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Building a Leadership Team for the Healthcare Organization of the Future

By Spencer Stuart and AHA's Health Research & Educational Trust
April 2014

Healthcare reform is presenting unprecedented challenges and opportunities for U.S. health care organizations. Healthcare delivery is moving away from the traditional fee-for-service system, designed around “sick care” and hospital stays, toward a population health management system with value-based reimbursement and a focus on improving the quality, safety and efficiency of patient care. Success in this new world will require the development of new business and service models, the creation of new partnerships and alliances, and the development of new capabilities and approaches to organizing effectively around these new models.

In this study, Spencer Stuart and the American Hospital Association examine how the evolution in healthcare delivery and payment models is impacting the leadership, talent and organizational structures of hospitals and care systems. The findings have been drawn from a survey of senior hospital and care system executives and additional interviews with more than two dozen leaders in the field.

Among the highlights:

  • Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed expressed confidence that their current senior management team has the experience and skill sets to help the organization achieve its strategic priorities.
  • Sixty percent of healthcare leadership teams are larger than they were three years ago.
  • Executives with experience in community and population health management and change management experts will be hardest to find within the health care sector, according to survey respondents.
  • Physicians and nurses are being tapped more often for leadership roles, including many of the new senior executive positions that organizations are creating to address specific strategic areas.
  • Traditional hospital roles are changing and becoming more strategic and larger in scope, to respond to the changing demands of the field. CMOs, CNOs, CFOs and COOs are being asked to develop a broader set of leadership and technical skills and increase their understanding of health care delivery beyond the hospital setting.
  • Healthcare organizations today are more willing to consider candidates from outside the sector for certain capabilities; these capabilities include retail and customer insight experience, analytics, enterprise risk management and insurance expertise.
  • Some healthcare organizations are creating physician strategy groups, executive strategy committees or councils on clinical innovation to encourage broader clinician participation in strategic initiatives.
  • Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents said their organization has established in-house customized training programs for senior management during the past three years, and nearly 80 percent said training programs are focused on developing leadership skills.

Read the full study here.