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Snapshots of recent healthcare events attended by Jarrard Inc.

EVENT: American College of Healthcare Executives 2023 Congress on Healthcare Leadership

WHERE & WHEN: Chicago, IL, March 20-23

The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) conference convened in-person for the first time in three years—and it was the perfect moment for everyone to come back together. Although the healthcare industry is facing a litany of hardships, attendees arrived ready to face them head on, collectively and with optimism. Our colleagues who attended came back with some insights:

  • Workforce Wins the Day. All eyes are on workforce diversity. Leaders have been trying to address DEI and health equity imperatives that have become even stronger since the declaration of the public health emergency. Now some clear solutions have come into focus. Industry leaders are investing in the workforce pipeline through partnerships with diverse trade schools and medical colleges. These partnerships directly support DEI efforts and encourage young people to pursue a career in healthcare. With DEI as a business imperative, there’s a need for health leaders to embrace collaboration and explore outside-of-the-box ideas, bringing their community into conversations about diversity, advocating for diverse board membership and creating a workforce community that is not only diverse but inclusive.
  • Middle Managers are the change agents. More on workforce—this time morale and culture focused. Last year, our nurse engagement survey found that trust is highest at the ground level. Nurses trust their direct managers and colleagues most. It’s a point that was reinforced by speakers at ACHE. To foster a culture of accountability, trust and engagement, healthcare leaders should encourage middle managers to think strategically at the interdepartmental level, like a senior leader would at the organization level. Think less “middle manager” and more “Unit CEO.”
  • Take risks, strategically. Don’t lead from a position of fear, but rather cautious optimism and with a growth mindset. Wave after wave of new technology is washing up on your shore, each promising solutions to long-standing health issues (heart disease, obesity, sleep disorder) and systemic issues (pharmacy delivery, telemedicine, etc.). Now is the time to jump in, with a plan of action and communication, but also a willingness to change those plans if the tide turns. Healthcare disruptors like Amazon are doing as much, with a respectable success rate. Informed risk taking is necessary to keep up.
  • Localized trust. Recent media coverage hasn’t been too favorable for provider organizations. There’s good news though: AHA public perception tracking, and our own Consumer Survey, have found that trust and confidence in local hospitals are still high. But it’s no time for a sigh of relief—provider organizations have lost the COVID halo and outspoken adversaries, such as payers fighting consolidation and pharma pushing hospitals on 340B, have their stories straight. It’s in provider organizations’ best interest to do the same—be able to justify partnerships and keep a sharp focus on self-regulation and best practices in billing. Build trust with clarity and transparency. Choose a path, articulate it and align those actions to your organization’s values.
  • The role of hospitals is changing. The demand for more convenient and financially accessible outpatient clinics and facilities is on the rise, and even with intensive and acute care, patients are looking for a consumer-focused experience—think digital and self-service tools, personalized care and targeted communications. Creating an adaptive, purpose-driven culture for your employees is pivotal and underpins the consumer experience. Leaders of large for-profit and non-profit health systems both spoke to the importance of improving the employee experience to compete with industry disruptors in patient experience and drive transformational change in the industry. Communicating your strategic vision and priorities and empowering employees to share new ideas and new ways of thinking will transform the industry one little step at a time.

The leaders at ACHE see the challenges, new and old, facing the healthcare industry and raise them potential solutions. A display of optimism that’s also grounded in reality.