AMC chiefs: This is the next decade's toughest decision

The pandemic has forced academic medical centers to plan for the worst and hope for the best. AMC executives will need that mentality as they look forward to the next 10 years, which will bring seismic shifts in care delivery.

Academic medical center executives discussed what the future holds and more during a session titled, "The AMC executive playbook: How to approach tough decisions to thrive in the next decade." The session was part of the Becker's Healthcare Academic Medical Centers Virtual Forum. The panel included:

  • Ellen Zane, CEO Emeritus of Tufts Medical Center in Boston
  • William Peacock III, chief of operations at Cleveland Clinic
  • Daniel Simon, MD, chief clinical and scientific officer and president of UH Cleveland Medical Center 

Here is an excerpt from the conversation, lightly edited for clarity. To view the full session on demand, click here

Question: What are the toughest decisions AMCs will face in the next decade? 

Dr. Daniel Simon: Probably the biggest challenge in the next 10 years is the migration from volume to value and from inpatient to outpatient. We're going to face a really serious challenge in what we call overbedding, too many hospital beds in urban environments. The real challenge is going to be how do we regionalize and consolidate care, understanding that means we're not going to look the same 10 years from now as we do today. And consolidations are tough. Decreased inpatient capacity obviously has a big impact on communities. 

Ellen Zane: I want to mention an epiphany I had that helped me to understand how different the next 10 years are going to be. I sit on the board of Boston Scientific. About a year ago, we went to see their research and development facility for deep brain stimulation in neuromodulation in Valencia, Calif. When I saw what's in the pipeline and how it's going to change the way care is provided in this world, I was totally blown away and said to myself, no hospital CEO should build another building that looks like the buildings we have today, because within 10 years, the way we provide care is going to look very, very different.

Bill Peacock: We plan across a five-year timeline. No. 1 is staying true to who we are. Our founders were based on the principle of care for the sick, investigating their problems and educating those who serve. We believe that mission will stay consistent for the next five years and we want to stay true to it. We want to double the number of lives we care for. And especially during the pandemic, patients are looking for a partner that will be there for them across all episodes. Patients look to the hospitals for care and assistance in times of crisis. It doesn't matter if it's a pandemic or a social crisis, that's where they look. So tying in data, analytics, technology to enable that care transformation and allow us to care for patients across their lifetime — that's the type of decision-making that's leading our thinking.

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