Masterclass: How Leading Health Systems Are Organized and Governed

Posted By The Academy

July 28, 2023

Get a thorough “X-ray” of a LHS, including the latest statistics on size, annual revenue, and other key indicators, as well as a breakdown of governance and key decision-maker roles.

Takeaways for Industry on LHS Differentiators

1. Leading Health Systems are the largest and most sophisticated healthcare provider organizations in the country but they’re also incredibly diverse. In positioning products and services, recognize that Leading Health Systems needs are often more complex than at smaller hospitals and systems, and their strategic interests tend to be farther along the innovation curve. That said, selling and deploying into Leading Health Systems at scale often requires a greater customization approach and product delivery model than is typical in many other industries.

2. Leading Health Systems are not just large healthcare providers; they are also large employers. How a product or service benefits patient care is only part of what they will evaluate. Impact of new industry products or partnerships on the health system’s workforce is hugely important; do not neglect this consideration in product development or outreach.

3. Leading Health Systems continue to grow—despite their size already, many have plans to get even bigger. The products and services that you offer must be able to scale. Prepare for changing executive relationships and new strategic priorities as M&A activity occurs.​

4. Leading Health Systems are leaders in discovery, research, and innovation. Many Leading Health Systems will be open to and excited by the prospect of partnering on or investing in products, technologies, or services at the frontiers of healthcare delivery.​

Takeaways for Industry on LHS Governance

5. A health system’s degree of centralization and standardization strongly influences who makes decisions and how those decisions are made. However, health systems approach “systemness” in different ways. Understand organizational structure before approaching a health system, especially since health system C-suite roles are evolving, to ensure you reach the right decision-makers.​

6. Decision-making at Leading Health Systems tends to be collaborative and matrixed, and “chief” titles do not necessarily imply that person has authority to sign off on a purchase or partnership decision. Develop a plan to build engagement with multiple health system leaders—and for sales cycles to be longer as a result.

7. New executive hires, board members, and board committees are often indicative of Leading Health Systems’ most important strategic priorities. Pay attention to how leadership and governance ranks are evolving at different systems to ensure your products/services are positioned to meet emerging needs.​

Takeaways for Industry on LHS Finances and Strategic Priorities

8. Leading Health Systems have long run on very tight margins, which have only been pressured further by COVID-19, labor shortages, supply chain issues, and rising inflation rates. Despite being in a post-pandemic world, LHS continue to have limited capital for investment, as new concerns about long-term reductions in patient demand and workforce burnout compound evergreen financial challenges such as complex revenue cycle management and high labor costs. Recognize these economic realities and showcase your understanding of the complexities of health system finances when speaking with them. You should also expect that Leading Health Systems will bring considerable scrutiny to any investment decision and need to see demonstrated near and long-term value. 

9. Though Leading Health Systems are healthcare providers and community stewards, they are also businesses that must remain solvent to meet that mission. Do not expect that improvement in patient outcomes or community health alone will be sufficient to get widescale investment in your product. Clear financial ROI, ease of implementation, and high operational efficiency (e.g., ease of solution scalability) are generally more important considerations.

10. Leading Health Systems recognize they must balance budgetary restraint with continued investment to remain competitive. To the extent possible, orient your solution towards the priority areas where Leading Health Systems report they plan to focus next year, including cost containment, data & analytics, workforce burden reduction and wellbeing support, efficiency, and site of care shifts. ​


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