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The Disappearing Hospital CEO

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, August 2, 2013

Healthcare consolidation is eliminating many hospital CEO jobs. With coordination and cooperation within health system operations the order of the day, those top executive jobs are being sharply redefined.

What's your expiration date?

If you're a hospital or health system CEO, it might be sooner than you think. That's because healthcare leadership is flattening in lots of ways. Where a multi-state hospital system once may have had a CEO for each hospital in its portfolio, that's not always the case anymore.

Many organizations are selecting presidents that oversee many hospitals in a given region, for example. Even if they do maintain a strictly local CEO, those people are often no longer rulers of their own kingdom. They've always taken some marching orders from corporate, but with coordination and cooperation within operations the order of the day, their roles are transitioning.

Presidents might instead be more focused on the public face of the organization, and in getting the pieces that make up the local health system to work together. But they're no longer the boss of the chief medical officer or even the maintenance staff. Those bosses are at corporate, and the CEO is there to make sure they work together.

It's a role shift many CEOs might welcome. One told me recently that he was energized by the fact that his role has moved more toward building relationships locally and away from perusing revenue cycle reports on a daily or weekly basis.

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