What excites 101 health system executives for the next year

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 101 executives featured in this article are all speaking at the Becker's Healthcare 14th Annual Meeting on April 8-11, 2024, at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.

To learn more about this event, click here.

If you would like to join as a reviewer, contact agendateam@beckershealthcare.com. We'll fully cover your registration fee! 

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: What is your most exciting challenge for 2024 and how are you approaching it?

Kevin Mahoney. CEO of University of Pennsylvania Health System (Philadelphia): One of the most exciting challenges in healthcare is the integration of technology to streamline care and improve experience. At Penn Medicine, we're focused on advancing efficiency from the clinic to facilities and across the spectrum. For example, we are looking closely at ways to reduce repetitive tasks in the clinical space, helping providers do more meaningful work and operate at the top of their licenses. In some cases, we're learning how to use existing software better; in other cases, we're developing our own programs or automating processes; and in all instances, we're partnering with staff to make these important changes. With these steps, we're positioning the institution for the future as the most clinician-friendly place to work in healthcare.

Peter D. Banko. Region President of CommonSpirit Health (Chicago): My most exciting challenge is to make my work – and the work of those around me – fun again. A 2023 Gallup survey reported 60% of people are emotionally detached at work, over half are actively or passively job seeking, and 19% describe their work as “miserable." That is why they call it work.

Work can become unpleasant, boring, arduous, annoying, and even miserable. We seek out work that fits our natural abilities and the things we do best. Our work gets rewarded for the skills we have keenly sharpened. That, then, gets us caught in the upward pull for bigger, better, and more.

Healthcare is a calling and working in healthcare is a gift that is offered in service to others. I am ringing in 2024 with a reinvigorated sense of meaning in my work. With positivity, gratitude, and learning. Connecting with my co-workers to help them see their own bigger picture and find their own greater purpose again.

J.P. Gallagher. President and CEO of Endeavor Health (Evanston, Ill.): I'm incredibly excited about the opportunity to establish our new system identity – Endeavor Health – as a national model for what a vibrant community-connected health system looks like and the impact we will have collectively across the Chicagoland region. Working with our physicians, nurses, researchers and team members we are implementing value based care delivery models, improving health equity and establishing ourselves as a destination employer of choice that will benefit the communities we serve for many years to come.

Amy Perry. President of Banner Health (Phoenix): I'd have to say the potential impact of emerging technologies. Banner Health is making strategic investments this year in data, analytics and automation to transform clinical care and provide innovative digital tools that improve consumers' health care interactions. Coupled with Banner's care and coverage model – which combines our growing suite of health plans with our broad, integrated care network – these tools will give us the opportunity to further support the health and wellness of the communities we serve. 

Cliff A. Megerian, MD. CEO and Jane and Henry Meyer CEO Distinguished Chair of University Hospitals (Cleveland): Last year, we implemented an entirely new nervous system for our health system – the electronic medical record Epic – that we believe will be a game changer for how we improve the patient and caregiver experience. Because it is the single largest investment we have ever made as a health system, in 2024 we are excited about leveraging all the bells and whistles Epic has to offer. 

For example, we will utilize MyChart and MyChart Bedside (inpatient environment) to enhance patient access, education, caregiver communication, billing and the sharing of clinical information. Epic will also help us drive operational performance through enhanced analytics and dashboards and the plethora of time-saving features will no doubt enhance caregiver satisfaction.

We are also energized about exploring the potential opportunities AI presents for efficiency gains. For example, we are exploring the use of generative AI to identify, evaluate, and prioritize highest-value problems that are worth solving within the UH system. We started this with our University Hospitals Ventures team and will next explore utilizing it as part of our Veale Initiative for Healthcare Innovation that was previously detailed in a Becker's article

We are also looking into whether AI will be a beneficial tool as we roll out new models of care, or whether it can be leveraged to enhance our current software or video capabilities. We have already successfully integrated AI into our IVR system that correctly routes patients who contact our call center. In fact, we recently tracked 2.4 million calls that went through an initial AI pre-screening and found 81% went to the right person for handling and the other 19% were able to self-serve/schedule using the AI tool's assistance.

Greg Poulsen. Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer of Intermountain Healthcare (Salt Lake City): At Intermountain, we are focusing on two key areas: enhancing the percentage of our care that is prepaid, and finding ways to simplify all that we do. While these may seem to be independent ideas, they are actually quite interconnected. Prepayment (which is really value-based payment) allows us to focus on doing what is right for the people we serve. It may be helping them to live a more healthy lifestyle, or helping to reduce risk factors, or intervening early in a disease to mitigate harm (and expense), or it may be a full-on battle against a terrible disease or injury. 

Prepayment gives us the freedom to meet people wherever they are on their health journey, and assist them to live the healthiest lives possible. And this both allows us to simplify our processes (since the complex requirements for revenue enhancement can take a back seat), and rewards us for simplification. Many of the complexities of the health system are built around the payment system: complexities to get paid (on the provider side), and complexities to prevent overutilization (on the payer side). We look forward to gradual progression to a future with greater patient focus and fewer distractions.

Joon S. Lee, MD. CEO of Emory Healthcare (Atlanta): The most exciting challenge for Emory Healthcare for 2024 is the need to accelerate our transformation to thrive in the permanently changed healthcare landscape in the country and state of Georgia. Although we, like many other leading health systems, have made tremendous strides in workforce turnover, recruitment, pipeline, and contract labor, the cost of labor as a relative portion of overall expenses has permanently increased. And the gains remain quite fragile with a clinical workforce that feels stressed and stretched. So we will double down in our investment in our patient-facing workforce, in terms of pay and working conditions. 

In addition, we are focused on leveraging technology that, of course, must deliver better clinical outcomes and improved patient experience, but also must increase the overall efficiency (compensating for increased overall labor costs) and must improve the working condition of the clinical workforce. This last component, an overt emphasis on the impact of technology on daily workflow and the administrative burden of individual frontline workers, has not been emphasized nearly enough in the past. Hence, we are investing in more comprehensive and "passive" technology such as ambient listening solutions (e.g., Abridge), and not limiting it to just physicians, but exposing it to a broad spectrum of our workforce, especially the nurses. 

As leaders, we must embrace these permanent changes in healthcare and aggressively apply technology solutions to create a thriving health system.

Cristy Page, MD. Executive Dean of UNC School of Medicine and Chief Academic Officer of UNC Health Care (Chapel Hill, N.C.): We know that we must think and act differently to meet the needs of our patients. We spent much of the last year discussing ways to increase access and improve our patients' experiences within our health system. As we enter 2024, we will begin putting those plans into action. While this is an exciting opportunity, we know that our teammates are still exhausted from the last several years and very nervous about change. With that in mind, our priority is to engage teammates in the process so that they feel ownership over these changes and clearly understand how they will benefit our patients and everyone we work with.

Ketul Patel. CEO of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health; President of Northwest Division at CommonSpirit Health (Chicago): Our primary challenge is always to find ways to better serve our communities. In 2024 we will continue to innovate to create better access for our patients, but what I'm most excited about is the work we are doing to develop our leaders and nurture our culture across the system. That work is essential for reducing burnout, increasing retention, and positioning our organization as an employer of choice in our region. Our people are our most precious resource so we are very focused on being transparent, giving them tools to learn and grow in their careers and finding ways to improve work-life balance.

Wendy Fielding. Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinics (Hanover, N.H.): My most exciting challenge for 2024 will be sustaining Dartmouth Health's positive results from the successful financial turn-around plan that we implemented in 2023. As CFO of Dartmouth Hitchcock, the academic medical center and flagship hospital of the system, it's been my pleasure to report the sizable improvements we've made year over year. 

A large part of our lift was driven by improving patient access to our services – by retaining and recruiting superb clinical and non-clinical employees to help grow our capacity, by spreading scheduling best practices across the organization (including block scheduling for surgical procedures), and by adding many new patient rooms in our newly opened in-patient pavilion. We will continue to focus on access in 2024, working to make it easier for our patients to get the world-class services they need, in a timely fashion, with the best possible care experience and outcomes.

David Verinder, MBA. President and CEO of Sarasota (Fla.) Memorial Health Care System: We are looking forward to completing master plans this year for two medical campuses in North Port (FL), one of the fastest growing cities in America. Plans include a new, acute-care hospital, freestanding ER and additional medical facilities that will improve access and extend SMH's 5-star care to the southwest Florida region. We plan to break ground on these exciting projects in 2025, the same year our public health system celebrates our centennial and century of service to our community.

Craig Kent, MD. CEO of UVA Health; Executive Vice President of Health Affairs at University of Virginia (Charlottesville): At UVA Health, we are excited about providing exceptional patient care as we grow our footprint across the Commonwealth of Virginia and invest in innovative solutions to reach populations most in need. We have a track record of leaning into challenges, and in 2024 we are capitalizing on our recent expansion efforts in northern and eastern Virginia, recruiting and retaining our talented workforce despite industry headwinds, and expanding our clinical excellence. 

On the research front, we are excited to carry forward the past year's momentum in research funding and philanthropic efforts, to develop our statewide clinical trials network, and to build the UVA Paul and Diane Manning Institute of Biotechnology, which will accelerate the development and testing of revolutionary treatments and cures. 

Finally, we are excited about the continual challenge of building school of medicine and school of nursing programs that prepare the next generation of the healthcare workforce. This puts us in a strong position to respond to opportunities and become one of the nation's preeminent public academic health systems in 2024 and beyond.

Shireen Ahmad. System Director of Operations and Finance at CommonSpirit Health (Chicago): CommonSpirit Health is a large and complex system and we strive to stay on top of emerging technologies. One challenge we have is addressing the complexity of disaggregated systems across multiple back office functions. An exciting approach we are testing is the application of AI to integrate and synthesize data for analysis and auditing. 

The initial test pilots have been designed and limited in scope. The initial reviews seem positive but will require more testing. We are keeping an eye on the end goal which is normalizing data and standardizing reporting across areas where we had been challenged in the past to help us make huge strides forward in understanding opportunities across the system.

Bill Morice, MD, PhD. President and CEO of Mayo Clinic Laboratories (Rochester, Minn.): At Mayo Clinic Laboratories, the most exciting challenge we are embracing is the need for expanded and equitable access to both diagnostic services and the knowledge needed to use them to provide the best care for patients and the best support for providers. We are involved on multiple fronts to address this important issue, including engaging in government policy changes such as addressing reimbursement, deepening our relationships with other health systems to understand the needs of the communities they serve, and investing in innovative digital business models that are inherently scalable and enable knowledge diffusion.

Robert J. Corona, DO, MBA, FACP. CEO of Upstate University and Community Hospitals (Syracuse, N.Y.): Since all hospitals and health systems are essentially dealing with the same problems of staffing shortages, high labor and supply costs, reimbursement issues, etc., we need to focus on the disruptive models of care delivery. We have opened remote multispecialty clinics, satellite cancer centers, and 200,000 square-foot Wellness Institute, a continuity of care clinic bridging emergency care to primary care, a hospital at home programs with 20 patient capacity, mobile medicine vehicles, more robust telemedicine services and several retail pharmacies to meet patients where they are. 

We have invested heavily in drone transportation, hospital robot supply services, artificial intelligence technologies and digital imaging technologies. We can't afford to rely on the old academic medical center models anymore. We must embrace the disruptive care models to thrive.

Beth Walker. CEO of Ochsner Baptist (New Orleans): Like many leaders, I am starting the year by focusing on communicating and driving strategy to accomplish our goals. In order to do so, I am excited about evolving my leadership and communication to focus on two things: specificity and intentionality. It's not enough to simply state an aspirational goal; we need to be specific in the actions and the path to get there. 

The more specific we can get, the more autonomy we can provide to others as we are clear on the ask and the path forward, framing what success looks like. I feel similarly when it comes to intentional actions. It's relatively easy to create a goal – but it takes discipline to outline the intentional changes and activities that we commit to in order to accomplish great things. I hope focusing more on specificity and intentionality will not only engage and empower my team, but make me a strong leader along the way.

Allison L. Viramontes. CFO of Mayo Clinic - Arizona (Phoenix): At Mayo Clinic the innovation of patient care and healthcare transformation are constant goals. In 2024, a key priority is to lay the groundwork for Discovery Oasis, a biotechnology innovation hub we're developing adjacent to our Phoenix campus. Our vision for this open desert canvas is to bring together a mix of established and early-stage companies that will work with us to bring new solutions in medicine — faster. 

Arizona State University, a proven innovator, is the first collaborator at Discovery Oasis and we are exploring other opportunities in pharma, med tech, biotherapeutics and next-gen diagnostics now. We have a unique opportunity through these partnerships – to identify partners who share our values, will deliver valuable synergies within this ecosystem, and to ensure that we, too, are a good partner delivering on the vision of transforming healthcare. Those who want to learn more can visit our website, www.discoveryoasis.com.

Chanda Chacon. President and CEO of Children's Nebraska (Omaha): We have an amazing opportunity at Children's Nebraska to shape an innovative care model that focuses on the whole child with our heightened attention on mental and behavioral health. We are creating a statewide approach to ensure we can provide comprehensive care at all acuity levels for the long-term well-being of the children and adolescents we serve.

Joseph Webb. CEO of Nashville (Tenn.) General Hospital: As CEO of Nashville General Hospital I have the unique privilege of leading a process that will ultimately result in the building of a new state-of-the-art teaching hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. What makes this endeavor most exciting is Nashville's status as the healthcare capital of the nation. Paradoxically, healthcare from a national perspective has substantial opportunities for improvement. Healthcare outcomes in the United States ranks poorly when compared to other industrialized countries. Statistics show that these adverse outcomes tend to disproportionately affect people of color and marginalized populations.

As the city's public hospital, NGH currently engages in evidence-based healthcare delivery and will have the opportunity to expand and highlight a progressive model of caring for a population of patients without pursuing a distinction of socioeconomic status. Health equity is critical to any society. Leading a team of participants in the design and build of a tertiary-level hospital, focused on maximizing healthcare outcomes across the socioeconomic strata, should generate a high level of excitement for the entire city.

Don Antonucci. President and CEO of Providence Health Plan (Portland, Ore.): Our vision to provide high-quality healthcare that meets the unique needs of all members remains steadfast as we begin 2024. Our challenge is to ensure that member experience truly lives up to our promise of "know me, care for me, ease my way."

Through our healthcare experience and equity division we're reimagining the member onboarding process and evaluating each touchpoint to create an approach, guided by principles of cultural competency, that meets members where they are. Our ultimate goal is to foster an environment that serves and empowers all members by providing culturally competent care and support through their healthcare journey.

Marc Gorelick, MD. President and CEO of Children's Minnesota (Minneapolis): This year marks the 100th anniversary of Children's Minnesota — a great time to honor our legacy and the many challenges we've overcome, and to look to the future: how will we continue to evolve so we can achieve our vision of being every family's partner in raising healthier children? It just so happens that in 2024, we start work on a new strategic plan. Creating that blueprint for the next few years will be one of our most exciting challenges in 2024, even in the face of so much uncertainty in healthcare. 

Seeing how much Children's Minnesota has evolved in the past century assures me we have the talent, skill and inspiration necessary to continue to help children thrive well into the future. 

David Goldberg. President, CEO and Executive Vice President of Mon Health System at Vandalia Health (Charleston, W.Va.): 2024 is starting off with gusto. Seasonality, federal and state legislative priorities, broader budget impacts coming into reality from pre-COVID times and day-to-day community need for healthcare support are some focus areas at present. Growing AI and technology opportunities are intriguing, and worth focus now more than ever. Also, focused time on our people and their health and well-being is a top focus area for if our people do not feel supported care delivery is impacted. 

Diane Hansen. President and CEO of Palomar Health (Escondido, Calif.): As the CEO for Palomar Health, my most exciting challenge for 2024 revolves around revitalizing our workforce engagement. As California's largest healthcare district, we are dedicated to guiding our team to rediscover the profound significance of their roles and reigniting their commitment to our shared purpose. To achieve this, we are implementing a comprehensive coaching program aimed at enhancing the overall health and well-being of our team, addressing aspects such as sleep quality, dietary habits and mental wellness. By prioritizing the holistic well-being of our staff, we are confident that we create an environment where our team can thrive, ultimately translating into an extraordinary patient experience and optimal outcomes.

Elizabeth Wako, MD, MBA. President and CEO of Swedish Health Services (Seattle): There is just no way our country can address the demand for care — now and in the future — in the same ways we historically have. To address the challenges of the workforce shortage we are taking a deeper look at the way we work. At Providence Swedish, our co-caring pilot program (a virtual nursing program) is just one way we are exploring innovative ways of working and addressing our nurse staffing needs. This new model leverages technology to allow a virtual nurse to care for patients and support the bedside team through a bi-directional audio/video platform.

Steve Davis, MD. President and CEO of Cincinnati Children's: One of the most exciting opportunities for 2024 involves harnessing rapidly advancing technologies to elevate all aspects of the care delivery (quality, safety, experience and value). One of the challenges is that the advances are coming fast and often aren't yet validated. AMCs are appropriately hesitant to explore new innovations outside of the usual paradigms, often delaying beneficial impact. 

Cincinnati Children's is working more closely than ever with industry partners to help vet new technologies, companies and opportunities. These partnerships will allow us greater awareness of potential opportunities and help expedite testing and improvement innovations. NEJM has started an online journal looking at the impact of AI in healthcare, which should help hospital leaders to take a thoughtful approach to the use of AI for patient care. 

While most AI is currently being used as a decision support tool, the day will be here soon when we routinely use AI to make diagnoses. While this may be frightening to some, AI has already been shown to outperform humans in some areas. AMCs need to lead the way on how to safely implement these advances into daily practice to ultimately improve patient care outcomes. 

Mark Behl. President and CEO of NorthBay Health (Fairfield, Calif.): As an independent, regional healthcare system, the most exciting challenge for 2024 will be balancing our growth strategies with the need to sustain our financial performance improvements achieved over the past year. Today's healthcare model is rapidly evolving and the pressures in our market will likely increase. We must find ways to transform from a traditional hospital system to an integrated delivery network that is driving more value to employers, payers, and consumers of our services - both health and healthcare. 

The exciting part is the idea of becoming an organization that is no longer following the old playbook, but rather, establishing an entirely new one. There are not many businesses that succeed by just doing the same thing year after year. The successful transformations from old to new require major change, which means placing bets and taking risk. We just want to make sure that we do so with calculation, diligence, and precision execution.

Megan Gillespie, DNP, MBA, RN. CEO and President of Sutter Santa Rosa Hospital (Calif.): The most exciting challenge I see ahead for us in 2024 includes empowering our teams to elevate care delivery to our communities as one system. We are focusing on intentionally collaborating across our acute care and ambulatory centers. Alignment across the continuum will enhance synergy to better care for our communities. Recruitment and retention of top talent will remain a focus to strengthen our culture of excellence to drive health and improve well-being.

Lynne Fiscus, MD, MPH. President and CEO of UNC Physicians Network (Durham, N.C.): Quickly and effectively scaling AI solutions to reduce administrative burden for our clinical teams. We have been in pilot stage in the last half of 2023 both to aid in medical advice requests as well as visit documentation and will be scaling in 2024. Our primary care teams in particular are excited for the new CMS code that recognizes and rewards continuity of care for a patient and a clinician over time and we are hopeful commercial payers will follow suit. Our managed care team continues to advocate with our commercial payers to reduce administrative burden for our care teams and fairly compensate for the high value care we provide.

Stephen DelRossi, MSA. Interim CEO and CFO of Northern Inyo Healthcare District (Bishop, Calif.): Revenue cycle improvement is the most important area that NIHD is looking to improve. With cash collections at 87% of net patient revenue and a denial rate approaching 5%, correcting these two items will move the hospital to a positive position. We are also expanding services and service lines to generate more revenue. Over the last five months, we have increased net patient revenue by more than 14%, while decreasing costs by approximately 8%; in the same time frame, we have moved the hospital from being in the red to being in the black.

David Rahija. President of Endeavor Medical Group Operations (Evanston, Ill.): Endeavor Health is working to reimagine what care in an integrated system of care can look like for our patients. We are designing our care models across the horizontal continuum of care, and not in vertically integrated silos that are common in U.S. healthcare. This will produce safe, seamless and personal care for our patients and communities. It is exciting to work on an operating model to execute this ambitious vision.

Patrick Frias, MD. President and CEO of Rady Children's Hospital and Health Center (San Diego): I'm most excited about an agreement we announced jointly with Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) in December that would merge our parent companies to create a new, advanced pediatric healthcare system. By coming together, our goals are to improve children's health in our communities, retain and attract top talent, and train the next generation of pediatric physicians and healthcare workers. 

We also see this as an opportunity to conduct research together across a broader pediatric population, attracting more researchers and funding, increasing clinical trials, and advancing translational research, leading to improved treatments and outcomes for children. The last few years have been exceptionally challenging in pediatric healthcare and underscores the need to collaborate with trusted partners like CHOC. It's exciting to think about the positive impact the proposed merger will have on our patients and their families, our communities, and our team members.

Pooja P. Vyas, DO. Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Christian Hospital Northeast & Northwest Healthcare (St. Louis): Current trends in healthcare are pushing us to embrace technology. I'm excited to see how artificial intelligence will influence the way we process the delivery of care at our hospital. There are multiple metrics we try to improve at the hospital, from readmissions, length of stay, patient satisfaction and safety. It will be challenging to see how AI will help and or hinder the improvement. 

Furthermore, I'm excited about our hospital's journey in growth and outreach. We are working very closely with case management and community health on how we can improve the patient's experience after they leave our hospital. I look forward to connecting with the community, and creating innovative programs that assist our patients and their families. Our hospital and leadership team believe that our influence doesn't end when the patient is discharged, and we can really help impact the care and resources in the community. 

Stephen Hoang, MD. Medication Safety Officer and Pediatric Anesthesiologist of Children's Health System of Texas (Dallas): Our multidisciplinary medication safety team's top priority is to reduce the number of medication errors that reach the patient. Errors are bound to occur, but if we can prevent them from reaching the patient, we can prevent patient harm. One strategy to do this is by using natural process and constraint process designs that make it hard to do the wrong thing and make it easier to do the right thing. 

Another strategy is to encourage good catches by all team members at every step of the medication-use process. Given that medication errors can account for a significant portion of adverse events in any hospital system, this is our team's most exciting challenge for 2024.

Todd Karpinski, PharmD. System Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer of WVU Medicine (Morgantown, W.Va.): From my perspective as the chief pharmacy officer at WVU Medicine, my most exciting challenge is to continue to integrate with our new insurance offering, Peak Health, in an effort to reduce medication costs, improve quality, and improve access to care. We have recruited a dedicated team of pharmacists and analysts at Peak Health to help in these efforts for our employees, dependents, and, starting January 1, a Medicare population. The pharmacy leadership team will continue its partnership efforts with Peak Health to make this successful for our patients and our health system.

Scott Nygaard, MD. Chief Operating Officer of Lee Health (Ft. Myers/Cape Coral, Fla.): The most exciting challenge for FY24 is to stand up a hospital-at-home program, to help offload capacity from our facilities to reduce capital spending for conditions that can be safely treated at home. This also reduces the risk of nosocomial infections resulting from hospitalization. 

While others have stood up programs, we recognize this is a change in mindset for both patients and our clinicians in how we deliver care, maintaining our commitment to safety and quality of care. It also requires a lot of understanding of the process and application of technology to support care in the home, so a lot of change management is needed to be successful.

Jami Salzberg. Senior Director of Surgery, Quality and Informatics at Carilion Clinic (Roanoke, Va.): We are looking towards improving efficiencies and increasing surgical case volumes. We just got our presurgical home off the ground and hope to have a significant impact on decreased complications, and decreased length of stay due to increased patient optimization prior to surgery. We achieved the ACS QVP certification for Focused and plan to attain Comprehensive in 2024. 

Deana Sievert, DNP, RN. Chief Nursing Officer of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (Columbus): As we closed out 2023, we had seen many RNs come back to the healthcare market. So our most exciting challenge this year will be working closely with them to identify ways to help them grow professionally, meeting their development needs and ensuring that we are their choice employer for the long haul. I envision some of the specific challenges we will work with our nursing teams on to incorporate even more efficiencies that allow them to continue to push to the top of licensure work. For example, some things I see us drilling down on is the deployment of a stronger patient sitter technology that utilizes AI, and virtual nursing options, and a personal goal is to overhaul our shared governance model to improve engagement and involvement in practice.

Sunil Dadlani. Chief Cyber Security Officer and Chief Information and Transformation Officer of Atlantic Health System (Morristown, N.J.): As the chief information and digital officer and chief information security officer for a healthcare system, our most exciting challenge for 2024 revolves around the integration of advanced digital health technologies like AI, IoT, and big data analytics, while simultaneously ensuring robust cybersecurity and compliance with health data regulations. This task demands a delicate balance between innovation and security, with a paramount focus on maintaining patient trust in an evolving cyber threat landscape.

Nilesh Desai. Chief Pharmacy Officer of Baptist Health (Louisville, Ky.): The most exciting challenge for 2024 is getting our central pharmacy services center building opened that will offer enhanced services for specialty pharmacy, inventory distribution, medication reconciliation, and other wide array of pharmacy services. The impact of drug and staffing shortages continues to pose a challenge and we are consistently reinventing ourselves to mitigate these shortages. The growth in our pharmacy program across the enterprise keeps us challenged with innovation and serving our community in a safe and efficient way.

Ebrahim Barkoudah, MD. System Chief and Regional Chief Medical Officer of Baystate Health (Springfield, Mass.): The most exciting challenge for healthcare in 2024 is optimizing clinical operations and improving the quality of care delivery through a value-based care approach. This approach shifts the focus from volume to value, emphasizing patient outcomes over the number of services provided. This shift presents a dual challenge: first, to integrate this approach into the current healthcare system, and second, to leverage technology and data analytics to support decision-making, measure outcomes, and drive improvements.

  • Integrating value-based care: To integrate value-based care into our systems, we focus on aligning incentives across all providers, encouraging collaboration, and prioritizing patient-centered care. We are also working to educate both providers and patients about the benefits of this approach, underlining its potential to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.
  • Leveraging technology and data analytics: We are investing in advanced health IT systems capable of aggregating and analyzing large volumes of data. This will enable us to track and measure outcomes accurately, identify areas for improvement, and make evidence-based decisions. AI/ML tools are being explored to predict patient outcomes, personalize care plans, and optimize resource allocation.
  • Quality improvement initiatives: Alongside this, we are implementing quality improvement initiatives through planning changes, implementing them on a small scale, studying the results, and then adjusting the plan based on what has been learned.
  • Patient engagement: Patient engagement is also a critical part of our approach. We are developing strategies to involve patients more closely in their care, such as through shared decision-making, patient education programs, and digital health tools.

The goal is to create an efficient, effective healthcare system that delivers high-quality patient care in 2024.

Scottie B. Day, MD. Chair of UK Department of Pediatrics and Physician in Chief at Kentucky Children's Hospital (Lexington): We are most excited about the expansion of our mental health services to be a part of an overall comprehensive health plan. Too often, individuals separate mental health from other health but in reality the interaction is seamless. In the coming year, we want every practice to have full access to mental health from social work to psychologists. It's important for us to address the demand as well as understand the best way to triage referrals. 

In addition, we are excited to further enhance our faculty development and mentoring program. Our strength is in our teams and people. We have to be well to be able to take care of our patients and families. These initiatives excited me for our future. 

Kristin Wolkart, RN. Executive Vice President and System Chief Nursing Officer and Operational Integrity at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (East Baton Rouge Parish, La.): This calendar year I believe our most exciting challenge will be articulating and integrating the Triple Aim into everything we do as a ministry. The three areas of our Triple Aim focus are improving quality outcomes, improving the patient experience, and reducing the total cost of care. 

My goal is to ensure that every team member connects with the Triple Aim and understands that what they do at work impacts one or more of these benchmarks of excellence. If FMOLHS can truly focus everything we do and every interaction on the Triple Aim, we will have made a significant positive impact on healthcare in our region.

Eric Tichy. Division Chair, Pharmacy Supply Chain of Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.): The End Drug Shortage Alliance is optimistic about the opportunity to advance meaningful policy changes that will reduce the burden of drug shortages in the US. We are communicating with legislators and collaborating across the supply chain with providers, suppliers, distributors, group purchasing organizations and patient advocacy groups to advance tactics that will make a positive difference. It is important to act in the first half of 2024 because legislative activity will grind to a halt once the election season kicks off in the summer.

Robin Tice, BSN, RN. Chief Nursing Officer of Eastland Memorial Hospital (Texas): My most exciting challenge for 2024 is to be fiscally responsible. Working with staff to ensure documentation and charges are correct has always been a challenge. Nurse administration and I will be focusing on education of proper documentation and always ensuring that our patients are provided with a safe quality experience every time they step into Eastland Memorial Hospital.

Rebekah Compton, MBA, DNP. Chief Clinical Officer of The University of Virginia (Charlottesville): My most exciting challenge is growing our team. At the end of 2023, we implemented a new compensation model to help attract more physicians and APPs to join our team. We have also been working on an improved onboarding process to ensure our providers are supported as they join our team. I look forward to supporting new growth and expanding access for our communities!

Keith Mueller, PhD. Director, Rural Policy Research Institute, Health Management Policy Department of University of Iowa (Iowa City): My most exciting challenge is actually twofold. First, the work of the Rural Health Value team of which I am a part is to help rural healthcare organizations adapt to changes in health care delivery and finance that promote value-based care. We must find ways small-scale organizations can implement changes developed in the context of large scale. Our work of the last 12 years has helped HCOs realize new possibilities. 

The second challenge is to help design policies and organization actions that are sensitive to rural realities of scale, population characteristics, and economies. As a nonpartisan policy analyst active in the Rural Policy Research Institute for the past 30 years, I have seen the value of bringing objective, nonpartisan analysis and recommendations into the policy process, to make a difference in sustaining rural health services. 

Chad M. Teven, MD. Reconstructive Microsurgeon and Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (Chicago): The healthcare landscape is dynamic and will continue to evolve fluidly. Many challenges are likely to persist or emerge in 2024. One of our most exciting challenges in the coming year is a focus on improving health inequality and access. To do this, we must make concerted efforts, including dedicating significant resources and capabilities that will improve and ensure equitable access to healthcare services, treatments, and vaccines across patient populations that vary with respect to demographic background, socio-economic status, geographic location, ability to access appropriate and necessary care, and more.

Ria Paul, MD. Clinical Associate Professor and Chief Medical Officer of Stanford Health Care Alliance; Executive Medical Director of Value Based Care Program, and Associate Chief Quality Officer of Population Health and Ambulatory Quality at Stanford University School of Medicine (Calif.): The most exciting challenge for 2024 is how to provide improved access to care for our patient population and avoid unnecessary ER visits and hospitalizations. As access is impacted not only in primary care but several specialties, focusing on innovative ways to stay connected with patients. 

Utilizing the extended care team, and addressing patients' needs. The strategy is different for patients depending on their risk stratification, for low-risk patients focus on preventative screenings to ensure good health, for high risk more wrap-around services and increased line of sight on care continuum. Also, at the same time ensure that patients can access urgent care services when they need to do so. Care can be in person, virtual, 1:1 or group visits which will help expand the availability of care for patients

Brian Uridge. Deputy Director of Public Safety and Security at University of Michigan (Ann Arbor); Director of Security, Michigan Medicine at University of Michigan Health System: Our most exciting challenge for 2024 is a violence reduction initiative in the health system focused on reducing both the risk and anxiety of our patients, staff and visitors. We refer to it as Concentric Rings of Security. Each ring serves as an equally important safety prevention layer of defense within the Concentric Rings of Security. The outermost ring provides an opportunity to evaluate and plan for potential safety risks before reaching the perimeter of the institution. 

As one progresses through each ring, the tools identified below offer a sort of "Swiss cheese" approach. If a potential security concern advances through the first ring/bearer, the consecutive rings create additional safety layers/barriers designed to prevent and/or reduce chances for harm to workforce, patients and visitors.

The rings include preparedness, engagement and training, external perimeter cameras with analytics, visitor management, mobile duress alarms, armed law enforcement, K-9s and metal detectors.

Daniel I. Simon, MD. President of Academic & External Affairs; Chief Scientific Officer; Ernie and Patti Novak Distinguished Chair in Health Care Leadership at University Hospitals Cleveland: At University Hospitals, we are driven to be a next-generation academic health system dedicated to accelerating discovery, innovation, and translation of scientific breakthroughs that address unmet clinical needs and enhance the lives of our patients, our community, and the world. That vision becomes a reality with each new idea and discovery. 

In 2024, we are particularly excited to launch the Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre Therapeutics Accelerator, a first-in-kind, transatlantic initiative to identify, fund and advance breakthrough academic discoveries to deliver new treatments for the 400 million people worldwide who suffer from rare diseases. The Therapeutics Accelerator will identify, fund and advance innovative projects from academic partners in the U.K. and U.S. with the goal to deliver 40 new potentially life-changing therapies for rare diseases into clinical trials over the next 10 years, targeting multiple approvals in key markets. 

The Accelerator will receive support from a new partnership between University Hospitals, University of Oxford and investment company Oxford Science Enterprises.

Susmita Pati. Chief of Primary Care Pediatrics and Chief Medical Program Advisor of The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University (N.Y.): My most exciting challenge for 2024 is finding ways to leverage our university's philanthropic gift ($500 million in unrestricted funds from the Simons Foundation) to garner further support to recruit and retain an exceptional healthcare workforce and promote health equity. I am working closely with colleagues from diverse departments, schools, and centers across our university to approach this challenge. We expect that leveraging the strengths of our interprofessional team will meet this challenge.

Adele Webb, PhD, RN. Executive Dean of Healthcare Initiatives at Capella University (Minneapolis): 2024 brings multiple challenges to healthcare. This year I intend to spend time exploring more closely how artificial intelligence can improve health outcomes and reduce caregiver burden.

Harlan Levine, MD. President of Health Innovation and Policy at City of Hope (Duarte, Calif.): In the coming year, we can expect to see significant policy discussions continue around value and access in healthcare. From a cancer perspective, I believe our most exciting challenge is to create a shift in the national value-based oncology narrative, from prioritizing expense reduction only, to embracing the complexity of cancer care and innovation and defining "value" as equitable and optimized outcomes for as many cancer patients as possible. 

The speed of discovery, drug development and evolving practices requires unique solutions and, increasingly, sub-specialized expertise. The recent push toward narrow networks and insurance products that disincentivize access is contributing to the significant disparities in cancer care outcomes. 

We need to modernize our definition of network adequacy and encourage alignments that establish tight partnerships between community oncologists and academic medical centers, so patients can seamlessly receive the care they require in the right place at the right time. Through collaborative partnerships and policy reform, we can ensure every patient has equitable access to the latest innovations, including clinical trials, precision medicine, genomic technologies and supportive care. The result will be more lives saved, better quality of life for patients, and a healthier future for all.

Annie Thomas-Landrum, MSN, RN. Board of Directors of Sunshine Community Health Center (Talkeetna, Alaska): I don't think a day has gone by in the last month that I have not pondered this. And strangely enough, I keep thinking of a time 100 years past, and the people who lived those days. Between 1914 and 1945, the world saw two world wars, a pandemic, widespread connection to electric grids, urban water and sewer, and telephone lines in the US, and the Great Depression. Wild, isn't it? Pandemic, worldwide political unrest and widespread war, economic depression, and huge advances in technologies that connected humanity to each other both more closely and more remotely, changing the ways we work and live forever. There is an undeniably striking familiarity in this collection of transitional events. 

As a healthcare community, we are entrusted with helping to guide, shape, and mold what healthcare provision will look like in the age of AI, widespread telehealth, increasingly deep philosophical divides regarding how we pursue health, research, innovation and community health awareness, the changing the availability, attitudes, needs, and expectations within our workforces, and so much more. And to me, these challenges taken together, seen as a huge and important transition in the history of healthcare and humanity, is the mountain I feel the most excited to assault, in 2024 and most likely for the next couple of decades. 

To pursue a mindset geared for thriving in the midst of uncontrollable change, I have chosen a very careful throughline to guide my decisions: Stability sustained through determined equanimity that fuels, empowers, and sustains momentum. Equanimity is the big idea there: "Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation" (Oxford Languages definition). 

In other words, deciding to spend my energy, not in yelling at the mountain in my way, but instead accepting that it stands as it is, regardless of my thoughts and feelings about its existence, and investing the energy I have in finding the way forward, mountain factored in. 

It isn't glamorous, this "let's get on with it then" attitude. But I think it is what the dreams we dream for our communities and our vision of the healthcare world to come will require. This future we are creating is given flesh and bone in the hidden moments, where cell by cell, something wholly wonderful is knit together. It's birth on some distant future day, breaking into a world of life with dramatic pain and ecstasy all rolled into one will indeed be glorious. But it will, forever and always be, the child of the daily devotions that gave it all form and all function...that made the dream live. And so that is my 2024 challenge vision...to embrace the mountains that come to me and my community, with an equanimity that finds acceptance and determined momentum all rolled into one, lived out in the daily devotion of "get er done." 

Scott Polenz. Vice President of Physician and Advanced Practice Clinician Relations at Marshfield Clinic Health System (Wis.): Like many healthcare organizations across the country, financial challenges are paramount. We are both embarking on and excited about our aggressive and innovative financial turnaround plan that touches all aspects of our organization and future.

Christopher McLarty, DNP, ACNP-BC. Associate Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of UT Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas): With the new year upon us, I look forward to seeing all that 2024 will hold. While many of us will continue to focus on the "workforce," I am encouraging our teams to think a little differently — about the "work" more broadly and inclusive of the workforce. What I mean by this is that we cannot focus only on workforce, pipeline development, and recruitment/ retention — though these priorities surely remain. We must simultaneously be looking at opportunities for efficiency, innovative care models, reimagined clinical skill mix, space utilization, complimentary services and cohorting thereof, technology-related solutions such as the impact of AI, and so on. 

This is crucial as, in my opinion, there is and will continue to be far more work to be done than the clinical workforce to do it. We must start to think more unconstrained about how and where we are to deliver the care of the future, as much as who's going to deliver it.

Patrick Runnels, MD. Chief Medical Officer of Population Health at University Hospitals Cleveland: In thinking about transforming our system to provide the highest possible value to all our patients, alignment across the entire organization at all levels is key because the work of transformation requires nearly all aspects of an organization to operate differently than they have. 

In 2024 at University Hospitals, we will be embracing the Objectives and Key Results Framework put forth by John Doer, which is a collaborative goal-setting methodology used by teams and individuals to set challenging, ambitious goals with measurable results. OKRs are utilized to track progress, create alignment, and encourage engagement around measurable goals. While integrating that process into all teams requires the shattering of silos and embracing change, when done well, we believe it will position our organization to be a national leader in value-based care.

Johanna Vidal-Phelan, MD, MBA. Chief Medical Officer of Quality and Pediatrics at UPMC Health Plan; Clinical Assistant Professor, Pediatrics of University at Pittsburgh School of Medicine: In 2024, the most exciting challenge for many of us in the healthcare industry lies at the intersection of health equity, quality improvement, and outcomes. Advancing health equity involves developing strategies to eliminate disparities in health outcomes among different population groups. This complex task requires a deep understanding of social determinants of health and the essential elements of innovative solutions to address them. 

Improving quality and optimizing healthcare outcomes involves innovative, systemic member- and provider-centric initiatives and the implementation of effective interventions to enhance clinical care across the continuum. The integration of these essential elements presents an exciting opportunity to transform the healthcare landscape and deliver high-quality, equitable care to all patients and members. We have had significant success in this arena, with recognition from CMS as a 5 out of 5 star Medicare Advantage plan for our HMO and PPO plans and NCQA accreditation in health equity. We look forward to continued achievements.

Vi-Anne Antrum. Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Cone Health (Greensboro, N.C.): The most exciting challenge for 2024 is accelerating our value-based journey! This involves putting our health equity work front and center, leveraging technology in new ways to enhance our care delivery and free clinicians to do clinical work, expanding our footprint digitally and geographically, taking on more risk, and partnering with our communities and others. It's going to be an exciting year ahead!

Rebecca F. Cady. Vice President and Chief Risk Officer of Children's National Hospital (Washington, D.C.): My most exciting challenge for 2024 is looking at how risk professionals can leverage artificial intelligence to improve the way we manage claims and risk financing. I'm approaching this by engaging my team with thought leaders in this space and asking "how might we" in terms of safely adding these tools to our portfolio.

Marisa Farabaugh. Chief Supply Chain Officer of AdventHealth (Altamonte Springs, Fla.): The most exciting challenge for 2024 is continuing to advance the work we began last year that will enable AdventHealth to better serve our communities and patients in an ever-changing healthcare environment, and further support our brand promise to help those we serve feel whole. We will open a brand-new consolidated service center that will support supply chain, pharmacy, courier services and print services operations for our system and equip AdventHealth for future growth. 

We will design and build our future ERP systems as we prepare to move to the Cloud in 2026. We will take the next step in our environmental sustainability journey launching into waste and water conservations after a successful 2023, where we executed two virtual purchase power agreements effectively transitioning AdventHealth to 100% renewable electricity in 2026. 

We will create a center of excellence for our design and construction services within the company to provide value to our partners across the industry. We will lean into systemwide initiatives within pharmacy, radiology, and laboratory services, ultimately aimed at providing enhanced services to our patients and employees across the country. We are excited to see this work progress in ways that will benefit our operations, clinical care and ultimately, those we serve.

Bill Munley. Market Administrator of Southeast at Shriners Hospitals for Children - Greenville (S.C.): As a system, Shriners Children's is focused on treating more kids in more places. In Greenville (South Carolina) and Lexington (Kentucky), our most exciting challenge is growing our volumes by seeking closer relationships with FQHCs, rural hospitals, critical access hospitals, and urgent care centers. We will also seek new alternative patient arrangements with insurance companies and employers, including CIN membership and bundled payments. Many health systems in our country are currently experiencing financial difficulties; we will work to affiliate with them to ease their burden in regard to complicated pediatric specialty care.

Patti Artley. Adjunct Associate Professor and Former Chief Nursing Officer of Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston): In 2024, one challenge we are facing revolves around the high costs of healthcare. To tackle this, we must use creativity and innovation to drive our healthcare approach. Within our organization, we are fostering an environment that encourages fresh ideas and unconventional thinking, enabling us to explore advanced technologies and find breakthroughs that elevate care quality while reducing expenses.

Scott Jessie, MSN, RN. Chief Nursing Officer of SUNY Upstate University Hospital (Syracuse, N.Y.): The turn of the New Year brings endless opportunities and challenges for us. Like many systems across the country, we continue to focus on managing access and capacity, rising costs, staffing challenges, and regulatory changes that are broadly impacting the industry. Despite the many challenges, we have a lot of excitement around growth, the opening of new service sites, innovation with technology and AI, and continuing to rebuild and come back better from the lingering effects of the pandemic. 

Not much good came from the pandemic, but it did show us that we can actually do things differently. We were able to break down our institutional inertia and make changes rapidly. Now we have to take those lessons, apply them, and redefine the new normal. In some ways that's a once in a career opportunity and that's exciting.

Bharat Magu. Chief Medical Officer of Yuma (Ariz.) Regional Medical Center: Access to healthcare is a widespread challenge throughout the country, and our region is no exception. Like many other communities and health systems, we are experiencing a shortage of providers. While recruitment continues to be a primary focus, we are also exploring innovative solutions. These include telemedicine, self-service options and self-scheduling for ancillary services, deploying mobile units, providing medical transportation to tackle social determinants of health, and partnering with school systems to establish school-based clinics. These initiatives are just a few of the ways we are working to enhance healthcare access in our community in 2024.

Julie Gauderman. Associate Director and Assistant Professor at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota (Winona) Graduate Program in Nurse Anesthesiology: Our most exciting challenge is continued growth and adaptation. The workforce is now experiencing expected challenges following the initial years of the pandemic and our role is to lead through these challenges by being responsive, creative and steady. As a nurse anesthesiology educator, I am looking for ways to increase our cohorts in size and clinical opportunities so that we can meet the needs of our communities everywhere. While the initial challenges of COVID have subsided, the landscape has changed and we must come together and find ways to meet the ever-advancing needs of the patients we care for, fully utilize the resources we have and seek to optimize all providers. 

Whitney Haggerson. Vice President, Health Equity and Medicaid of Providence (Renton, Wash.): 2024 is off to a great start! Providence is poised to have another milestone year in health equity. We are gearing up to implement a new health equity strategic plan that expands upon previous years' efforts that helped to reduce inequities in breast and colon cancer, depression screening and diabetes control within the communities we serve. 

This year I am most excited about a new strategic initiative focused on reducing inequities in hypertension control within the BIPOC patient population, including multi-modal and multi-lingual engagement efforts, diversified care team clinical pharmacy and community health workers to support patients' social drivers, and remote patient monitoring to support self-management.

Joseph Mitchell, MD. President of Franciscan Children's; Executive Vice President of Boston Children's Hospital: Our major challenge in 2024 is recruiting and retaining our specialized workforce. At Franciscan Children's, we provide complex behavioral health and post-acute care. Attracting and retaining staff in these service lines is especially difficult, given the high rates of burnout. Pandemic-fueled increase in demand for behavioral healthcare and growing acuity led to high turnover levels and exacerbated competition for scarce resources.

We have adopted a multi-prong and innovative approach to address these issues. This includes improved compensation and benefits, enhanced professional development and career ladders, investments in staff wellness and mental health.

We are working on exposing more young people to these fields, in partnership with local colleges and universities. We are also developing more flexible career options, cross-training staff to cover multiple units, and improving collaboration with our system partners. Finally, we have ramped up programs to celebrate our staff, better understand their daily pain points, and improve communication.

Jay S. Grider, DO, PhD. Chief Physician Executive of UK HealthCare (Lexington, Ky.): Growing the personnel to staff planned footprint expansion. Continuing to ask questions of the organization about how we progress on becoming a high-reliability organization.

Kimberly Cantees, MD. Vice Chair of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Pittsburgh Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine Department; Clinical Director of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital: I am most excited about two independent challenges/opportunities that will significantly improve the anesthesiology and perioperative medicine as well as pain management in 2024:

  • Continued advances in AI-enabled healthcare may allow for more efficient and comprehensive review of electronic health data for surgical patient evaluation, moving towards a future state in which AI will help to make the entire perioperative process more data-driven, with resulting increased efficiency.
  • Advances in neuromodulation may lead to different anesthetics and methods of delivery as well as augmented postoperative pain management. 
  • The above-referenced advances in neuromodulation may help us to better understand and manage chronic pain conditions.

Terrie Edwards. Corporate Vice President of Sentara Healthcare (Norfolk, Va.): In Sentara, there are several most exciting challenges in 2024 which will add value to the consumers we serve. First, is the focus on providing an exceptional consumer experience. Second, is engaging our colleagues and providing an inclusive culture in which to work. These, coupled with growth and community impact will be the focus for 2024. These challenges will be addressed through an intentional transformational shift to operate our health system and health plan as one enterprise, "One Sentara."

Stephanie Everett. Administrator and CEO of Mountrail County Health Center (Stanley, N.D.): With all the challenges that are coming at a critical access hospital and a rural health clinic, we need to stay focused on utilizing the best resources out there to help keep us moving forward and ahead. From choosing the right ACO to pivot us correctly into the value-based care arena to using the right telemedicine company with cutting-edge technology and innovative services to engaging with our GPO to align us with additional savings opportunities to maximize value with contract utilization. 

Maryann Alexander, PhD, RN. Chief Officer of Nursing Regulation at National Council of State Boards of Nursing (Chicago): NCSBN's groundbreaking 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey brought into focus the crisis surrounding nursing shortages and the intention of almost one-fifth of registered nurses to leave the profession by 2027. This publication sparked a national conversation on what can be done to stem this tide with NCSBN bringing together experts from around the U.S. in an ongoing discussion on solutions to staffing, burnout and the prevention of workplace violence. 

As part of NCSBN's ongoing investigation into this crisis, it will publish a special edition of its Journal of Nursing Regulation in April that will take an in-depth look at this crucial study. The topics of these sub-analyses will take a deep dive into the data revealed in the workforce study covering the topics of telehealth, travel nursing, racial and ethnic breakdown of the nursing population, APRNs, workforce distribution in rural and urban areas, and faculty trends.

James Terwilliger. President, Puget Sound Market, Northwest Region, CommonSpirit Health (Chicago): Our most important challenge is always how to best serve more patients while ensuring high quality and exceptional patient experience. In 2024 we are going to be very focused on finding ways to scale and accelerate innovation in how and where care happens. We have the technology to transform healthcare delivery. We are already demonstrating excellent clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction, so I'm excited to see what more we can do. I believe that leveraging data is going to be a key driver in allowing us to better serve our region by maximizing our capacity, including staff deployment, resource flow, throughput and patient volumes.

Jeremy Cauwels, MD. Chief Physician of Sanford Health (Sioux Falls, S.D.): Our most exciting challenge for 2024 is improving our patients' experience in our hospitals and clinics. At the most basic level, this is about providing care that respects and responds to each patient's specific needs, preferences and values. Research has shown that patient satisfaction directly correlates to better quality outcomes. We know that a patient who is more engaged with their provider is more likely to seek preventive care, adhere to medication and treatment plans and follow up as directed. Improving the patient experience can also be an important tool to build trust in healthcare, promote shared decision-making and ensure better care coordination. 

Building a culture of safety that encourages open and transparent communication is a cornerstone of this work. We are also committed to meeting patients where they're at by expanding virtual care options, which have become an expectation of our patients today. Video visits and other telehealth options allow us to provide high-quality, seamless care regardless of zip code. As an integrated health system, we believe we are uniquely positioned to lead the way in transforming the care experience for the patients we serve across the rural Midwest and are excited about the possibilities to shape the future of care delivery.

Amy Cain, RN, MSN, MBA, CPHQ. Chief Quality Officer of West Tennessee Healthcare (Jackson): As I anticipate what lies before all of healthcare in 2024 and beyond, both what is clear and certain and what remains elusive, our future challenges and our past triumphs I keep coming back to one core organizational competency critical to success in all lines of business – workforce development. That is my most exciting challenge for 2024. My approach is two-fold: I must relentlessly care for the people, take care of the people, take care of our patients and create intentional bite-size opportunities and forums for our front-line and mid-level managers to develop and grow in leadership competence. 

Relentlessly caring for people means being present, listening empathetically, providing support while simultaneously empowering people to solve problems in their areas of responsibility – even if that means letting someone fail forward. 

Bite-size opportunities for front-line leaders to grow is so important right now – middle management has always been the most demanding and compressed role in healthcare, and that is only exacerbated now by staffing shortages and volume pressures. What that looks like for me is – mini topical boot camps, tool kits, at-the-elbow support and coaching through a new/first-time challenge. 

Returning often to check in on how a new skill has been incorporated and leveraging meeting and huddle forums already in place for small groups – short, sweet, soft leadership training.

Michael Prokopis. Vice President of Supply Chain at MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston): MD Anderson is committed to ensuring fiscal responsibility through optimizing the management of our inventory. As part of a multi-faceted approach, we will roll-out a fully integrated inventory management system to gain full visibility of inventory and consumption. Combined with vision machine learning, this system will allow us to reduce inventory carrying costs, to reduce product waste, and to provide the digital input for true demand planning.

Erik J. Blutinger, MD. Medical Director of Community Paramedicine at Mount Sinai Health Partners; Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System (New York City): This year, the most exciting challenge will be shifting from reactive to preventative care to help further public health efforts. We have more tools at our disposal like generative AI and virtual platforms but health resources are still limited especially when using proactive approaches for targeting complex patients and populations. A goal of mine is to work with others to help boost patient outcomes, improve medical resource use, and reduce costs; as the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure.

Michelle Fortune. Ministry Service Line President Surgery and Endoscopy of Mercy (St. Louis): I'm embarking on a thrilling chapter in my career journey as I kick off the new year with a significant move. I've recently joined Mercy, a highly integrated, multi-state Catholic health care system including more than 50 acute care and specialty hospitals. In my role as president of the surgery and gastroenterology service line, I am privileged to help drive brand-related targeted growth across our regions as we work to define and expand our patient/consumer care promise.

LeWanza Harris, MD. Vice President of Quality and Regulatory Affairs at Mount Sinai Health System (New York City): I am excited about the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in improving patient outcomes by assisting clinicians in better clinical decision-making. These tools can make predictions about patients that improve the efficiency, timeliness, and effectiveness of care. Our approach is to continue the partnership with our digital team to identify high-value opportunities for our most high-risk, vulnerable patients while minimizing costs. 

Greg Till. Chief People Officer of Providence (Renton, Wash.): From a workforce perspective, one of the most exciting challenges for 2024 is figuring out how to help reduce our caregivers' administrative burden, increase clinical capacity, and restore the joy of practice, using new technology. At Providence, we've been working to digitize work and deploy innovative technology for some time, but the recent increase in pragmatic applications for AI, including large language models, will make a significant difference. While some might be concerned by the potential impact these new technologies will have, we see big opportunities to augment, assist, and automate administrative tasks in an effort to make work "more human." 

Jill Wiedemann-West. CEO of People Incorporated Mental Health Services (Eagan, Minn.): Our most exciting challenge for 2024 is leveraging data-driven insights in our business and in healthcare, especially behavioral healthcare, which can be transformative. By consolidating and analyzing various data sets we can extract valuable information about our clients and community wellness overall. Data will allow us to tailor services, improve operational efficiency, explore new avenues for growth, and guide organizational decision-making.

Using data to tell a story is compelling. It helps illustrate the impact of your organization's work, whether in demonstrating the effectiveness of specific treatments or highlighting areas where improvements can be made. I am very excited about learning that will allow us to modify behavior and strategy, thereby improving care and equity for those in need.

Michelle Stansbury. Vice President of Innovation and IT Applications at Houston Methodist: Like many organizations, we are working with AI tools to enhance the patient experience.

There's a lot of opportunity that comes with AI, but we look at it through the lens of solving specific problems. One of the most impactful uses of AI tools to date is through our Virtual ICU to be proactive versus reactive in our care delivery and make future predictions to help patients. Another pilot initiative involves cardiovascular and orthopedic surgery patients. In this pilot, we've partnered with an organization to use AI to comb through a large database of Medicare data to help us predict the likelihood of a chronic condition or risk of adverse events. 

While this is exciting, it can also be quite challenging and what we've learned and excelled in at Houston Methodist is the change management piece when it comes to incorporating AI and other digital healthcare technology. Because of our culture of "succeed fast, fail fast," we are able to take learnings from pilots with new technology like this and scale across the Houston Methodist hospital system.

Thomas Maddox, MD. Vice President of Digital Products and Innovation at BJC HealthCare/Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis): We have recently merged with a fellow health system, nearly doubling our geographic footprint. This offers a wonderful opportunity to learn from our new partner's experience, share ours, and together craft a unified and comprehensive digital experience for our patients and care teams. We will do this via our digital capabilities in user-centered design, product management, and Agile delivery. When our integration is complete, our patients and care teams will experience a seamless, digitally enabled care delivery experience that delivers world-class health outcomes.

Merry-Ann Keane MSN, BSN. CEO of Newport (Wash.) Hospital & Health Services: The most exciting challenge I see in 2024 is leading our post-pandemic "new normal" and how we can better care for our teams and our patients. Hardship was experienced by both caregivers and patients, during the pandemic, personally and professionally. 2023 brought a righting of staffing and financial measures while dealing with higher acuity; we had to do more with less. 2024 is about exploring ways to bring work-life balance, health and wellness, and exceptional care to our staff, patients and community while remaining sustainable. Definitely a worthy challenge!

Gina Calder. President of Barnes Jewish St. Peters Hospital and Progress West Hospital (St. Peters, Mo.): I would say harmonizing unity and uniqueness. As part of the larger BJC system, and with a leadership team that has the responsibility for two different hospitals, we are unified in our approach to delivering extraordinary care in a way that is consistent with our sister hospitals. When a patient goes to a BJC hospital, they know what level of care they can expect. And for our employees and providers, it means something special to be part of BJC, and I want all of our employees at Progress West Hospital and Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital to feel connected to a unified culture operating with a foundational set of values.

At the same time, we are privileged to serve a growing and diverse community, and we seek to recognize the unique needs of the patients cared for in each of our locations and leverage the unique skills, talent and expertise of the local provider/employee teams and community partners. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to care, so we tailor as much as possible to the targeted needs of our patients and employees in each location.

Our challenge is to take all of the advantages of being part of an amazing system and give our employees that sense of belonging while tailoring our environments to augment and amplify what makes these two specific hospitals so special and deeply connected to the patients and communities we serve. Achieving that ensures we all thrive together.

Edith Okolo, PharmD. Director of Pharmacy of Cedar Crest Hospital (Allentown, Pa.): Looking at 2024 and the challenge before me as a healthcare professional, most of the challenge stems from all the goals and aspirations set for 2024 and how to fulfill these goals.

Meeting regulatory requirements is top on my list. We are in the window for TJC inspection so we are working to ensure all our processes and operations meet the standard. Improving patient care and outcomes by continuous education and training to keep up with the trending times. Staying within budget is another exciting challenge we hope to overcome in order to stay in business and we are going to be looking at ways to do this including working with staff to improve satisfaction on the job and decrease the turnover rate. 

We will be transitioning into our new systems, the EMAR system and the Omnicell Machines, we look forward to overcoming any challenges to the implementation and navigation of these new systems.

Ronald Place, MD. President and CEO of Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center (Sioux Falls, S.D.): Our most exciting (and greatest) challenge in 2024 is being able to grow our capabilities and capacity at a rate that matches the rapid growth of the Sioux Falls metro area. We're excited that our community is growing so quickly and that we're able to offer our services to new people every day. Further, we need to be mindful of the advantages and risks in the incorporation of home care, virtual care, AI, and any other process or technological innovation as we grow.

Sunil Eappen, MD. President and CEO of University of Vermont Health Network (Burlington): We are at a critical moment in healthcare reform in Vermont with the potential to move towards the new CMMI model for value-based care named AHEAD. Vermont has already made important strides toward value-based care and improved population health management – a transition that's also a core strategy for the University of Vermont Health Network. We are testing innovative treatment and payment models and showing our commitment to creating a healthcare system that can truly focus on quality of care rather than quantity while slowing the rise of healthcare costs.

We know that to meet the needs of a growing and aging population, we need to change the system so it rewards keeping people healthier and offering more care at home to keep them out of emergency rooms and hospitals. However, while our efforts so far have put us at the forefront of payment reform work nationally, we know this is a systemic, policy and cultural shift that will be a massive undertaking requiring engagement from hospitals, health systems, payers, regulators, and state and federal leaders. 

We see potential in this new federal model that could move us in the direction we want to go, and we will be deliberating in the coming weeks and months to determine whether that is the best path for our health system. It is a big challenge, especially given the ongoing financial and operational challenges we face alongside hospitals and health systems nationwide, but the positive impact this work could have for the health and well-being of our patients, families, and communities – and for the sustainability of our health system – is exciting.

Edmund Sabanegh. President and CEO of The Guthrie Clinic (Sayre, Pa.): Guthrie has been and will continue to focus on the deployment of pioneering care models in harmony with new technology. From virtual nursing, AI-enhanced monitoring to predictive algorithms for clinical outcomes, the future of healthcare is to be innovative in the way we deliver care at the right time, and the right place for the patient. The challenge remains to keep the focus personalized to the patient while efficiently addressing their needs. 

In this time of rapid technological change and workforce constraints, we must always be mindful of the "person" before us and foster compassion, remaining true to our values of patient-centered care, teamwork, and excellence. Our value proposition revolves around using technological solutions to allow preservation of value-added interactions with caregivers, rather than replacing them. These represent opportunities to disrupt industry norms and I am proud to lead an organization that is ready to take on these challenges in 2024. 

Brad Martin. Associate Director of Care Innovation and Community Improvement Program at UC Health (Aurora, Colo.): My most exciting challenge this year is finding ways to leverage all of our previous work to accelerate the collective quality impact for our Medicaid patients in our statewide quality improvement and innovation collaborative. As we've developed our Coalition, we've learned plenty on just how important shared vision, joint goals, open communication, and common language of improvement are to establishing those collective impacts, particularly in quality improvement efforts to enhance access to high-quality care and share learnings within our community. 

Our four health systems are each distinct in their people, processes, and structures, so we've spent much time in the previous years developing collaborative processes, teamwide trust, data-sharing tools, and enhanced quality improvement training across our coalition and we're excited to tackle the challenge of leveraging those common processes to accelerate our impact for our patients. 

Brian Adams. President and CEO of AdventHealth Central Florida Division: Access is our largest challenge in 2024 as we face significant healthcare demand in our growing Central Florida community. Ensuring there are providers to care for patients is paramount. One of the tools we are looking to further leverage is artificial intelligence to enable growth and lessen work intensity for our providers. For example, we're looking at how we can use thoroughly vetted and secure AI ambient listening tools to empower our physicians and advanced practice providers to spend more time interacting with and listening to their patients. When used responsibly, effectively, and with our expert clinicians and technology teams guiding the process, new AI technologies can revolutionize health care in a way that benefits patients, their families, and caregivers. 

Ngozi Ezike, MD. President and CEO of Sinai Chicago: Limited financial resources within a community should not equal a limited lifespan. At Sinai Chicago, we remain unwavering in our resolve to close the health disparity gaps seen across our city. The exciting challenge of tackling these gaps involves engaging with partners who share our philosophy that healthcare provision is truly an issue of justice. 

We're making real progress. We are bridging the digital divide with a new state-of-the-art EMR system. We are increasing the number of culturally and linguistically competent caregivers to best serve our diverse communities. Looking ahead, continuing our work to raise visibility and awareness of the critical impact of urban community health systems and the broad-based support needed for our work are our priorities for 2024 and beyond.

Jill Hoggard Green, PhD, RN. President and CEO of The Queen's Health System (Honolulu): This year, as we begin year four of a transformational 10-year plan, we set ambitious benchmarks. In particular, we've increased our annual benchmark goals around reducing health inequities for Native Hawaiians and other vulnerable populations. Aiming even higher this year with the outcomes we want to see will present both challenges and opportunities. Most of all, we are excited about what this progress will mean: acceleration towards our aspirational goal to reduce Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander health disparities to close the gap in life expectancy, which is seven years less than all other ethnicities in Hawaii.

We are guided by the Kahua Ola Plan (literally meaning foundation of health, wellness and well-being), a strategic framework that was aligned with Hawaii's 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment. In our approach, Queen's is addressing the factors contributing to this lower life expectancy by targeting the social determinants of health. We are increasing access to culturally safe clinical programs, strengthening relationships and engagement with community service organizations, and improving health outcomes through a population health strategy. 

In particular, we are reaching out beyond our hospitals and health centers and engaging directly with our island communities. By ensuring they are partners with Queen's, we can build a population health strategy that is framed by the cultures, traditions and practices of indigenous Native Hawaiians and other indigenous Pacific peoples who make Hawaii their home.

Darby Davenport. Manager of Operations and Telehealth at UAB Health System (Birmingham, Ala.): My most exciting challenge in 2024 is working to expand remote patient monitoring services across the UAB Health System. We are serving patients with primary diagnoses of congestive heart failure, hypertension, and diabetes. These diagnoses represent thousands of patients across the state of Alabama who are likely struggling to fully manage their chronic care condition. 

Our cellular-enabled devices allow patients to automatically transmit data via their glucometers, blood pressure cuffs, and scales without the need of a smartphone or external applications. My hope is to continue educating our providers so more patients are referred to the platform. We can then serve as secondary providers and work in tandem with a monitoring provider to help the patient manage their condition. This in turn reduces risks for hospital admissions and subsequent readmissions, emergency room visits, and other costly services to both the patient and hospital alike. 

By offering RPM to our patients, we help improve access to care across a predominately rural state while reducing the burden on the health system and simultaneously decreasing carbon emissions associated with in-person care. Furthermore, I hope to utilize RPM expansion to support the argument for expanded coverage for these services by numerous healthcare insurers.

Helen Egger, MD. Chief Medical and Scientific Officer of Little Otter Health (San Francisco): As the Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at Little Otter, my primary focus this year revolves around fostering growth and expansion without compromising on quality. At the heart of our approach is the commitment to high-quality measurement-based care, yielding exceptional results. We recognize that scaling our efforts requires a solid foundation in measurement and evidence-based therapies.

What truly excites me is the innovative integration of data and AI into our processes, aimed at supporting and empowering our dedicated clinicians. By leveraging these technologies, we aim to enhance their effectiveness, alleviate their burdens, and concurrently elevate the quality of care provided to children and their families. It's the synergy of these initiatives that allows us to make a substantial impact on the mental health crisis, addressing the needs of our community with unwavering commitment.

Heidi Wald, MD. Chief Quality and Safety Officer of Clinical Excellence at Intermountain Health (Salt Lake City): I am responsible for integrating health equity into our clinical excellence (Quality/Safety/Experience) portfolio. I am excited to center equity in the clinical enterprise, integrate it into our clinical operations, and apply modified quality improvement methodologies to reduce disparities in clinical outcomes. Further, this work will strengthen ties across the organization, tying to our caregiver diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiative and our community health efforts.

Pradeep Kadambi, MD. President and CEO of University of Florida Jacksonville Physicians; Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville: My most exciting challenge for 2024 is looking at access to Care, both operationally and based on health outcomes. We have a great team that is engaged and aligned and will look at providing the right care, at the right time, in the right setting, and for the right cost.

We will leverage data analytics and make the needed adjustments to ensure we are optimizing our resources to provide the best possible care. In addition, we will tie this to our organizational quality outcome measures. 

Mark Schuster, MD. Founding Dean and CEO of Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine (Pasadena, Calif.): The AI revolution in medicine is here, and we're (cautiously!) excited to harness its power to help us train our medical students to be outstanding doctors. We have begun developing basic curricula about large language models and neural networks so that our students recognize both AI's potential and its limitations and risks, especially when it comes to serving a diverse patient population. 

It's amazing to consider the ways that AI might transform healthcare — from taking notes in patient records to improving diagnosis and management plans to helping communicate clearly with patients — and we want our students to be ready to use it wisely. Interestingly, some of our students have already found it useful to ask ChatGPT to explain challenging material to them and to develop practice test questions to hone their knowledge. We expect to see more creative uses over the coming year. 

Jared Muenzer, MD. Chief Physician Executive of Phoenix Children's; COO of Phoenix Children’s Medical Group: Our biggest challenge this year will be opening two new hospitals. We've been preparing for the past three years, giving us the time needed for planning and staffing. For us at Phoenix Children's, these two community hospitals, combined with the quaternary care at our main Thomas Campus, will allow us to bring world-class pediatric care closer to home for patients and families. Our two new hospitals, in combination with our state-wide ambulatory footprint, will help us close gaps in much-needed services across the pediatric care continuum.

R. Kyle Kramer. CEO of Day Kimball Healthcare (Putnam, Conn.): With our service area in the rural corner of northeast Connecticut, our key challenges center on access and equity. 

Regarding insufficient access, Connecticut's rural regions often lack sufficient healthcare infrastructure, making it challenging for residents to access medical services promptly. While there are community tools that connect struggling state residents with services such as rideshares for routine medical appointments, these resources are hard to access, and staffing shortages have been a major impediment to rural healthcare access. In essence, availability does not always equate to accessibility.

In terms of the equity, for Medicaid patients who are lower income, finding providers in rural Connecticut can also be a challenge. As such, rural providers who do accept Medicaid find themselves overwhelmed. At Day Kimball, a major provider in eastern Connecticut, 70 percent of the hospital patient revenue comes from Medicare and Medicaid. For Medicaid patients, the hospital loses anywhere between forty cents to sixty cents on the dollar. This makes cost prohibitive for providers to serve people who need it the most. 

As CEO of Day Kimball Health, and co-chair of the state of Connecticut's Rural Healthcare Subcomittee, I am focused on navigating these challenges and working to develop meaningful policy solutions for our patients and all patients that face these rural healthcare challenges in our state.

Richard Kresch. President and CEO of US HealthVest (New York City): The main challenges for 2024 revolve around receiving fair reimbursement from insurance payers, cost controls and managing the evolving psychological makeup of the labor force. I believe that providers will need to utilize AI in order to establish a level playing field with insurance companies and their ever more sophisticated methods of avoiding paying providers to which they are entitled. 

Controlling costs will require renewed efforts on creative purchasing, inventory control and monitoring of facility usage. While staffing shortages have eased up considerably, the mindset and work experience expectations of the labor force have changed and employers will need to look beyond compensation and work environment issues and attend to workers' need for personal satisfaction and emotional support in the workplace. Uncharted territory for many management teams.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars