Executives convened to discuss challenges their organizations are facing and shared solutions to move healthcare forward.
Last week, healthcare executives got together in Atlanta to discuss a myriad of challenges their organizations and the sector are facing, and the solutions they've come up with to address them.
During the Way Forward leadership summit, CEOs, CFOs, clinical care executives, and innovation executives from hospitals and health systems touched upon important discussion topics, including the sustainability of operation margins; digital transformation initiatives; staff recruitment and retention; and clinical workforce safety, security, and wellbeing,
Here are some key takeaways from the thought leadership shared during the event's executive panel discussions.
While the healthcare sector (and beyond) continues to face challenges following the peaks of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and health systems are especially feeling margin, workforce, and disruptor pressures. In order to keep up with current challenges, one CEO spoke about how their organization has weekly operational meetings, where all top-level executives meet to implement and keep track of short-term and long-term strategies.
One of the biggest challenges discussed is that revenue is down for hospitals and health systems, while costs continue to rise. One financial executive explained that there is currently a cost problem, not a revenue problem, when it comes to operational margins.
Hospitals and health systems need to focus on renegotiating costs, including those associated with payers, vendors, and agency contract employees, rather than just focusing on what revenue is coming in. A focus on being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to patient health was another suggestion in serving patients and helping with costs.
There also needs to be a care delivery redesign to address costs and workforce challenges. One executive said that it's time to define the nurses' role and take out the extra administrative burden and bureaucratic hurdles so that they can get back to doing their jobs. Also taking a more dynamic view on nurses and clinical labor by having that staff work at the top of their licenses can also help with staffing.
Workforce challenges, including recruitment and retention, continue to plague organizations. One CEO stressed the importance of organizational culture, and how that can impact recruitment and retention. Another executive stressed that flexibility is now more important than ever for the workforce. Hospitals and health systems must meet workers where they are right now by offering more flexibility in what days and hours clinical staff work, and by being mindful of frontline workers when offering hybrid and remote work to nonclinical staff.
Digital transformation remains behind other industries, but there have been great strides over the past couple years in implementing new technologies and digital strategies into healthcare. One executive gave the advice of starting with the problem that needs to be solved, then decide what technology is needed to solve that problem—not the other way around. Wait to invest in the technology when you know what it's purpose will be and what the return on investment may look like.
For further The Way Forward reading and discussion, please enjoy the interviews below.
Panelist Q&A articles
- The Way Forward: Providence Focused on Workforce Shortages and Clinical 'Slippage'
- The Way Forward: Coronavirus Remains Focal Point for Healthcare Organizations
- The Way Forward: Healthcare Organizations Must Reenergize Staff Even as COVID Continues
- The Way Forward: Q&A with Cook County Health CEO
Panelist podcast interviews
- Planning 'The Way Forward' With Jennifer Greenman of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America
- The Way Forward with Janet Tomcavage, EVP and Chief Nurse Executive at Geisinger Health
- The Way Forward with Luis Garcia, MD, FACS, MBA, FASMBS, President of Sanford Health Clinic
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Melanie Blackman is a contributing editor for strategy, marketing, and human resources at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.