'What got us here will not get us there': How hospital execs are focusing on the future

Hospital and health system leaders work in an industry that has greatly evolved in recent years. But they are not looking back — opting instead to focus on key areas to ensure long-term success.

Addressing the evolving workforce and technology transformation were among the areas healthcare executives focused on this past year to prepare for future success. The executives featured in this article answered the following question from Becker's:  

Question: What is the smartest thing you've done in the last year to prepare for success in the future?

Lisa Abbott. Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of Boston Children's Hospital: The smartest thing we have done in the last year to prepare for the future is to focus forward on what the workforce and workplace of the future look like. What got us here will not get us there, and if we try to return to the pre-pandemic structure, we will fail. We strive to create flexibility in a traditionally rigid environment while actively seeking to bring the dynamic principles of what would be considered a "freelance" economy into healthcare. 

Nancy Andrews, MD, PhD. Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Boston Children's Hospital: I have focused on enabling our researchers — lowering barriers, improving our "customer service" — and making the difficult easier. Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, said it well: Our "task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it." That means we don't define areas of scientific focus top-down. Instead, we enable the imagination and entrepreneurial spirit of our faculty to embark on tomorrow's research today. 

Mike Thompson. Vice President of Enterprise Data Intelligence at Cedars-Sinai (Los Angeles): The establishment of the Cedars-Sinai Artificial Intelligence Council marks a pivotal stride in our technological journey because it is a collective commitment to steer the responsible development and deployment of artificial intelligence. The AI Council is a collaborative effort that aligns Cedars-Sinai's path towards innovation that is both leading edge and ethically sound. Our goal is to foster a future where AI serves as a catalyst for making a profound difference in the healthcare of our patients, the well-being of our employees and the operational efficiency of our healthcare system.

Maribeth McLaughlin, BSN, RN. Chief Nurse Executive at UPMC (Pittsburgh): UPMC is recognized as an industry leader, investing in education, recruitment and retention efforts to support and grow our nursing workforce. UPMC has made nursing education more affordable and accessible through tuition assistance, tuition discounts, academic partnerships, investments in allied healthcare education programs, and pay incentives for the most in-demand nursing positions.  

We are working to move much of the nonclinical work from our nurses so they can work at the "top of their license," which allows them to make the best use of their skills and training.

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