“Executive Insight” Report for Healthcare Executives: Insight into Healthcare Economics

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HealthLeaders Media, a division of HCPro, Inc., and Bank of America Merrill Lynch have released a new research report as part of their collaborative “Executive Insight” project, designed to provide healthcare executives with insight into the economics of their industry. It is the third installment of a four-part series, consisting of quarterly buzz surveys on industry topics, Executive Insight reports analyzing the results of each survey and executive Roundtable discussions with senior finance executives from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and top provider organizations.

The report Top Skills for Top Executives analyzes the results of this month’s buzz survey, in which senior leaders from hospitals, health systems, physician organizations and other groups were asked to rank the importance of executive skills and about their willingness to seek outside resources. A total of 153 completed surveys are included in the analysis, which included 58 Senior Leaders.

“Clearly, leaders in the healthcare industry feel that in this time of acquiring, divesting, merging and blending, job No. 1 is adaptability and a strong vision for their organization,” says John Hesselmann, Specialized Industries executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Part of the company’s Global Commercial Banking business, Specialized Industries provides healthcare clients with solutions such as core credit and treasury management, and also helps provide leasing, retirement capabilities and other capital-raising products.

In one of the unexpected takeaways of the survey, the report reveals a preference for so-called “soft” skills over subject expertise; a majority of healthcare leaders cite communication as the most important skill for an executive in the healthcare industry– above medical training, technical knowledge, and even the ability to understand health reform. Also topping the list of executive skills is a vision for transformative cultural change and an ability to set the course for that change.

Seeking external guidance and outsourcing expertise continue to be common leadership practices. Among the top external resources sought by executives are legal services and technology consultants.

“If executives can do something less expensively by hiring a tech consultant, or preserve liquidity by not making a capital investment in information technology, it makes sense to outsource those things,” says Charles Alston, senior vice president and market executive for healthcare at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Respondents were also asked to reflect on their key motivators for financial expertise. The common theme was preparation: long-term financial strategic and capital planning. In today’s healthcare climate, it has become increasingly essential to understand all possible scenarios related to healthcare reform and market shifts that could impact the cost of capital.

The report features an executive spotlight with Kenneth Semmet, President and CEO of MedStar Health, a 10-hospital system serving the Baltimore-Washington area. Semmet helms a patient-focused initiative called MedStar 2020, which plots a transition from acute episodic care to integrated but widely distributed care. The program is rooted in the ideologies of philanthropy and effective communication.

“We often think of ‘communication’ as speaking, but I also think there’s a great opportunity in listening. Our associates have significant ideas about how we can evolve, and we have to create the right structure in the organization to allow them to be heard,” says Semmet.

As a supplement to the “Executive Insight” research, HealthLeaders Media has also launched a dedicated Executive Insight Center microsite on HealthLeadersMedia.com (http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/eic), featuring healthcare business resources and expert analysis.

The next project in the collaboration between HealthLeaders Media and Bank of America Merrill Lynch is scheduled for a September launch and will focus on “Opportunities from Financial Efficiencies.”

From: HealthLeaders Media and BOA Merrill Lynch

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