The era in which healthcare afforded college graduates a secure career future is over. This at a time when there has been a proliferation of graduate healthcare management programs.

While early conventional wisdom suggested that there will be ample employment opportunities given the increasing number of Baby Boomer retirements, industry consolidation and the early-stage shiftentrepreneur from a reliance on inpatient care is actually eliminating/reducing employment opportunities.

For the Millennials who do land management positions will see a period of rapid change that will alter their scope of responsibility or even their career trajectory.

Here are five ideas to consider. These points represent my take on some of the changes that will occur and how those will impact the concept of leadership and the executives who are responsible for navigating the change.

  • Structural Change – Healthcare management will be less about running a brick and mortar inpatient hospitals and more about delivering services on an outpatient/mobile basis to a geographic area, using equipment such as a portable handheld ultrasound, a manoeuvrable ECG machine, etc. to help support patients in an outpatient setting. Over the next 10 years there will be a reduction in the total number acute care hospitals as well as a reduction in size of the surviving entities. Outpatient surgery centers and some other brick and mortar delivery sites also will see declines.
  • Higher Standards of Accountability – Accountability for quality of care, improved service and patient satisfaction as well as reducing costs will be integral to executive performance goals. Today, accountability is not one of our industry’s strongest attributes. But this too is beginning to change. Given the broader economic consequences of our failing to lower costs, this new standard for accountability will be as important as the bottom-line financial performance of an organization.
  • Innovative Leadership – One of the most important leadership competencies for the next 20 years will be the ability to successfully innovate. There are still large numbers of healthcare executives who have the informal tittle Vice President of This Is The Way It Has Always Been. For years they could survive, even thrive, because the structural process of delivering healthcare was not exactly cutting edge. To that point, the common refrain we hear is that healthcare is at least 10 years, or more, behind many other American industrial sectors. To succeed in this new environment, healthcare CEO’s will have to devote more time to continuous learning and exploration, which is another way of saying that the incurious will not do well.
  • Redefining the CEO Role – It is now common for CEO’s, when asked to explain their scope of responsibility, to say that they run this or that health system, hospital or business. While that explanation, on its face, would seem to be a common, short-form vernacular explanation of their role, healthcare CEO’s in the future will find themselves less involved in the day-to-day operations and more focused on marketing – strategy, communication and sales – talent acquisition and talent development. The cornerstone of that human capital approach will be to hire the best and brightest operators and let them do their jobs; provide accountability oversight but let them operate. The CEO of the future who thinks their job is to direct daily operations will, more than likely, not succeed. The successful CEOs in her industries understand that approach, and they lead, not operate.
  • Communicate the Values – I have long felt that the role of the CEO in healthcare has been undervalued and misunderstood. CEO’s will have a special role to play in this new healthcare model and that will require CEOs to be special people. Leadership is a 24/7 responsibility, and we are not referring to the outdated, hands-tightly-grasping command-and-control approach. The CEO must be responsible for ensuring that the enterprise consistently embraces the mission, vision and values of the organization, every day in every encounter. That is a tall order but an essential requirement nonetheless. Far too many hospitals today have what consultants call a Mission Vision & Values Gap – the difference between what they organization says it stands for, and the reality of what really happens.