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Last week, John spoke to the Texas Organization for Rural and Community Hospitals Leadership Retreat at the Lakeway Resort and Spa near Austin. His topic – Talent Management: Your People Are Your Most Important Asset.

The pace of change in healthcare reform is picking up speed. It promises to be an interesting 2015 for all healthcare provider executives, especially those who run rural and community hospitals.

Planning For The FutureWhile some may argue or debate about the pace of this change, there can be little doubt that the end game will be all about transformation. And with transformation comes the disruption of our comfortable, albeit costly and inefficient, business model. The phrase value-based reimbursement is so easy to annunciate, yet the consequences of this shift in how we are paid for what we do is staggeringly enormous.

To borrow a thought from Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, the leadership strategies and the skill sets that helped you achieve success over the past 25+ years will not ensure your success in the new healthcare environment. We all need to change the way we lead, acquire new knowledge and begin thinking about the programs and services that will ensure our survival, and the type of people we must hire to meet that goal.

Change is hard and transformation can be mind-blowingly painful. The one immutable truth for CEOs during this period will be: It All Begins With You. If you like what you do, and you want to prolong your career, you must get into the game by planning for the future sooner rather than later.

There are many things you need to begin focusing on but none more important than determining what kinds of employees, and skill sets, will be needed. If your plan is to wait for the waves of change to begin rolling ashore, heed this advice: these are not gentle waves that might grow a little bigger, but the beginning of a tsunami. You cannot wait to begin planning.

Here is but one example of the changes that await us just around the corner: the job of Risk Manager in the 1980s to 2014 was all about minimizing the risks of patient falls, employee injuries, preventable medical errors, to name a few. Within five years, the new Risk Managers must be population health management specialists who can help you ascertain the health risks of your community of potential patients.

Chief Nursing Officers must be focused on the continuum of care, from preventable care and pre-hospitalization services – outside the brick and mortar – through the acute and post acute care. He or she must have a deep understanding of the changing risk models and look at health service delivery from the total cost of care perspective. The CNO must be a patient care service integrator and innovator who can develop ways to deliver care in a more cost effective and safe manner.

In the past, Vice Presidents of Marketing focused on strategies for boosting inpatient admissions. In the future, it will be all about keen analytical skills, due diligence, deal structure, finance, business-to-business/payer contracting, consumer commitment and state-of-the-art communications tools to promote the best-in-area outcomes and exceptional patient satisfaction.

OK, these are fairly superficial when you look at the complexity of the impending change but they reflect the magnitude of change we must make.

It all begins with the leader, but without the right kinds of employees with the requisite skills to deal with the market complexities, the future will be a tough place to survive.