins with the egalitarian leadership style of LMC’s president and CEO Mike Biediger. Within his organization, Mike is the standard bearer for patient and family-centered care. At least once a day, Mike walks the halls of the hospital with a friendly demeanor and an eye for detail.”

Under Mike’s leadership, LMC has developed clinical affiliations with Duke University Medical Center (heart and cancer) and has successfully launched a thriving heart program – an initiative that faced incredible opposition from neighboring hospitals, and looked like it might never get off the ground. Read more about Mike and his legacy in this recent article from The State Newspaper: “Lexington hospital’s ‘quiet giant’ leaving impact beyond his tenure.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 7.58.58 PMThe Boy Wonder: Tod has served at Mike’s side for sixteen years. Like the boy wonder (Robin/Dick Grayson), Tod is a can-do kind of guy and, compared to outwardly mild-mannered Mike, can be more outspoken. That’s a good thing. Healthcare organizations need more Tod Augsburgers. We could benefit from being a little more brash – even audacious. When Mike and Tod (and their Board of Directors) took on the entire healthcare establishment in South Carolina to advocate for a heart program at Lexington Medical Center they faced incredible odds. But it is worth noting that they got it done! Last year they performed more than 300 heart surgeries at LMC.

In October 1, Mike Biediger will retire and Tod will take the reins at LMC. It is a natural succession and one I celebrate. Tod has benefited from 16 years with one of the best role models that I can imagine. We should all be fortunate enough to have mentors like Mike Biediger.

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