As health disparities continue to impact access to care and health outcomes in the U.S., and patients are demanding quicker access to care, easier communication with their providers and higher quality outcomes, healthcare leaders are seeking innovative ways to narrow the gap.
“With the growth of consumerism in healthcare, consumers are demanding the same of their providers and plans that they do of any other brand they interact with,” says Tom Wicka, CEO and co-founder of NovuHealth, Minneapolis. “They want to be treated like an individual, they want a personalized experience, and they want to be acknowledged for doing the right thing for their health.”
Healthcare leaders need to recognize this, put consumers at the center of their business, and align internally around a comprehensive strategy to engage and serve them. And that’s often meant a change in thinking from leadership and the need for new skills that can help them and their healthcare facilities better succeed.
Craig Samitt, MD, CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) of Minnesota, says over the past decade, the most successful healthcare executives have been the ones who have fiercely protected the status quo—a healthcare model which is progressively outdated, antiquated, and broken.
“The future of healthcare will require us to develop, nurture, and promote those that are inventive, collaborative, forward-looking, customer-oriented, and more value-based,” he says. “If healthcare doesn’t bring in leadership that will reinvent our industry from the inside out, disruptive innovators from other industries will reinvent it from the outside-in.”
Emad Rizk, president and CEO of Cotiviti, a leading analytics company in Atlanta, that helps payers improve programs affecting financial performance, says several trends are coming together to create a perfect storm of change, including rapid technological advancements, an aging population, skyrocketing costs and a provider shortage, to name just a few.
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“Beyond a new level of technological savviness, today’s leaders need to be courageous, collaborative and committed—they must have the courage to take calculated risks, and they must collaborate with other departments in the organization and stakeholders across the healthcare continuum,” he says. “Commitment must be demonstrated beyond words and reflected in actions to employees, clients, patients and the entire organization.”
Adnan Iqbal, co-founder & CEO of Luma Health, a San Francisco-based healthcare communication company, notes a result in this shift is the emergence of new titles such as chief patient experience officers, chief data analytics officers, and chief population health officers—all looking to effectively guide patients along their healthcare journey with the goal of driving (and tracking) strong health outcomes.
“We’re also seeing more roles being filled by executives from outside of traditional healthcare, which is a positive step towards designing care that is nimble and responsive to new patient demand,” he says. “Hand-in-hand, patient experience roles are being elevated to new levels—all with the goal of meeting new patient and payer expectations.”
Mark Prather, MD, CEO and co-founder of DispatchHealth, which provides mobile and in-home health services, says 30% of employees are now in a high deductible plan so as consumers pay for an increasing percentage of their healthcare costs, they will rightfully demand an improved care model that delivers more value for them.
“Leaders who are design thinkers are more capable of building care models that align with the needs of this new healthcare consumer,” he says. “The leaders that I admire, and that I think will be successful, are creatives and collaborators. They understand data and how to use it and possess the clinical acumen necessary to design systems that drive value for the consumer.”