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Who Wants to Be a Hospital CEO?

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, April 20, 2012

If you are in charge of a hospital or health system these days as chief executive officer, you have my sympathy.

A recent study out of the American College of Healthcare Executives shows that your average job longevity for hospital chiefs (about 16% annually), is flat compared with last year and down from 18% in 2009. It approaches the shelf-life of the average college football coach (roughly 20% annually). The difference: In most cases, they get paid a heckuva a lot more than you do—and their job is easier.

Of course, measuring turnover can be a tricky thing. It can be voluntary or involuntary, but it's a glaring statistic that shows the difficulty of meeting the often-conflicting priorities of the healthcare CEO's major constituencies.

More to the CEO Job Than Maintaining Margin
It used to be that if the CEO managed relationships with the medical staff effectively and maintained that conservative 4% margin, he or she was safe. Conflicts with the medical staff once were once the major reason CEOs lost their jobs involuntarily.

Now it's no longer necessarily so. In fact, I can see a day coming when coddling the medical staff to the detriment of other priorities might be just as likely to get you fired as any other reason.

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