As I prepare for my speech to the Healthcare Leadership Network of the Delaware Valley at Villanova on Thursday night, I find myself thinking out loud with my team, sharing ideas for brand management in a new healthcare environment.

One of the more radical perspectives being discussed is that the young healthcare management graduate students face an immutable truth:  the career they thought they were going to have appears to be moving into the category of ancient history.

The healthcare industry is rapidly approaching the front door of sweeping change, one in which the healthcare delivery business model that we have known for the last 40 years will be dramatically different in terms of design and reimbursement.

Here are some of the factors that will force this overhaul:

  1. Medicare is the biggest driver of the U.S. deficit.
  2. Every four seconds, another Baby Boomer qualifies for coverage.
  3. Healthcare costs continue to outstrip the rate of inflation.
  4. We are currently borrowing 30 to 40 cents of every claim that is paid.
  5. Unfunded liabilities for Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits, retirement programs, and disability, now top $60 trillion over the next 50 years.
  6. The federal government will not be able to fulfill these commitments without significant reductions in spending that some argue must be $9 trillion over the next 10 years.
  7. Corporate benefit programs are undercutting the ability of U.S. companies to compete in a global economy.
  8. Corporations will aggressively push to shift the cost of healthcare to their employees (with allowances and tax benefits).

In the past, being a health system or hospital CEO meant you were responsible for bricks, mortar and all that goes inside – people and technology.  The future, with market demands for lower costs through an emphasis on improving population health, means CEOs will be managing smaller facilities and teams of people strategically positioned throughout the market; an era of leadership of geography not just the traditional venues.

Join the conversation:  Describe your vision of the CEO role over the next 20 years.  What skills and values will be necessary to succeed?

© 2012 John Gregory Self