Becker's 10th Annual Meeting Speaker Series: 3 Questions with Steven Long, Chief Executive Officer for Hancock Regional Hospital

Steven Long, MHA, MBA, ACHE, serves as Chief Executive Officer for Hancock Regional Hosptial.

On April 4th, Steven will speak at Becker's Hospital Review 10th Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place April 1-4, 2019 in Chicago.

To learn more about the conference and Steven's session, click here.

Question: What do innovators/entrepreneurs from outside healthcare need to better understand about hospital and health system leaders?

Steven Long: Peter Drucker has famously said that “healthcare is the most difficult, chaotic, and complex industry to manage today.” I think most healthcare leaders would agree wholeheartedly with this assessment. We have the fortune (or misfortunate) to be in an industry that is alternatively described as “a tapeworm on the American economy,” “a human right,” and “a system that has seen some of the greatest achievements of human intellect since we started recording history.” The way our services are paid is unlike any other in the world. The incentives within the industry are historically misaligned between various partners (hospitals, physicians, pharma, insurers, employers, government, etc.) Costs are rising dramatically especially for pharmaceuticals, technology, and physicians. We are simultaneously trying to keep the financial boat afloat by growing volume, while preparing for a future where more volume means disaster. At base, we are ordinary human beings, in a dreadfully complex situation, balancing competing priorities, and trying to make it all work out…

Q: What one strategic initiative will demand the most of your time and energy in 2019?

SL: Adapting our strategies and operations to the growing wave of consumerism and value based care initiatives. These include evolving our community and population health initiatives to a higher level, building low-cost access points for those covered by high deductible health plans, and reducing our cost structure in core hospital operations.

Q: Tell us about the last meaningful interaction you had with a patient.

SL: A colleague in our community was diagnosed five years ago with terminal cancer. As with many people these days, his terminal diagnosis played out as more of a chronic illness with occasional bouts of high acuity intervention over that five year period. He had a remarkably positive attitude over the entire time, was intensely active in the community, and was beloved by all. That said, he did express to me privately that he felt toward the end that he was “obligated to die” because he had outlived the initial diagnosis by so long. His condition really was terminal that whole time, but no one anticipated he would survive as long as he did (aided by miracles in immunotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted surgical interventions, etc.). He spent his last few days in hospice and I visited him often, contemplating each time whether there was a better approach for patients in this dilemma.

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