62_The Transformative Power of Culture: The Journey of The University of Kansas Health System

When times are tough (or even when they’re not), culture is everything. In this podcast, Quint talks to Bob Page and Tammy Peterman, executives at The University of Kansas Health System and coauthors of the book Proud But Never Satisfied: Ten Transformative Actions for Healthcare Systems. The academic health system has had quite a journey of transformation. In 1997, they had the lowest patient satisfaction ranking in the nation (a dismal 5th percentile). Now, for over a decade, they’ve been nationally ranked as one of the best hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report. 

Bob and Tammy talk about how their emphasis on culture has helped them sustain these results. It created a strong foundation and the consistency to get through some rough patches over the years, most recently COVID-19. And they believe culture will carry them into the future. Here are a few of the insights they share:

·       You must have “guardians of the culture” to maintain the consistency.

·       Communicate early. Don’t make people wonder what the plan is. Make sure they have the information they need to lead their team.

·       When the message stays consistent over time, people know what the core expectations are. This is invaluable.

·       Recognizing the value of the entire team (frontline care providers and those who support them) is critical. Leaders should spend most of their time rewarding and recognizing others.

·       Always think, What can we do differently? What can we do better? It’s important to be aware of that creative tension where you want to feel really good about where you are but also keep improving.


Bob Page and Tammy Peterman are coauthors of Proud But Never Satisfied: Ten Transformative Actions for Healthcare Systems (Huron Consulting Services, LLC, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-62218-111-7, $30.00).

Bob Page is president and CEO of The University of Kansas Health System. Page has guided its transformation from an institution with the lowest patient satisfaction ranking in the nation to an organization consistently recognized among the best comprehensive academic medical centers in the country by the Vizient Quality and Accountability Study since 2006.

Tammy Peterman, MS, RN, FAAN, is president, Kansas City Division, and executive vice president, chief operating officer, and chief nursing officer at The University of Kansas Health System. The organization achieved Magnet status four times in a row—to date—and “Best Hospital in Kansas City and Kansas” consistently under her leadership.

The University of Kansas Health System is a premier academic health system providing a full range of services, from routine primary care to advanced care for complex conditions. With over 1,100 staffed beds, the system includes facilities located across the Kansas City metropolitan area, as well as hospital and clinic locations in Great Bend, Lawrence and Topeka, Kansas. During the past fiscal year, the health system cared for more than 355,000 unique patients, coming from every county in Kansas, 96 percent of counties in Missouri, each of the 50 states in the U.S., and nearly 30 international locations. The health system appears on many best hospital lists and is recognized for its quality and service, provided by an outstanding team of staff and physicians. For more information, visit http://www.kansashealthsystem.com/.