Top Healthcare Trends for 2016

Top Healthcare Trends for 2016
Marketing Director

As the saying goes, change is the only constant and this is especially true in the healthcare industry. I recently participated in HRO Today magazine’s “Trends Impacting Healthcare Executives in 2016” webinar, presented by B.E. Smith and AMN Healthcare. The webinar covered the findings from B.E. Smith’s latest annual Healthcare Leadership Intelligence Report, which surveyed nearly 1,200 healthcare leaders across four topics: industry trends, workforce recruitment and retention, leadership and career. B.E. Smith’s findings suggest the healthcare industry is experiencing another year of rapid changes.

The following are my top key trends from their report.

The Changing Healthcare Landscape

B.E. Smith’s report found that healthcare leaders are getting more comfortable with rapid change, with two-thirds having an optimistic outlook for 2016, an improvement from last year. Despite the optimism about the future of healthcare, financial pressure and government regulations are considered the greatest disrupters to success. As the industry continues to adapt to value-based care, population health management remains a key focus for change. Indeed, B.E. Smith’s report found that half of executives said their organization is implementing a population health strategy or already has one in place.

Employee Engagement Remains Key

Employee engagement is of high interest in 2016 as it can affect retention for healthcare employers. It’s no coincidence that the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) selected engagement as the central theme for its 2016 annual conference. The good news is that engagement trends appear to be on the rise, with 70 percent of B.E. Smith’s respondents believing their employees are “actively engaged.” Physician engagement, however, remains an area of deep concern. Physicians are frustrated with electronic health records (EHRs), new administrative burns such as ICD-10 coding, and the overall direction of medicine. Healthcare employers will have to address physicians’ concerns in order to keep this sector of the industry’s workforce engaged.

Shortage of Experienced Healthcare Leadership

The healthcare industry is experiencing a shortage of experience leadership for a variety of reasons. Baby boomers are either retiring or transitioning into interim roles. To make matters worse, the average turnover of healthcare CEOs has increased. Strategic planning, employee and physician engagement and community relationships are the top three factors impacted by the increased CEO turnover, according to B.E. Smith’s respondents. The difficulty in finding qualified candidates is leading many organizations to look outside of healthcare for experienced leaders. Additionally, physician leadership is also critical for the future, as Dr. David Nash explained during the National Association Medical Staff Services (NAMSS) 2014 Educational Conference.

Innovative Workforce Strategies for Highly Competitive Market

Healthcare is experiencing a shift in the workforce dynamic. The labor market is experienced heightened competition in many key positions, with 33 percent of survey respondents stating access to high quality talent is their top workforce challenge. Retaining healthcare executives is also a challenge, with 90 percent of executives reporting they have been approached with a job opportunity in the past year. Healthcare employers will have to find innovative retention and recruitment solutions in order to hold on to quality talent. Healthcare organizations have already adopted new methods for meeting the industry’s recruitment challenges, with 64 percent of survey respondents reporting social media plays a significant role in their recruitment process.

Cultural Change is Critical for Recruitment

Culture is an important focus because it has become a market differentiator. In fact, healthcare executives identified brand/culture as the top factor in recruitment in this year’s report. Culture, however, doesn’t change quickly and represents a long-term commitment. While a healthcare organization’s culture should be a catalyst for recruitment and employee engagement, it’s also critical to align culture with industry objectives such as value-based care and the shift to population health. “Organizations pursue population health management when leadership views it as a key initiative that will help the organization achieve its highest priority goals such as improving quality, improving access or differentiating itself in the market,” Brian Drozdowicz, Senior Vice President of Population Health at Caradigm, states in an article.

New Leadership Skills and Competencies

The changing healthcare dynamic requires a new set of leadership skills and competencies. Leadership competencies and the speed of change are the top two concerns keeping executives awake at night, according to B.E. Smith’s intelligence report. Leadership skill sets are evolving to meet the industry’s current challenges. The top three most important executive attributes for 2016 are vision/strategy, integrity and communication, according to respondents. These qualities must be factored into development programs.

Increased Need for Leadership Development

Physicians and healthcare executives are looking for career opportunities, which means organizations should invest in leadership development. Career development programs are critical for the future and are great inhibitors for turnover. Successful healthcare systems prioritize leadership development and succession plans. The following are seven steps to develop a successful leadership education program from Lehigh Valley Health Network, as featured in a 2014 FierceHealthare article:

  1. Define a culture of leadership within the organization.
  2. Assess internal and external needs and spark an energy for change.
  3. Align the desired changes with the culture of leadership.
  4. Identify the high-potential talent pool.
  5. Develop and implement an integrated leadership curriculum.
  6. Engage senior leaders so they are personally involved.
  7. Evaluate the effectiveness of the leadership program.

How does your healthcare organization stand among these trends?

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