Hospital CEO Turnover Hits Record High

John Commins, March 12, 2014

The churn rate for hospital CEOs fluctuated between 14% and 18% for a decade, but spiked to 20% last year, the American College of Healthcare Executives says.

One-in-five hospital chief executive officers churned through the job in 2013, a record rate of turnover, according to the American College of Healthcare Executives.

ACHE tracking data released this week put CEO turnover at 20% in 2013, the highest rate since ACHE began analyzing the numbers in 1981. In the decade before 2013 the turnover rate had fluctuated between 14% and 18% and was at 17% in 2012. ACHE's CEO turnover rates are based on leadership changes organizations report to the American Hospital Association.

Deborah J. Bowen, president/CEO of Chicago-based ACHE attributes the record-high churn to a combination of factors. "Turnover happens because people can leave for better positions, turnover happens when hospitals close, turnover happens when hospitals consolidate and changes are made in leadership," Bowen said in a telephone interview. "There are demographic reasons too, with people who are just retiring and exiting."

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Bowen added that "there is a lot going on in the industry right now" and that some executives might not have the enthusiasm to contend with the sweeping changes mandated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, continuing Medicare reimbursement challenges, various performance measures, along with complex mandates around healthcare IT interoperability.

"We are seeing it reflected in the turnover," she says.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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