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The Disappearing Hospital CEO

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, August 2, 2013

For instance, a lot of emphasis within systems is directed at cultivating clinical leadership to work hand-in-hand with CEOs and other senior leaders within hospitals and health systems. That's a big shift. Though these folks might lead locally in tandem, their respective bosses are both off-site.  

A lot of this change results from the convergence of running the business and managing patient outcomes, which have until recently been two very separate goals—important in their own way, but not dependent on each other's success. And let's be honest: patient outcomes really weren't the hospital's or the health system's worry—at least they didn't directly affect revenues or margin. That's rapidly changing too.

"It's true that the transformation of care has driven leadership further into the organization," says Bowen. "That's why you see more conversations about developing clinical leaders and making them more accountable to outcomes and safety on the front lines."

But, she cautions, just because we may see fewer people with the CEO title in the future, doesn't mean that the requirement for good leaders will be diminished in healthcare. In fact, quite the opposite is likely.

"The transformation of care has driven leadership further into the organization," she says. "The concept of leadership is evolving. New titles include chief transformation officer, chief learning officer, [and] chief strategy officer. We're doing a study about these new titles, but the face of the C-suite is changing."

Somewhat surprisingly, many CEOs seem to welcome that change.


Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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