Health care is evolving thanks to new discoveries in science, technology, and changing customer demands. Tack on the struggles and opportunities the COVID-19 pandemic presented and you have not only new industry trends but a need for an entire mindset shift as a health care executive.
In a recent interview, Jennifer M. Olson, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Children’s Minnesota, shared her insights into trends impacting health care executives and what health care executives need to do to adapt to these changes and demands.
CPED: What trends are you seeing in the health care industry’s near future?
OLSON: I believe we will see more and better access to health care over the next 10 years, with a rapid increase in self-diagnostics and personalized medical and care therapies at more convenient times and locations, including care at home. Longer term, we’ll see much more artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and automation that will transform our ability to drive both health and care in any setting.
I have a two-fold promise. A promise to my current employees to upskill them to fit the workforce needs we are seeing. Then to the future generation, to help people understand the likely needs of the future.Jennifer M. Olson, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Children’s Minnesota
CPED: How are these trends transforming both health care and the roles of health care executives and leaders?
OLSON: The health care delivery system is no longer bricks and mortar in an ivory tower. To respond to this change, health care executives need to change their mindset about how to manage workforce and operations, evaluate revenue and quality drivers, meet evolving provider expectations, and more. It’s a lot harder to maintain patient privacy with families doing some care at home or on non-encrypted devices. It will be an interesting issue for leaders to solve moving forward.
With the self-diagnostics trend, patients can get the diagnostic information they want cheaper and faster than we can give them in some of our traditional systems. But one thing we can offer is a high-quality experience. If we’re patient focused, we need to rethink some of our strategies and enable our processes to work with the data patients are receiving from self-diagnostic tools. We also need to be very aware of the social determinants of health, the inequities of availability of these diagnostics, and the implications for all the patients we serve – not just those who can afford to use them.
With process automation, we need to determine how we optimize where human skill and talent are fundamentally essential, and make sure we’re training and educating for what we will need in the future. As a health care executive, I have a two-fold promise: a promise to my current employees to upskill them or change their positions to fit the workforce needs we are seeing. And then to the future generation, I have to work with talent pipelines, starting in high school or even earlier, to help people understand the likely needs of the future. Through observation of the health care industry and the impacts of COVID these last few years, my concern is that many of these workforce conversations are starting too late.
CPED: How do you foresee digital transformation affecting the roles of health care executives?
OLSON: If you’re aware of digital transformation, if you adopt it, and if you facilitate it within your care delivery systems, you will be ahead of the game. If you don’t, you will be perpetually behind the curve and unable to keep up with the cost and quality demands of our current health care landscape. This is especially hard for rural or smaller systems. The fast pace of digital is making it harder for smaller health systems to survive or serve their patients without collaboration from larger systems with a stronger balance sheet.
CPED: Where do you think health care executives will see big wins in the near future?
OLSON: I foresee significant consolidation in 2023 due to the huge operating losses many health systems are facing. For some, that will result in incredible scale. Others will see intense fragmentation, as major players continue to disrupt in niche aspects of the care continuum.
Provider-based health care executives will need reskilling to develop proficiency in three areas: digital technology, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.Jennifer M. Olson, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Children’s Minnesota
CPED: What is one trend you do not see as being successful for the long term?
OLSON: Extensive prior authorization. It used to be that we didn’t need them, and now it’s required too often. The pendulum needs to swing back to the center because it’s preventing timely care far more than it should, and increasingly adding more cost and waste to our systems.
A great example: a child with a cancer diagnosis who needs every single visit in a protocol-driven chemotherapy plan prior-authorized. The treatment plan is protocol-based, and timing is imperative. A delay in any of the visit authorizations can have negative consequences for the child’s outcome. Common sense and the patient’s outcome need to prevail.
CPED: What upskilling or reskilling do you think will be necessary for health care executives and leaders?
OLSON: Provider-based health care executives will need reskilling to develop proficiency in three areas: digital technology, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity, as it pertains to delivering and ensuring clinical excellence. These areas will only grow in importance and executives must have a keen understanding of how all three impact every aspect of a health care delivery system.
CPED: What is your advice for current and future health care executives?
OLSON: Find your purpose and stay true to it. Figure out what matters most to the people you serve and stay focused on achieving a path to a collective vision together. Be curious on the journey.
If you are ready to re-evaluate your strategy, be on the forefront of changing industry trends, and continue to offer top notch patient and employee experience, we can be your partner. Set up a Discovery Session with our health care Solutions Advisor to learn more about how our combination of consulting, coaching, and professional development programs can help you and your health care organization achieve its goals.