Health System CEOs Cite Workforce Resiliency and Digital Transformation as Top Strategies for Growth in 2022

Providers to Grow Outpatient and Home Services by 20% and New Partnerships/Alliances by 13%, According to CU Denver and Guidehouse Study

WASHINGTON—April 14, 2022—Workforce resiliency, talent acquisition, digital transformation, and new partnerships are the top areas of focus for health system CEOs, according to a newly released 2022 Health Systems’ Climate Study from the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) and Guidehouse.

More than 130 health system CEOs participated in the study’s survey, suggesting they plan to grow their business lines to provide approximately 20% more services than in 2021 outside of the hospital and/or in the home (i.e., outpatient, non-surgical, preventive/wellness, lab/pharmacy, home health). However, the study also showed that the greatest challenges to achieving growth are non-clinical and clinical labor shortages, as well as the attraction and retention of staff post-COVID-19.

“This survey attracted a wide array of leadership participation, pointing to critical barriers facing health systems in an increasingly volatile environment,” said David Burik, partner and leader of the Guidehouse Center for Health Insights. “Though it’s no surprise the analysis confirmed that staff availability is the primary limitation for growth, it is encouraging to see the creative steps leaders are taking to implement change by prioritizing caregiver and consumer satisfaction.”

To address labor shortages, attract new talent, and better care for patients, most leaders are improving their focus on reskilling and upskilling employees (90%) as well as hiring a broader range of talent (87%) to meet the needs of their communities. According to the study, 84% of CEOs agreed that improving workforce diversity enhances brand and reputation, as well as consumer satisfaction.

“We want people who have differing ideas, experiences, and opinions because we need to grow and accelerate our thinking to achieve what is best for our community,” said Ashley Vertuno, CEO, HCA Florida JFK North Hospital. “Diversity and inclusion will make us more competitive in the marketplace, but, more importantly, it will help us align with and live up to our mission.”

Fiscal burdens and the ability to keep up with technology were also cited as top concerns for CEOs. In fact, 22% more CEOs see digital health as a disruptor compared to 2021, and leaders cited digital transformation as a top area of focus with virtual care as the most important service to achieve overall growth in 2022.

“Digital technologies are powering value-based care as well as improving the workflows and processes that support this paradigm shift,” said study co-author Rulon Stacey, PhD, director of Programs in Health Administration at CU Denver and a partner at Guidehouse. “Pacing consumer expectations—not chasing them—is everything.”

The study found that health systems are optimizing digital health via tele- and remote technologies to improve access and affordability, mobile technologies for engagement, and data mining and analysis to enhance care delivery. However, amid heightened threats of data breaches, ransomware, and other cyberattacks, which prey on legacy systems, CEOs suggested that having cybersecurity-related capabilities is the most pressing requirement to manage adoption of new technologies.

Jiban Khuntia, PhD, associate professor of Information Systems and director of the Health Administration Research Consortium at the Business School at CU Denver, who led the study, shared: “There are three clear actions for health system leaders based on this analysis. First, engaging consumers is vital—whole-person care requires a people-focused mentality. Second, treat your workforce like you treat your patients—have a plan to achieve a diverse workplace through proactive recruitment strategies and employee relationships. Finally, use innovative digital strategies across the organization—from serving consumers to managing talent.”

Improving strategic partnerships is critical to compete in a post-COVID-19 economy. CEOs cited a 13% increase in interest to pursue new partnerships and alliances in 2022. This includes collaborations with operating partners to improve efficiencies, with CEOs citing supply chain and logistics organizations and consultancies as the top two, followed by academia and peer/competing systems.

To develop the 2022 Health Systems’ Climate Study, a survey was conducted and analyzed by CU Denver’s Health Administration Research Consortium and the Guidehouse Center for Health Insights.

About Guidehouse
Guidehouse is a leading global provider of consulting services to the public sector and commercial markets, with broad capabilities in management, technology, and risk consulting. By combining our public and private sector expertise, we help clients address their most complex challenges and navigate significant regulatory pressures focusing on transformational change, business resiliency, and technology-driven innovation. Across a range of advisory, consulting, outsourcing, and digital services, we create scalable, innovative solutions that help our clients outwit complexity and position them for future growth and success. The company has more than 13,000 professionals in over 50 locations globally. Guidehouse is a Veritas Capital portfolio company, led by seasoned professionals with proven and diverse expertise in traditional and emerging technologies, markets, and agenda-setting issues driving national and global economies. For more information, please visit www.guidehouse.com.

About the Health Administration Research Consortium and CU Denver
The Health Administration Research Consortium (HARC) is focused on thought leadership in health administration and business research, relevant to health systems, health and diversity, digital and intelligent health, and health leadership. Dr. Jiban Khuntia serves as the founding director of the consortium. Dr. Rulon Stacey helped build HARC through the Graduate Programs in Health Administration (HA) support at the CU Denver Business School while serving as the director of the HA programs. The HA Program is at the forefront of education and research at the CU Denver Business School. It is among a small group of top-ranked institutions offering specialized business education focused on the healthcare industry. The CU Denver Business School has been developing leaders capable of changing the business world for the better. 

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