Insights from Scottsdale: A look toward the future of Healthcare


Harry Greenspun, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer, Managing Director, Health Solutions

Korn Ferry

May 1, 2018

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I’ve been attending the Scottsdale Institute’s spring meeting for nearly a decade and it never disappoints. Bringing together executives from some of the largest and most prestige healthcare organizations, the atmosphere is remarkably candid, as panels discuss their greatest goals and challenges. This year, I was struck by some particularly interesting points:


The transition to value is real and it is dramatically impacting how care is delivered.  Nearly all the institutions present were pursuing value-based care, either through contracting, joint ventures, or via their own health plans. As a result, as their P&L’s aligned, so did their incentives.  Consequently, they were fundamentally changing how they operated.


Culture issues can be significant barriers. As technological problems are solved, cultural barriers emerge. For example, enabling self-scheduling for patients is not hard, but getting providers to accept it is. 


The biggest cultural change is understanding the customer. Historically, health systems often viewed physicians as their customer. Now those systems, their physicians, and entire workforce, must be focused on the patient/consumer as the customer.


Looking to other industries. As healthcare evolves, organizations are increasingly looking for ideas and talent from other industries. While healthcare often cannot compete in terms of compensation, it can offer new talent a compelling and rewarding mission.


Failing fast is hard. While the notion of “failing fast” has become quite popular in the innovation world, it can be quite difficult in healthcare. It requires transparency and resilient people who can learn from failure and adversity.


Changes in strategy require changes in organization. With the ambitious transformation many systems are pursuing, they have had to reorganize and restructure to align their people with their strategy. The shift from inpatient to ambulatory care has been a central area of focus, requiring changes in governance and structure to support growth and move from regional to divisional models.


Scale is a double-edged sword. On one hand, getting larger can enable greater leverage, challenges remain operating at the local level where healthcare is delivered. 


Mental health is finally getting noticed. In the past, since mental health services were poorly reimbursed, few organizations operated significant services. However, with the shift to value, the impact of mental health issues on outcomes can’t be ignored, so systems are rapidly expanding mental and behavioral health programs.


Outsiders are being eyed with interest and suspicion. As mentioned, outside industries hold valuable lessons for healthcare. At the same time, many of those industries are moving into healthcare as disrupters. The concern among traditional providers is that these new entrants do not share their underlying mission and may skim off the highest margin services. Systems operating safety net hospitals and staffing trauma centers are particularly concerned.