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The Future is Now: HealthLeaders Announces UpNext for Emerging Leaders

Analysis  |  By HealthLeaders Media Staff  
   November 10, 2022

A new program connecting up-and-coming healthcare leaders launches with the UpNext Exchange in Austin, Texas in March 2023.

The Great Resignation has not spared healthcare, with the top levels of hospitals and health systems seeing retirements and resignations of executives at an accelerating rate. That shift is also opportunity, as healthcare organizations have stacked their leadership teams with up-and-coming talent that will take the industry in new directions.

It is that next generation that HealthLeaders Exchange will recognize with a new program. UpNext will celebrate and connect the best and brightest of healthcare's future leaders. The UpNext inaugural group of 35 leaders will be announced in early December. Honorees will be invited to convene and share their insights into the future direction of the industry at the UpNext Exchange, March 2-3, 2023, in Austin, Texas.

Turnover has been the leadership story of the year in healthcare. A Challenger, Gray & Christmas report in May found that CEO turnover across industries had accelerated 18% year over year. In that same analysis period, hospital CEO exits increased 80%, from 20 to 36.

In healthcare leadership, evolution is a constant. But there is some added significance to leadership development this time, says Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of Bristol Hospital, and former member of the Board of Governors of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

"We've come through one of the most difficult times and seem to be emerging in an environment that will forever be changed," Barwis says. "Staffing, financial challenges and our ability to reliably predict prevail."

The overall labor crunch in the industry adds additional fuel to the need for leadership development, he adds.

"Recruiting and retaining staff only happens with consistent and committed leadership, now more than ever our focus has to be on identifying, mentoring and developing future leaders."

UpNext will celebrate and connect 35 emerging leaders from hospitals, health systems, medical groups, and other providers. UpNext will include leaders in administrative, finance, clinical, and tech roles who are positioned to move the industry in new directions.

"The work we do at HealthLeaders allows us to get to know all of these brilliant leaders who are just a few months or few years away from their turn leading the industry," says Jim Molpus, executive director of HealthLeaders Exchange. "The talent level is the strong first impression whenever we connect with these leaders, but what also comes through is a sense of energy around change."

Pictured: Kurt Barwis, president and CEO, Bristol Hospital.

The UpNext program will continue through 2023, with interviews, podcasts, virtual meetings, and research through the HealthLeaders Exchange.

"We don't want to just celebrate them for a single day on social media," Molpus says. "These are the leaders who will be making decisions on future mergers and on shifting the clinical experience. They will hire the next generation of doctors and nurses. They will buy the next generation of EHR. They will figure out how to apply AI. We want to know how they think."

Healthcare executives across the country are invited to nominate emerging leaders from their healthcare systems by going to the nomination page through Nov. 30. UpNext members will be recognized in a feature story on and announced via social media platforms in December. The UpNext Exchange will feature leadership workgroups and the opportunity to learn from and interact with program sponsors.

Barwis, who is also a member of the HealthLeaders CEO Exchange, is encouraged by what he sees in the emerging leaders he interacts with.

"Interacting with post-graduate fellows and early careerists all the time has convinced me that they generally embrace change and will use their creative energy, drive and determination to overcome challenges and obstacles."

And the industry they face certainly won't be the same one we see now.

"They may not take us to the 100% value/risk-based payment system we will live in now, but they will find ways to bend the cost curve, innovate, and partner," Barwis says. "And they'll do all of that while also delivering extraordinary, highly reliable outcomes."

For more information about nominating an emerging leader or questions about the event, please contact

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