Healthcare Business Trends

CEOs Meet to Discuss Critical Healthcare Trends

March 23, 2018 9:29 am

Volatility is the only thing that’s certain about today’s healthcare environment. Consequently, healthcare organizations continue to wrestle with how best to navigate constantly evolving dynamics, including shrinking payment margins, the quest for value, and the need to deliver a more consumer-centric care experience.

In the white paper 2017 CEO Forum: Meeting Healthcare Headwinds with Innovation, Navigant shares top insights from its Fall 2017 gathering of senior healthcare leaders. Within the meeting, executives from around the country offered their perspectives on healthcare trends, including sharing their experiences, discussing roadblocks, and developing recommendations for future work.

One of the challenges in realizing top performance amid today’s ambiguity is that there is no clear roadmap for success. Although healthcare organizations want to improve quality while reducing costs—and thrive despite narrow margins and rising expenses—how they do that can vary. What works for some may not work for others, and what is anticipated to be effective may end up not being as valuable as predicted.

It is in this context that the Navigant Transformation Institute brought together C-suite executives to discuss current trends and best practices. In Fall 2017, the company gathered senior leaders from more than 200 hospitals for a meeting in Washington, D.C. The white paper delves into several of the topics covered during this dynamic event.

Assessing the current and future regulatory environment. The white paper provides an overview of a lively presentation by healthcare policy expert Rodney Whitlock, PhD. Not only did Whitlock talk about what happened in 2017, but he outlined what organizations can expect for 2018 and beyond, especially regarding Medicare and Medicaid. A key theme was the volatility of the regulatory market and how organizations can move forward despite unpredictability.

A Q&A with senior healthcare leaders. The white paper reviews an executive panel moderated by Jeff Goldsmith, PhD, a futurist and national adviser for Navigant. The panel, which featured Howard Kern, president and CEO, Sentara Healthcare, and David Entwistle, president and CEO, Stanford Health Care, covered a range of topics, including how to operate a high-performing, provider-sponsored health plan; the need to standardize quality and deliver it consistently across health system facilities; and how to fully leverage the strengths of an organization to deliver better-quality, more patient-centric care.

Optimizing IT investments. The white paper addresses the idea that even though electronic health record technology has become ubiquitous, organizations are still not using these systems to their full potential. The piece debates why that is and delves into the fact that organizations must get smarter about how they use these tools. “Similar to how people struggle to use their iPhones to the fullest potential, we also struggle to extract the full potential of EHRs,” said Barclay E. Berdan, FACHE, CEO of Texas Health Resources.

Getting ROI from physician acquisition. Most of the attendees at the CEO Forum indicated they are pursuing physician practice integration in some fashion, whether that is through acquisition or developing partnerships throughout their service areas. The movement to employ physicians appears to be waning for some organizations, and the paper talks about the pros and cons of this concept and how to choose the best option for an organization’s specific needs.

“It’s about weighing the total cost of care and proper balance between employing and not employing free-standing physicians,” said HealthPartners (Minnesota) president and CEO Andrea Walsh. “Will the cost of employment be of benefit to subsidize the practice?”

In addition, “Many successful hospitals and health systems have been following an implicit ‘must-have’ strategy regarding population health investments, yet care-delivery improvements have been illusive,” said David Burik, managing director and leader of Navigant’s payer/provider consulting division. “Now more than ever, there’s a minimal margin of error for existing and future IT, physician practices, and other value-based investments that don’t generate a positive return.”

A theme that runs through the white paper is the importance of information gathering—whether that involves engaging with consumers to determine their needs, reaching out to other industries to learn about their quality improvement and cost-reduction strategies, or learning from colleagues about how they are tackling some of the tough issues that healthcare organizations face.

Laura S. Kaiser, president and CEO, SSM Health, said, “We need to learn from industries like retail that have a better understanding of their customers, as well as work with payers, pharmacies, and others to develop and scale transformational solutions.”

Navigant’s CEO Forum is a prime example of the value that comes from sharing ideas with colleagues across the country and what healthcare organizations can accomplish despite ever-increasing volatility.

Read the white paper at

For another perspective on the event, listen to HFMA’s “Voices in Healthcare Finance” podcast interview with Navigant’s Managing Director David Burik at

Navigant Consulting, Inc. (NYSE: NCI) is a specialized, global professional services firm that helps clients take control of their future. Navigant’s Healthcare segment is comprised of consultants, former provider administrators, clinicians, and other experts with decades of strategy, operational/clinical consulting, managed services, revenue cycle management, and outsourcing experience. Professionals collaborate with hospitals and health systems, physician enterprises, payers, government, and life sciences entities, providing strategic, performance improvement, and business process management solutions that help them meet quality and financial goals. More information about Navigant can be found at


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