The turnover rate of chief executive officers at the nation's hospitals hit a five-year high last year, with 16% of the top spots becoming hot seats, according to new data from the American College of Healthcare Executives.
The Chicago-based ACHE released the figures exclusively to MODERN HEALTHCARE last week. They are schedule to appear in the May/June issue of Healthcare Executive, the ACHE's bimonthly journal. The information is based on data from 4,914 hospitals.
The 16% CEO turnover rate is the highest reported by the ACHE since 1991, when the rate hit 16.7%. Last year's rate marks the third consecutive year the rate has increased.
The highest turnover rate recorded by the ACHE was in 1988, when 18.4% of hospital top spots became vacant.
Not surprisingly, the rising turnover rate since 1993 coincides with the hospital industry's merger and acquisition boom that began in the mid-1990s. When two or more hospitals merge or acquire one another, often one or more CEOs lose their job.
According to figures compiled by MODERN HEALTHCARE, the number of hospitals involved in merger or acquisition activity last year hit a record of nearly 800 (Dec. 23-30, 1996, p. 37).
"Leadership continuity takes on heightened importance in times of uncertainty and change such as these," said ACHE President Thomas Dolan. "Although the increase in hospital CEO turnover between 1995 and 1996 was modest, it cannot be dismissed as insignificant."
The five states with the highest hospital CEO turnover rates last year were Alaska (38%), New Mexico (29%), Hawaii (28.5%), Florida (27%) and Virginia (26.7%).