The COVID-19 pandemic presented hospital and health system leaders a range of unprecedented challenges – requiring quick adaptation of new leadership and operational strategies. The pandemic bared the weaknesses of past health care models and hastened the need for effective and aggressive information sharing.
Achieving transformative success will rely heavily on obtaining and developing strong leadership with the competencies necessary to drive meaningful profitability and operational change. As healthcare organizations take an honest look back at the lessons learned during the pandemic and look to rebuild, Cross Country Healthcare’s Forever Altered: Adapting to a Post-Pandemic Healthcare Landscape white paper takes a specific look at new ways of leading.
Recruiting & Developing Effective Healthcare Leaders.
Without a doubt, the internal development of leaders will be essential to future viability and success. A Capgemini 2020 survey found that moving forward, health systems will need to:
- Develop leaders internally within the organization (49 percent)
- Recruit experienced healthcare leaders from outside of the organization (25 percent)
- Recruit up and coming healthcare leaders from outside of the organization (17 percent)
- Recruit experienced leaders from other industries (9 percent)
Reliance will be substantial in recruiting both experienced leaders and emerging ones from outside the organization. Internal leadership development will need to prioritize critical competencies for cultivation, including effective decision-making, communication and collaboration, leading with vision and innovation, and integrity and transparency.
A Note on Integrity and Transparency.
Promoting leadership integrity and transparency is central to forming 21st Century patient and staffing partner relationships. Transparency is critical to building customer trust, and leaders must embed trust into products and services from the outset to ensure patient confidence and an exceptional experience.
Having the skills and ability to influence others with a new way of thinking and manage dramatic change effectively will be fundamental to driving more revenue back into the system. In fact, 57 percent of individuals with employer-based insurance surveyed by HRI said they were worried about getting care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders will play an essential role in getting patients to return.
When asked what would encourage patients to rescheduled delayed care, respondents said they were looking for communication about safety from their physicians first and then the CDC. Still, just 14 percent of individuals with employer-based insurance surveyed by HRI said they had received health information from their health system during the pandemic. As a trusted source, providers have an opportunity to better communicate with their patients during the pandemic.
The Rapid Connectivity between Healthcare and Technology.
Another critical area for development and focus for leaders will be the intersection of healthcare and technology. Healthcare is the top industry driving the U.S. economy, followed by the technology sector. The intersection of healthcare and technology, coupled with the best system implementation experience, is a winning combination for the health systems to dominate and stay relevant in the industry.
Traditional operational models characterized by highly structured hierarchies and siloed information have proven ineffective in an increasingly interconnected world. The future will demand a different approach, decentralizing authority and instead, building processes that augment a leader’s decision-making ability based on a broader understanding of the needs of the organization and its staff and patients.
Other top 2021 healthcare technology initiatives for C-suite leaders include:
- Technology enabling virtual care, mobile initiatives, and remote patient monitoring.
- Foundation technology emerges aligned with every organization’s expansion strategy.
- Healthcare leaders need to rethink their physical expansion strategy.
- Operational excellence masks itself as another way to say “cost-cutting.”
- Providers must make strategic cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) decisions.
- Administrators emphasize clinician satisfaction.
- Information security risk exposure tops all priorities.
Changes Ahead for Academic Leaders Too.
For a long time, colleges and universities have struggled with educating more nurses and physicians due to economic challenges facing students. Yet, they are the backbone of our healthcare workforce and will likely see growing demand as the pandemic helped to shed light on healthcare professions.
As the response to the COVID-19 pandemic restricted in-person activity, medical schools had to invent new ways to educate out of necessity. Some of those innovative methods may have staying power that goes well beyond the pandemic, reshaping how tomorrow's healthcare workers are trained. These include:
- A more holistic approach to healthcare education. This is essential to better equip practitioners for moments of trauma and assist them in maintaining their psychological well-being.
- Palliative care requires a specialized skill set. Professionals with this background are trained to improve the quality of life for patients with life-threatening illnesses—by treating their physical pain and managing their mental and spiritual stress.
- A new emphasis on public health. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, medical schools have created electives giving medical students the chance to engage with the public health response. Learners also served as evidence-based ambassadors for the population at large.
- Real-time curriculum adaptation. The pandemic helped cement the shift to a philosophy of really focusing on the role of the healthcare worker in reasoning through ambiguous and unknown problems as the focus of education, rather than teaching students that the role was to memorize a body of knowledge that was already in existence and good enough for what usually happens.
- Potential to reevaluate graduation requirements. When the workforce proved to be overwhelmed in certain hot spots, states called on medical schools to graduate their fourth-year students early to bolster the response. The measures required navigating somewhat cumbersome red tape but demonstrated that move could be an option in the future.
- Changes in residency selection. The pandemic caused the cancellation of most away or visiting rotations. That could create a more level playing field going forward since not all students can access such experiences.
Healthcare systems and enterprises will need to focus on securing innovative leaders or developing their in-house executives to ensure a leadership team equipped to drive transformation. Leaders must continue to learn and grow from failures and look anywhere for innovative ideas, including leveraging partnerships and collaboration.
Cross Country Healthcare has partnered with leading healthcare organizations in building a future-ready leadership team. To learn more about how we can support your workforce goals and objectives, contact us today. In addition, healthcare leaders can request a download our extensive, evidence-based guide – Forever Altered: Adapting to a Post-Pandemic Healthcare Landscape – to help navigate the road to rebuilding and reaching higher levels of success.