As we move inexorably to a series of regulatory and reimbursement changes irritated by congressional ineptitude, certain silent trends are emerging that will alter key aspects of the healthcare management infrastructure.

These not-yet visible trends revolve around leadership, career management, talent acquisition and retention, and the types of businesses we are in.  Some of these changes will be disruptive to the way business is conducted, changing existing client-vendor relationships and pushing leadership turnover as well as dramatically creating new rules of the road for the job search market.  Many are already underway, others will surface with a frenzy over the next five to seven years.

  • A handsome doctor gesturing silenceNew executive skill sets will be required. The top-down/command-and-control style that has been popular for more than 50 years is already changing.  CEOs and other members of the senior leadership cannot maximize the value of their employees unless they know how to punch the right buttons.  The conductor model will emerge as the most successful leadership style.  Graduate schools will have to scramble to keep up.
  • Early and mid-careerists will not have the type of career in healthcare leadership that they thought they would.  The ‘big box’ hospital will be much smaller and more focused. More of the action will be outside the brick and mortar.
  • Just when you thought hospital marketing had plateaued, that discipline’s role will be critical in the rush to sign up patients.  Population health management’s good intentions notwithstanding, many hospitals will make this a battle over patient/market control.
  • For CEOs to maximize the value of their employees they will need a better understanding of who their employees are, generationally and through their personality, and develop communications strategies that leverage the power of the Intranet through written, audio, and video messages.  All members of management will be profiled so that leadership will quickly know where and what their motivation/action buttons are.  Many corporations are already aggressively pursuing this 21st century employment connectivity.  Healthcare is woefully behind.
  • The top performing health systems, hospitals and providers will replace their internal “pay and pray” candidate sourcing model with pinpoint recruiting using tools to enhance predictive selection, and assessment programs that will determine whether the people who are employed match company values from the standpoint of integrity and a passion for quality and safe care.  Pinpoint recruiting will be necessary because hospitals can no longer afford a system in which fifty percent of new recruits are gone inside 24 months.
  • In addition to candidate tracking systems, which most health systems and larger hospitals already have, healthcare organizations will need to invest in comprehensive market/business intelligence software that allows recruiters to identify specific executive and management talent within top-performing competitors.  The healthcare organizations with the best talent will be the market winners.  The competition for the top performers is already intensifying.
  • Today, many CEOs seek out the mainstream recruiters when it comes to identifying the top talent. The cost is not an issue. However, cost will become an issue.  Search firms are already beginning to add value to their standard search agreements, from onboarding to team building workshops and transition coaching.  Clients will use those recruiters who take the time to learn their organization and their markets and add value to the organization between search assignments.  Traditional transactional recruiting in healthcare will be a thing of the past within eight years.
  • There will be fewer executive level jobs as the acute care segment shrinks over the next ten  years.  Moreover, there will be fewer portals of entry for job seekers as the result of health system and hospital consolidation.
  • Emergency medical services agencies will alter their scope of service from treat and transport to mobile healthcare.  This is already happening with innovative systems like MedStar in Fort Worth.  Unless the inefficient largely unionized fire department EMS/rescue model can adapt to the needs of hospitals, many will be irrelevant within 10 years.  EMS agencies will sign deals with hospitals to manage readmission programs, focusing on those patients who are at risk for readmission.
  • Hospitals that dumped insurance products, home care agencies and networks of community hospitals will revisit those decisions.  An insurance/managed care company will be essential in order for hospitals to understand their patients for population health management.  Care outside the hospital will become more consequential, financially speaking, than inpatient care is today.
  • Medical record librarians will develop new skill sets to ensure they can translate the treasure trove of population health management in their medical records.

There are more trends that are beginning to develop.  This is only a scratch of the surface.