Healthcare's newest C-suite roles

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented C-suite titles. 

Health systems nationwide have created more than a dozen leadership roles this year. For some, the new jobs align with hot-button topics — signaling that the C-suite has a finger on the societal pulse. 

Take Sacramento, Calif.-based UC Davis Health, which named its first chief artificial intelligence adviser in June. Dennis Chornenky will oversee the health system's AI strategy to ensure it is safe and ethical as the industry continues to explore the tool's use. 

In a year ridden with fires and floods, Renton, Wash.-based Providence tapped its inaugural medical director of environmental stewardship this spring. Brian Chesebro, MD, an anesthesiologist, is tasked with facilitating care delivery to make it safer for the environment. The system aims to be carbon negative by 2030, a goal it appointed Dr. Chesebro to advance. 

And as healthcare grapples with the aftermath of COVID-19 — with some health systems moving to reinstate mask mandates — Mass General Brigham has appointed a resident specialist. Erica Shenoy, MD, PhD, is the Somerville, Mass.-based system's flagship chief of infection control. She previously served as its medical director for infection control, but was elevated to the expanded "chief" role in June. 

Sometimes, new C-suite roles are created in response to industry-specific challenges. McLaren Health Care in Grand Blanc, Mich., is devoting focus to an area of healthcare more systems are shifting away from. Brian Tesler, MD, was named the first chief medical director of women's health; he will oversee obstetrics, gynecology and neonatal care as more than 20 systems shutter similar services this year.

Other times, the new leader's focus is more local. Cleveland Clinic tapped its first chief community officer this year, appointing Vickie Eaton Johnson to lead relationships with community partners, healthcare professionals and government officials. Memphis, Tenn.-based St. Jude Children's named Catherine Corbin its inaugural chief business innovation officer to held implement its $12.9 billion strategic plan. Mercy, located in St. Louis, created six new executive roles to oversee individual specialty lines within its rapidly growing enterprise. 

One thing to watch as new roles rise: their longevity. Chief diversity officers were the fastest-growing C-suite role in 2022, but are now vacating the position. It is unclear if a chief AI officer will be a necessity in 10 years — yet for now, systems are leaning into the unknown. 

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