So many challenges for healthcare execs, but some stand out more

The opioid crisis, adoption of telehealth and better use of data are just some of the issues uppermost in healthcare executives' minds, as well as the ever-present labor crisis and bringing innovation into everyday practices.

That's what Becker's found talking to almost 100 executives across the country and asking them what their priorities are for the next few years.

But a couple of issues stand out from their responses as arguably the keys to all-round success: optimal staff retention and collaboration, and real progress in health equity.

"The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us why it's so important for health systems to have a talented workforce that thrives and stays engaged with their crucial work for our patients year after year," said Daniel I. Simon, MD, chief scientific officer and president of academic and external affairs at University Hospitals in Cleveland. "The evidence is clear; caregiver engagement is an essential ingredient in high-quality outcomes."

Vaccine equity is a major focus for Downers Grove, Ill., and Milwaukee-based Advocate Aurora Health. A key to eventual success in that and multiple healthcare issues is true collaboration between front-line workers and the C-suite, said Christine Larson, RN, vice president of operations at the health system.

By targeting higher levels of engagement and participation from physician leaders to collaborate with administrative leadership, that will help "improve financial performance, population health index metrics, and patient experience," she said.

A key goal is health equity which, with improved collaboration, is attainable, said Johanna Vidal-Phelan, MD, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at UPMC. 

"I am a firm believer that healthcare should be non-discriminatory, and that to have meaningful and sustainable impact we need engagement in every aspect of our healthcare industry in order to eliminate health disparities," she told Becker's.

All goals combined can make a successful whole as long as the ultimate focus is on the patient, argued Paul Coyne, DNP, senior vice president and chief nurse executive at New York City-based Hospital for Special Surgery.

"The healthcare industry continues to become increasingly complex," he told Becker's. "In complexity, it is easy to lose our way. We must strengthen our focus on the only priority that is essential for healthcare: the patient. And the wonderful people who provide care to the patient." 

More details on all the executives' priorities can be found here.

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