Whether the sought-after skills are related to telehealth, supply chain management, or diversity and inclusion, the health system CEO role is going to look different than it did prior to the pandemic, executive search experts said. casts
“Telehealth is going to be significant as we look forward in regard to leadership competencies,” Madden said. “One of the must-haves in searches is going to be involvement in innovation related to technology and how to best use it, as well as advanced strategic initiatives in training physicians to have appropriate bedside manner via video and make sure the organization is getting reimbursed at the maximum level.”
Disaster planning, supply chain management and COVID-19 experience will also rise to the forefront, Madden said. “One of the requirements will be how you managed COVID-19 and what were the results,” he said.
Lower capital expenditures and related cost-cutting measures will become even more important over the short and medium term, Keckley said. Academic medical centers, for instance, will not be able to use research as a justification for an inefficient operating model. “You can’t leverage the teaching and research model like you did in the past,” he said. “You can’t subsidize research and teaching by charging more for patient care. The AMC CEO is going to need to be a different breed.”
Flexibility will be key, with CEOs needing to not only ensure strong alignment across the entire C-suite, but be able to shift directions quickly.
And organizations are likely to be under more scrutiny, too, in terms of how they address inequality both in care and their leadership ranks. “The idea of whole-person care and the social determinants of health is still foreign to most people in traditional roles,” Keckley said.
Minorities only represented 11% of executive leadership positions at hospitals, even though minority groups combined made up nearly 40% of the U.S. population in 2015, according to a survey from the American Hospital Association from that year, the most recent data available. Only 14% of hospital board members and 9% of CEOs are minorities, the AHA’s Institute for Diversity and Health Equity found.
The share of minorities in leadership positions has remained flat since 2011, and chief diversity officers made up the vast majority of those positions.
Gender equity hasn’t improved much either. Only five of the country’s 50 largest not-for-profit health systems by operating revenue were led by female CEOs in 2018 and those women made 67 cents for every $1 their male peers made, a Modern Healthcare analysis found.
Novant Health has built diversity inclusion and health equity into the short- and long-term goals of its workforce, from the executive team to front-line employees, said Carl Armato, CEO of Novant. “They are rewarded based on delivering those goals,” he said, adding that the organization sets certain benchmarks as it relates to hiring and outcomes. “The goal is to reflect the communities we serve.”
For many organizations, these goals have been an afterthought. That needs to change, experts said.
“We have seen a focus on developing diversity on the board and executive team,” Madden said, noting an increasing awareness of unconscious biases. “But what we see coming out of this is not so much talking about it as do you understand what it means.”
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