Care, staff, value-based models: 5 leaders on priorities in 2024

Hospital leaders across the country are gearing up to find new ways to tackle persistent issues like nurse retention and recruitment, how to navigate Medicare Advantage plan nuances, preparing to respond when communities are in crisis, standardizing and developing policies and more. 

Here are the priorities of five healthcare leaders as they head into 2024: 

Anthony Aquilina, DO. Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive at WellSpan Health (York, Pa.): This year we are continuing to understand how we best manage in a value-based world, especially when the government payer sector is growing. We believe that we can succeed in a value-based world, but need value-based reimbursement models. With the significant challenges right now with Medicare Advantage plans, we are working to better understand how we are going to participate in the process and get closer to the premium dollar. 

Jill Kalman, MD. Executive Vice President, Chief Medical Officer and Physician-in-Chief at Northwell Health (New York City): One of the challenges that we've been focusing on for years is delivering care in our communities. We have an entire group focused on community and population health that partners with our community — schools, faith-based leaders, and more — to learn what their needs are rather than thinking we know what they need. We look at food insecurity, housing, transportation and everything that touches access to healthcare.

We then pair that with the enormous public health crises in our communities, for example, behavioral health crises for adults and adolescents. What are we not doing that we need to do? How do we partner with those communities to find what assistance they need?  We take that on as these public health crises also define health. Part of the way we identify these crises is using high level data like sophisticated ZIP code analysis. We view our patients and communities as the whole person from poverty level, transportation needs, health needs, food needs, and further connect with these communities through technology.

Vikram Kashyap, MD. Vice President of Cardiovascular Health at Corewell Health (Grand Rapids, Mich.): I think we have to be very cognizant of keeping our teams engaged, being responsive to their needs, being proactive, and making sure that well-being and life balance are top priorities — and not just saying that but promoting mechanisms to ensure that that happens.

We are tackling staff needs in three ways. First, is an educational grant for our staff members so they can enhance their skills and bring that back to the bedside. We are also offering our young faculty, within five years of their training, an Innovations grant to travel to other sites and learn an innovative technique. We found a tremendous amount of professional growth and pride as a result of these grants, not just from the young faculty, but from their mentors and others supporting them. Lastly, we had a recognition ceremony celebrating some of our most loyal workers that have been continuously working for 30, 35, 40 years or more at our institution. Also, we celebrated a few physicians as our 2023 master clinicians. And another dozen or so non-physicians were selected as heroes of our institute — providing exemplary care to patients in a compassionate manner. 

Stacy Bentil, DNP, RN. Director of Nursing Services at a Connecticut-based health system: If we focus on just the nursing practice part of the healthcare sector, a major challenge is of course the workforce. We are experiencing a time of nursing shortage, so I think a critical component going into 2024 is recruitment and retention. 

Now, I know you probably hear that as a commonality, but from my lens it's also important to highlight what's so unique and different in the healthcare sectors for recruitment and retention. What are the avenues? How are we paving the ways to really recruit and retain these nurses? What makes nursing attractive today? And when we think of recruitment and retention, how does the leadership component play a factor? 

The nursing workforce has changed. There is a new generation that's coming in, and it's so exciting to have them, but nursing has a different lens for them. They look at nursing with a different perspective than we did. Care and compassion at the bedside is different today. We have a lot of social media, a lot of technology — and that makes engagement with the new generation that healthcare leaders …different. We have to highlight what is attractive about working in healthcare today. Do we have career ladders? Do we have career advancements for them? Do we have pathways into leadership if that's what they want to do?

Kristin Wolkart, BSN, RN. Executive Vice President and Interim System Chief Operating Officer and System Chief Nursing Officer at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (Baton Rouge, La.): Over the past calendar year, we increased our focus on working together as an integrated health system to create standardized practices, policies, and measures. Collaborating to tackle the challenges that exist universally across all our markets has resulted in escalated reductions in supply chain spend, decreased turnover, and improved patient experience and safety measures for our entire ministry. Because of this important work, our health system is positioned for long-term success despite the difficult headwinds the healthcare industry is experiencing.

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