5 traits of the ideal healthcare CEO

As the industry continues to experience sweeping changes, healthcare organizations that want to survive and thrive will need a new breed of CEO at the helm, Hospitals & Health Networks Magazine reports.

It's no longer enough for healthcare executives to simply preside over a fee-for-service, inpatient-based operation, Tom Giella, managing director of healthcare services for executive recruiter Korn Ferry's Chicago office, told H&HN. "The CEO of the future will be someone who understands the continuum of care, from inpatient to physician offices to ancillary services to home health, pharmacy and nursing homes, and is capable of bundling it all around providing excellent service at reduced cost," he said.

Executives' failure to embrace these new roles may have helped drive the recent trend of high turnover in healthcare C-suites, the article notes. With that in mind, here are some of the attributes that H&HN highlights as the most vital for "ideal" healthcare CEOs:

They embrace change. Executives who have experience implementing new care models or technology are best suited to help healthcare organizations navigate the accelerated transition to value-based payments while maintaining a strong revenue base, according to the article. CEOs also must not shy away from difficult decisions such as management reorganization--though sometimes companies can sometimes accomplish this without resorting to layoffs, San Diego-based Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder told the magazine.

They have clinical competence. With care coordination and practice integration the new reality in healthcare, an effective CEO must be able to cultivate clinician buy-in. Thus a medical background, or a least a deep understanding of clinical operations, is key. One example is that of Susan Fox, R.N., who recently succeeded Jon Schandler as CEO of White Plains Hospital in New York. Fox not only brings clinical acumen from her days as an intensive care nurse, but she also boasts 14 years of experience building and managing integrated physician operations.

They use data to drive strategy. As payers and employers increasingly use analytics to evaluate care quality, modern CEOs must help their organizations develop the internal capacity to do the same, Paul Keckley, managing director for the Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis, told H&HN. And if the data reveal shortfalls, CEOs must also be able to communicate a strategy for improvement and inspire others to embrace it, the article states.

They are agile managers. The major industry trend of mergers and acquisitions means modern CEOs must grapple with a loss of autonomy and carefully navigate complex systems of collaborative decision-making. Regardless of the management structure, however, CEOs must boast strong conflict-resolution skills to handle the inevitable backlash that comes with organizational change, the article states. Organizations should also take care to avoid hiring overly charismatic individuals, as moderate levels of narcissism can make executives more effective but high levels can result in tyrannical and exploitative leaders, FierceHealthcare has reported.

They focus on finances. The rise of bundled payments, declining reimbursements, healthcare reform and other factors mean CEOs now need excellent working knowledge of how to increase efficiency and productivity, the article notes. To achieve this, CEOs need to work with their leadership teams to target savings opportunities not just vertically, but across the continuum of care.

To learn more:
- read the article

Related Articles:
How hospital CEOs can be agents of change
Study finds surprisingly effective way to identify narcissistic CEOs
Healthcare CEO turnover drops from all-time high
4 healthcare leadership trends for 2015
Hospitals seek leaders with finance--not healthcare--experience
CEOs weigh in on emerging healthcare trends for 2015
3 ways hospitals promote physician leadership