Future-Proofing Healthcare: Strategies of 17 Executives for the Next Five Years

Becker's asked C-suite executives from hospitals and health systems across the U.S. to share their organization's areas of growth for the next few years. 

The 17 executives featured in this article are all speaking at the Becker's Healthcare 11th Annual CEO+CFO Roundtable on Nov. 13-16, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.

To learn more about this event, click here.

If you would like to join as a speaker or a reviewer, contact Mariah Muhammad at mmuhammad@beckershealthcare.com or agendateam@beckershealthcare.com. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Jessica Cole at jcole@beckershealthcare.com.

As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who will speak at our conference. The following are answers from our speakers at the event.

Question: Given the rapid changes in healthcare, how do you envision the future of your hospital or health system in the next five years, and what strategic steps are you taking to ensure it remains at the forefront?

Kevin B. Mahoney. CEO, University of Pennsylvania Health System (Philadelphia): Our five-year vision leverages centuries of accumulated knowledge with today's talent, technological capabilities and robust biomedical research infrastructure. The health system's future is focused on enhancing the Penn Medicine experience for both patients and providers by simplifying care, serving as a source of comfort, ease, and assurance for the patients, and becoming the most clinician-friendly place to work. We are embracing technology to streamline interactions at every touchpoint, comfortably embedding Penn Medicine in patients' everyday lives and reducing processes that hamper clinicians' work, including transforming the electronic medical record into a better, less cumbersome tool for care delivery, among other tactics. 

The work of Penn Medicine has led to innovations, such as life-saving precision therapy, CAR T-cell therapy for cancer, gene therapy for congenital blindness, and mRNA technology to halt a global health crisis, to name only a few. We remain committed to building from this foundation of discovery to accelerate treatment advances, increase access to care, encourage treatment adherence, and enhance patients' comfort, all of which ultimately help people live longer, healthier lives. 

Craig Kent. CEO, UVA Health (Charlottesville, Va.); Executive Vice President of Health Affairs at University of Virginia: As the healthcare industry continues to rapidly change, UVA Health envisions an innovative, systemwide approach to ensure that people across the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond can receive the highest quality care. Through our strategic plan, and as we continue to grow, we are working as One UVA Health team to centralize and streamline infrastructure across our institutions, which helps us increase access to care for patients, deliver superior patient outcomes, and be responsible stewards of our resources. 

We have and will continue to focus on strategic partnerships, acquisitions, and integrations that allow us to deliver state-of-the-art care. For instance, we are investing in telehealth to increase access to care for rural populations; we are capitalizing on regional partnerships to improve complex care through our minority stake in an eastern Virginia health system with a focus on cardiothoracic surgery, oncology, and transplants; we are expanding our footprint across the state, as we have with our community health centers in northern Virginia; and we are collaborating with government, academic, and corporate partners to create the new, half a billion dollar Paul and Diane Manning Institute of Biotechnology. Each of these initiatives, and many more, brings UVA Health closer to our goal of becoming one of the nation's leading public academic health systems.

Erik Wexler. COO of Providence (Renton, Wash.): Transformation to a greater balance of care delivery outside of the hospital setting to a growing ambulatory environment and into the comfort and safety of one's home will be essential. Easing the way of our patients and providers with seamless technology while activating and thoughtfully tapping into the many possibilities of artificial intelligence will be tactically important to Providence's vision of health for a better world.

Wasif Rasheed. Chief Revenue and Growth Officer of Providence (Renton, Wash.): At Providence, our promise is to “know me, care for me, and ease my way.”  

We have translated that into a strategy that focuses on adopting enabling technologies for our caregivers, introducing new approaches to engage our communities, and partnering with others to bring our promise to life. Our extensive collaborations with Microsoft, Cedar, as well as our role in founding Truveta, are examples of how we are on the vanguard of thoughtful technology adoption with best-in-class partners.  

We are also being deliberate in evaluating what Providence should continue to lead within our communities and where we should engage others; our recent partnerships with USPI and LabCorp are good examples of this – as we focus on investing behind what we do best.  

Finally, we are participating directly in building the healthcare solutions that our communities need – including new access points, such as our clinics for seniors, and new AI-enabled solutions, such as MedPearl, a clinical decision support tool.  I am most excited to see Providence transforming itself to better address our communities’ needs amidst our industry challenges. 

Russ Johnson. President and CEO of LMH Health (Lawrence, Kan.): I envision LMH health as a premier independent community hospital that has built meaningful and intentional relationships with key partners that create the scale and expertise required of successful institutions. We are building a partnership for a strong clinical connection to expand services in our market while building integrated and efficient referral relationships for tertiary and quaternary services we do not provide. 

We are engaging in strategic partnerships that provide scale and value for our commercial insurance relationships, and direct-to-employer contracting. Finally, we are committed to an industry-leading collaborative model with our providers, both employed and independent, that recognizes common interests and a business model that can sustain the organization and support a thriving clinician community.

Melisa Adkins. CEO of UofL Health (Louisville, Ky.) - Mary & Elizabeth Hospital: I envision significant growth for our organization over the next five years. It’s all about thinking of and listening to new ideas, making sure the ideas have a good ROI,  and implementing them before someone else does. Being first to market is important. If you are not first, you are last. As I have stated before, strategies that involve thinking outside of the box are what will ensure longevity. If we do not think of something new and innovative, someone else will. 

I truly believe innovation comes from dreamers. I am a dreamer and I have an amazing team to help my ideas come to fruition. It takes a team. My motto is, “Just because we have not done or tried something before, does not mean we shouldn’t.” Change is the best thing for an organization and sometimes new insights from new people can help with this and facilitate growth. 

A stagnant system that does not change or is afraid of change, will not be sustainable. Change is necessary and thinking outside of the box fosters change. I have brought many new ideas forward over the years and I look forward to discussing them in more depth at the conference. 

Shlomit Schaal, MD, PhD. Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive of Houston Methodist; President and CEO of Houston Methodist Physician Organization: Amidst ever-evolving healthcare dynamics, Houston Methodist is steadfast in its commitment to stand as a global frontrunner in patient-centric care, medical research, and healthcare innovation. Our focus is on providing unparalleled safety and quality of care to our patients across all our facilities, hospitals, and clinics. Central to our success is our dedication to the continual growth and training of our employed healthcare professionals, ensuring they're at the forefront of medical advancements and technologies. We deeply root our ethos our in ICARE values — integrity, compassion, accountability, respect, and excellence — creating an environment where individuals flourish, take pride, and are honored to contribute.

William Morice, MD, PhD. President and CEO of Mayo Clinic Laboratories/Mayo Collaborative Services (Rochester, Minn.): We are seeing dramatic changes in clinical diagnostics following the pandemic, including the introduction of new, disruptive technologies and the drive for increased and convenient patient access. With these changes, we see Mayo Clinic Laboratories participating more broadly in the delivery of diagnostics to patients by providing both complex testing and solutions that can meet the patients where they are, either in their homes or in their communities. 

In addition, we will be developing the data and analytic tools to interconnect the diagnostic data created so it provides optimal value to the patient and their care provider. The steps we are taking today to achieve this vision are investments in our physical and digital infrastructure as well as forming partnerships with organizations with a shared vision and complementary capabilities.

Etene Terrell-Fakorede, MHAEd, MBOE, LSSGB. CEO at The Rehabilitation Institute of Ohio (Dayton) -  Premier Health, Encompass Health: Currently one in three patients in the U.S. receiving inpatient rehabilitative care receive it at an Encompass Health hospital. Encompass Health plans to continue its strategic growth across the country, as our goal is to continue to be the trusted choice in rehabilitation. Encompass Health has announced plans to build between eight and 10 hospitals each year for the next five years, and we plan to continue to strengthen our relationships with local acute care providers to ensure a seamless continuum of care for our patients.

Jandel T. Allen-Davis, MD. President and CEO of Craig Hospital (Englewood, Colo.): Access to health care is not going to go away. People will continue to need us. Starting from this most basic of truisms, our jobs require tending to the myriad of demands on our time, talent and treasure, while continually looking for innovative ways to ensure we are here for the future. Given the current tenuous nature of many hospitals and systems, it is important to be focused on the present, while looking ahead for the next opportunities and threats.

Whether it’s workforce challenges, including remote work or staffing shortages, declining reimbursements in the face of wage and other inflationary pressures, or the geopolitical issues that keep us in a heightened state of anxiety, CEOs and leadership teams are working hard to navigate the current environment. 

I believe that working harder no longer suffices. We tend to manage our issues independently of each other and through a lens of problems to solve, instead of opportunities to leverage. But the issues we face are interdependent, and scenario planning can serve as a powerful lens and just might bear some great fruit.

  • Scenario one: If workforce issues continue for the foreseeable future, what are the implications for staffing our hospitals?
    • We know that workforce challenges are here to stay for a host of reasons (Demographic Drought | Lightcast). Technologies, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, might provide several solutions when used to perform clinical and administrative tasks where judgment is less critical. 
    • Scenario two: If contract negotiations with payers continue on the current challenging path, are there other solutions we should consider, including those that have previously had limited success and perhaps some novel approaches?
      • The reimbursement challenges we are confronting will require a systemic look at all of the contributing factors to the current situation and searching for where there might be opportunities for creative advocacy or value-based strategies that reward excellent outcomes while shielding hospitals from unanticipated risk in ways that are “win-win.”
    • Scenario three: If mental health challenges have moved into a more nuanced frame, one wherein the impacts of the pandemic, the global economy, the decline in civility, etc. are widespread and have shaken the foundation of our country, how is this malaise impacting workforce productivity and a sense of joy and purpose in work?
      • The tremendous emotional impact that our teams (and indeed our leaders) are experiencing, due to a level of geopolitical uncertainty and disruption that most of us haven’t seen in our lifetimes, is not left at the hospital door when folks come to work. They carry this into the workplace, and it is crucial that leaders make sense in a manner that creates comfort and calm in the face of all that is going on around us. We must be more visible to our employees, identify ways to bring some fun into the work, provide information about the state of our organizations in authentic ways that neither scare nor intimidate, listen with empathy to the spoken and unspoken, and give our teams a sense of hope and an opportunity to help. This is the time to remind them of our organizational “whys” and to tap into the moment-to-moment ways we provide environments of support and comfort for those we serve while being a wellspring of inspiration, pride and motivation. In short, ice cream socials alone won’t suffice. But ice cream socials coupled with opportunities to share information and listen to our teams might create the kind of loyalty, retention and commitment to our professions that is desperately needed and will only increase in the future.

I know this is possible. I live it every day at Craig Hospital, a place with the unique mission of serving the neurorehabilitative needs of those who have sustained a spinal cord or brain injury. Forbes just named Craig one of America’s Best Small Employers, and there are a number of other large and small healthcare organizations that receive recognition for the work they do. It doesn’t happen by accident: it’s in all the small details. 

Planning for the future requires that we more closely align strategic possibility with the implications of risks that are within our walls and in our communities and leverage emerging opportunities for partnerships, technology and heart-centered leadership in seeking solutions. 

Michael Archuleta. CIO of Mt. San Rafael Hospital (Trinidad, Colo.): In light of the dynamic shifts in healthcare, we are committed to shaping a future for our hospital that is both innovative and patient-centric. Over the next five years, we envision a health system that leverages cutting-edge technology to enhance the quality and accessibility of care.

First and foremost, we recognize the growing importance of digital transformation. Our strategic focus is on expanding telemedicine capabilities, optimizing electronic health records, and implementing remote monitoring solutions. These technologies will enable us to reach patients in their homes and provide more personalized, convenient, and efficient care.

Moreover, we are dedicated to embracing value-based care models. We aim to foster a culture of care coordination, emphasizing patient outcomes and population health management. Through data analytics and predictive modeling, we will identify high-risk patients and allocate resources effectively to improve their health while managing costs.

Patient engagement remains a cornerstone of our strategy. We are investing in patient portals, mobile apps, and communication tools to empower individuals to take an active role in their health journey. Ensuring a seamless and positive patient experience is central to our approach.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a pivotal role in our future. We plan to integrate AI-driven solutions for early disease detection, predictive analytics, and decision support. This will not only enhance the diagnostic capabilities of our clinicians but also automate routine tasks, allowing our staff to focus on complex aspects of care.

As we transition into population health management, we recognize the importance of addressing social determinants of health. Our hospital will engage closely with the community, working on initiatives related to food security, housing, and mental health to improve the overall well-being of our population.

Financial sustainability is a paramount concern, and we are diligently working on optimizing our revenue cycle management, controlling costs, and exploring innovative payment models.

In conclusion, we are embarking on a transformative journey that prioritizes technological innovation, value-based care, patient engagement, and community well-being. By remaining agile, adaptive, and committed to these strategic steps, we aim to position our health system at the forefront of healthcare excellence over the next five years.

Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA. President of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston); Executive Vice President at Mass General Brigham (Boston): The pandemic has profoundly changed our lives, our economy, and has permanently changed health care. While this has led to significant challenges, it has presented us with a different perspective on how best we can serve our patient population and, despite the challenges we encounter in our work, we remain committed to transforming how care is delivered while improving access and lowering the cost of that care while improving quality of life for our patients. We know that a lot of our patients can benefit from care we provide on an out-patient basis, while our in-patient beds continue to care for higher acuity patients. One way in which we’re strategically addressing these healthcare trends is through our innovative Home Hospital program, which provides acute inpatient-level care in the home and helps to ensure improved quality outcomes and shorter length of stay for eligible patients. MGB is one of the earliest adopters of this form of health care, starting in 2016, and is now operating one of the largest home hospitals in the country and is poised for transforming the future of innovative health care. This type of thinking, that re-examines operations is critical for healthcare organizations over the next several years.

Stacy Brandt. Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer of Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital: As a leading academic health system in an ever-growing market, we recognize the need to continue to make access to our services more convenient and better coordinated. As such, we are prioritizing care coordination to not only ensure access to care but to take care of the entire patient journey, making it as smooth, easy, and as frictionless as possible for them based on their unique needs. In tandem, we are all in on the future of healthcare, particularly the hospital-at-home model. Moving forward and over the next five years, we will look beyond hospital-at-home toward other at-home models, such as infusion at home, dialysis at home, primary care at home, etc. An at-home model associated with our in-patient model makes for a safer and better environment for the patient, no matter their health care needs.

Manmeet S. Ahluwalia, MD. Deputy Director of the Fernandez Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and Chief of Medical Oncology, and Chief Scientific Officer of Miami Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health: There have been rapid changes in healthcare, with more expected in the future and to navigate these new realities our healthcare has continue to invest in its people (healthcare workers), patients we serve and harness the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). We are particularly interested in investing in AI to help mitigate the cost of care but more importantly, enhance the quality of care for patients. We believe AI will help decrease the workload for our healthcare workers and prevent burnout. We also have focused heavily on addressing the disparities in care to ensure the best quality care for our Hispanic patients.

Natasha Mumford. Controller of Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Dayton, The Rehabilitation Institute of Ohio (Dayton): In the ever-changing healthcare environment, staying abreast of new research and development is key to ensuring our organization remains equipped to manage the diverse needs of our patients. In order to provide the best care, innovation and continual process improvement must be the drivers of strategic planning.  

Expanding our bedside and telemedicine capabilities for any ancillary services and exploring alternative therapies for pain management are just two ways that we can enhance our patient experience.  Our hospital is heavily focused on early detection of worsening symptoms or social barriers that may impact a person post-discharge so we can better prepare patients for long-term positive outcomes.  People value their time, and we aim to be respectful of that without sacrificing quality.  Our case managers coordinate across disciplines to arrange family training, medical education, and transition planning around the patient's needs. Encompass Health encourages continuing education and employee development so our staff can be their best in their roles. 

The best way for any organization to adapt is to embrace a culture of learning and never lose sight of being patient-focused.

Dan Woods. CEO of El Camino Health (Mountain View, Cali.): El Camino Health is nationally recognized for excellence, our care is easy to access, we are close to home, and our doctors and nurses rank among the best in the world. The strategy of El Camino Health is simple – to be the hospital and healthcare partner of choice for families and providers in the communities we serve. 

Our strategic framework for the health system in the next five years will be similar to many other health systems.  What we see as the biggest challenge is the execution of the strategy. Related, and the biggest driver of our ability to execute will be our workforce. Over the past few years, we have asked so much of our staff. They have been required to withstand and recover from new and increasing obstacles.  

As leaders, we need to walk in the footsteps of our employees, and then provide tools to help them navigate the tradeoff decisions they make every day.  This includes many different factors: including hybrid work environments, and how to work with AI and machine learning to augment their bandwidth. It also means acknowledging that we as leadership must make tradeoff decisions – when we ask employees to take on a new task, we need to identify how we are removing tasks from their plate. If we are able to create an aligned and self-rewarding culture, that will act as an accelerant for El Camino Health’s to achieve our goals.

Jennifer Schneider, MD. Co-Founder and CEO of Homeward (San Francisco): While Homeward is not a hospital or health system, we support rural hospitals through our work as a value-based care provider and our value-based care enablement services. Rural communities are increasingly facing even more provider shortages and hospital closures over the course of the next five years, and I strongly believe the next era of healthcare will be largely centered around hybrid care delivery models, outcome-driven care and personalization.

At Homeward, we recognize the future of healthcare will never be completely devoid of touch or in-person care options. Therefore, we have implemented a unique, value-based hybrid care model to provide members in rural communities the option to receive personalized care plans in-person within their community or home, or virtually to best meet their needs and lifestyle. We are also keen on partnering with local health systems and providers within rural communities to help close gaps in care and maximize the valuable time of clinicians by reducing travel and administrative burden.

Copyright © 2023 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars