What happens when you take dozens of healthcare executives, who run some of the nation’s biggest organizations, out of their element and put them together in a meeting room for two days?
That’s what Modern Healthcare did last month at our annual Leadership Symposium.
I won’t bury the answer. They don’t get anything figured out. They commiserate a lot, nodding as one CEO details challenges that others are experiencing. They blame a lack of government support. They discuss why companies they view as interlopers and competitors—whether insurers, private equity firms or tech giants—aren’t under as much scrutiny as they are. The rhetorical question, asked by one speaker but contemplated by many, was, “Is the playing field fair?”
But during these candid conversations, many of them also seem to have taken to heart the quote attributed to Winston Churchill during World War II: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Business models are getting refocused, and health systems are working internally or forging partnerships to come up with new ones. Many of the efforts are best described as fledgling.
Providing care for people in their own homes or in post-acute settings is viewed as a major opportunity to lower system costs and improve outcomes. But it comes with questions, like how employee roles will be redefined and how caregivers will be retrained, particularly as some work outside the sterile walls of a hospital and in settings that can be less than ideal.
I heard a general sense of agreement that a transactional approach to healthcare doesn’t work. What I wanted to hear more of is how providers are going to focus on and care for people as consumers, before something goes awry and they become patients. Also missing was much discussion about community involvement.
There was more talk about ESG initiatives, but as one executive pointed out to me, it seemed like the ‘e’ in environmental and the ‘s’ in social were uppercase and efforts on the ‘g,’ for governance, are still lowercase. That’s a problem.
And there were plenty of what-ifs when it comes to technology and innovation. The challenge, as early adopters noted, is focusing on a problem that needs to be solved, not developing a product or service in search of a problem.
Ambitious planning is exciting to hear. A year from now, I look forward to hearing more about execution.