Technology is changing the C-suite landscape

IT and analytical skills in high demand for hospital executives
By Jessica Davis
11:00 AM
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A recent Black Book Market Research survey revealed hospitals are finding their C-suite is unprepared for the drastic technological innovations in healthcare and are seeking solutions. In fact, for the first time in 15 years, healthcare industry experience dropped from the top 10 desired skills of recruited executives.

"The power and data of analytics is profoundly changing the healthcare business and clinical landscape, and once again hospitals need more top-management tech muscle," said Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book, in a press statement.

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"It's evident that without added C-suite horsepower at this crossroads of value-based payment reform, population health and accountable care opportunities, that stoking the forces of advanced technologies and data analytics will be very difficult for most hospitals," he added.

This often means hiring C-suites from outside the healthcare field. Especially as hospitals continue to transition into patient-driven care, C-suite members must have a wide range of customer-related experiences. Many hospitals are recruiting executives from industries such as e-commerce, technology and consumer products.

Invenias Partners, a leadership and talent advisory firm that works with healthcare providers, recently released another study showing similar trends.

[See also: How to get C-suite to focus on security]

"Shifts in the healthcare landscape call for a new brand of healthcare leaders," wrote InveniasPartners President and CEO Curt Lucas, noting that terms such as "innovator, risk taker and change leader" are now key to any C-suite member's skill set.

One of key to success in larger goals such as population health and value-based care is through the incorporation of digital strategies as a way to engage patients and their families, according to the report, which put the spotlight on some health system leaders who are using technology to acquire and retain patients.

For example, Deborah Proctor, president and CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based St. Joseph Health, noted in the Invenias white paper that she predicts healthcare organizations will reduce their need for customer service representatives, but will require more execs to be equipped with the experience and skill to implement a variety of digital channels to engage patients with their hospital

The digital platform of St. Joseph Health provides an example of how to utilize technology to boost patient engagement. Patients can upload their personal information into the hub to connect with a healthcare provider in the applicable field. This data can be applied in other medical fields, as well.

However, members of the C-suite must not rely fully on technology to provide patient-centered care. In fact, the best executives recognize that there's a greater responsibility to remain personable when interacting with both patients and staff members. While technology can increase accuracy and the quality of care, personable care must remain at the forefront.

"Technology isolates people, compromising the interpersonal relationships that accelerate productivity," said Barry Ostrowsky, President and CEO of Barnabas Health, said in a press statement.

"The C-suite must counter the migration to non-interpersonal communication because we're in the people business and you can't manage people via twitter," he added.

Healthcare organizations and their C-suites need to rethink communication within their institutions to reflect the change in the landscape. The quality of care should be constant, Proctor note, but the management approach needs to reflect the region, local community and the patient to provide individualized care.

[See also: Crafting a telehealth strategy for the C-suite]