CEO Report: Five Takeaways for Healthcare Leaders

Posted on April 01, 2019

"Customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them." - Steve Jobs

MHA CEO ReportI recently had the pleasure of participating in a special leadership summit hosted by Modern Healthcare. This event featured a small but impressive group of innovators and leaders from around the country. The CEOs of the American Hospital Association, Federation of America’s Hospitals, American Medical Association, Commonwealth Fund, Optum and Oscar Health were present, along with CEOs and senior executives from some of the nation’s most-recognized hospitals and health systems. Our own Sen. Debbie Stabenow was the keynote speaker, and she did a fantastic job painting a picture of the political dynamics in Washington, DC, in the wake of the mid-term elections and the impact on healthcare. 

As I reflect on this engagement, here are five takeaways that I believe are relevant to the MHA membership:

1) Politics is Not a Spectator Sport
MHA CEO Brian Peters with Sen. Debbie StabenowUncertainty in the political realm is not necessarily new, but it is more impactful than ever. With the Baby Boomer-driven growth of the elderly population and the concurrent ballooning of Medicare enrollment, combined with the insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion driven by the Affordable Care Act, public policy and politics has simply become mission-critical. What’s more, there is an increasing drumbeat around the Medicare-for-all concept and similar proposals, such as the Medicare buy-in option for those not quite old enough to secure traditional Medicare coverage. No, the political stars are not aligned at the moment to see these concepts reach the finish line, but it is a reminder of the widely held perception that the current approach to healthcare financing and delivery is not working well for everyone in our society. Bottom line: our mantra that “politics is not a spectator sport” should resonate with Michigan healthcare leaders.   

2) Partnerships and Alliances Matter
Partnerships and alliances — often with traditional competitors or quasi-competitors — are taking on added importance. I have a strong sense that we will see the “strange bedfellows” concept in full effect in healthcare in the coming years. This is driven by the growing realization that most organizations may have wide-ranging skillsets and bandwidth to deal with many issues, but most often have gaps that can be more effectively filled through a strategic alliance as opposed to building something from scratch.

3) Fill Social Determinants of Health Gaps
One of those gaps relates to the social determinants of health (SDOH). The good news is that there is more awareness of these issues than ever before and growing acknowledgement by hospital and health system leaders that we need to be actively involved as partners with patients, families and communities in addressing SDOH. There are some impressive examples of hospital leadership in this space right here in Michigan and, of course, the MHA is pleased to be a founding member of the Root Cause Coalition. Virtually every speaker at the Modern Healthcare event made clear that SDOH is now part of their long-range planning.

4) Data is King
Nearly 30 years ago, a healthcare futurist predicted that the day would come when, as a society, we would be “awash in data of cosmic proportions.” His prediction has proven to be accurate; but within healthcare, blind spots still exist, and we have not fully succeeded in capturing, packaging, analyzing and using the data that exists. It is clear that the most visionary leaders are thinking about data as a key competitive advantage and, in some cases, as a critical element to their future survival. One prescient example from the conference related to the benchmarking of the financial performance of a large academic medical center against peers across their market and across the country. Long story made short, traditional data provided an extremely limited view of their situation, while new, much more robust data painted an entirely different picture and helped to reframe their entire organizational approach. I would be remiss if I did not point out that the MHA has been in this space for over 35 years, and I would strongly encourage you to contact our MHA Service Corporation Data Services team to discuss how we can assist. On a closely related note, the demand for more and better consumer-facing information will only intensify.   

5) Recruit Young Talent
MHA CEO Brian Peters with AHA President and CEO Rick PollackHealthcare needs to be a landing spot for young talent. There is plenty of talk about doctor and nursing shortages, but there is equal concern about the emerging vacuum of leadership talent within healthcare, as seasoned executives (like their clinical counterparts) near retirement. The good news is that the constant and growing spotlight on healthcare has raised our profile in the minds of the younger generation, and we are on the radar screen in a big way in terms of future opportunities. But we need to encourage leadership development so that the next generation can be part of the solution going forward. 

As always, I welcome your thoughts.


  • CEO Report: Five Takeaways for Healthcare Leaders

Tags: Brian Peters, CEO Report, Modern Healthcare

Posted in: MHA Rounds

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