Fred M. Lee
Author, Lecturer, and Guiding Light
08/08/1939 – 03/26/2017

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Fred Lee who will occupy a permanent place in American Healthcare’s Pantheon of Patient Loyalty, Patient Experience, and Compassion by caregivers. Fred, the best-selling author of If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 ½ Things You Would Do Differently, passed away on Sunday evening, March 26, of complications from neuro-surgery due to glioblastoma.

Fred won the 2005 ACHE James A. Hamilton healthcare book of the year with his best-selling book that has sold over 250,000 copies in English and almost 250,000 copies in Dutch, Portuguese, and Korean. The book is currently being translated into Mandarin Chinese and should be released in China this year.

From the time Fred wrote his book in 2004, he traveled with his wife and business partner, Aura, a former director of nursing in Orlando, Florida. He lectured across the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, England, and The Netherlands, sharing his passion and concepts of patient loyalty, the patient experience, and compassion of caregivers. Fred’s greatest desire was for healthcare leaders and caregivers to instill these concepts for future generations. His book was adapted in The Netherlands, where almost every caregiver in the country has a copy.

Although he was born in Kunming, China, spoke Mandarin Chinese, and his surname was Lee, he was not Chinese. His parents were Caucasian American missionaries who were also born in China of missionary parents.

Fred has the enviable distinction of having been both a senior vice president of a major medical center and a cast member at Disney University. Disney recruited him because of his expertise in helping hospitals achieve a culture that inspired patient and employee loyalty. At Disney, he helped adapt and facilitate Disney’s Approach to Quality Service for the Healthcare Industry.

With his insider’s experience and a keen eye for cultural comparisons, he shared his insights with healthcare groups all over the country and all over the world.

He will truly be missed.

Fred Lee has the enviable distinction of having been both a senior vice president of a major medical center and a cast member at Disney University.  Disney recruited him because of his expertise in helping hospitals achieve a culture that inspires patient and employee loyalty.  At Disney he helped develop and facilitate Disney’s 3-day seminar, Disney’s Approach to Quality Service for the Healthcare Industry.  Using an insider’s experience and a keen eye for cultural comparisons, he authored If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 ½ Things You Would Do Differently, which was awarded the 2005 James A. Hamilton Book of the Year from the American College of Healthcare Executives.  Since then, it has become the all-time best selling book on hospital leadership, and is available in four languages.

Past reports show, patient satisfaction scores have been stuck at about 82% for the past 10 years! Fred Lee tells audiences why. He bases his all-day seminars on four key premises:

1. We have reached the ceiling in how far we can go in improving patient perceptions with our current approach.

2. Hospitals cannot go from good (satisfaction) to great (loyalty) by simply teaching and hardwiring what they do at great service organizations. A hospital is not a service, and the ways in which we are different are more important than all the ways we are the same.

3. Culture is driven by management systems and priorities, not by workers or values.

4. Our patient satisfaction surveys, including HCAHPS, and how we report the data, focus on good, and actually make invisible the most important variables it takes to become great.

Mr. Lee’s seminars are dynamic, inspiring, and immensely practical. He motivates healthcare managers by talking their language, using real-life hospital examples, and having walked in their shoes.

Mr. Lee started his healthcare career as Director and then Vice President of Marketing and Development at Shawnee Mission Medical Center near Kansas City. Then he joined Florida Hospital in Orlando, now over 1800 beds. In the 1990s he became a trained Baldrige examiner and a consultant in Total Quality Management, instructing hospital facilitators in the Deming PDCA process improvement cycle.

In 2009 Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, won the national Malcolm Baldrige Award. The Chief Nursing Officer credits Fred Lee’s teachings with finally giving their managers, after a five-year journey copying what the best hospitals do, a new approach to patient perceptions that brought them breakthrough scores and put them over the top for the Baldrige Award.

After his experience at Disney and the success of his book, he has traveled nationally and internationally, conducting seminars for hospital leaders about how to take a culture from good to great using unique ideas from Disney that are not common in the service industry, or even in the most renowned hospitals.

Click here to listen to Fred Lee's Interview on Radio National Australia – September 26, 2012


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