Critical Elements of a Healthcare Human Capital Strategy

What should be in a healthcare human capital strategy? And how can you align that healthcare strategy with the business strategy? What are the implications for the workforce?  Axiom Consulting Partners’ Susanna Mlot, Partner, shares her perspectives on what every healthcare organization should be keeping its eye on to ensure alignment.

A lot of healthcare organizations, and we recognize that there are all varieties – small, standalone community hospitals, large complex multi-billion-dollar healthcare systems, academic medical centers; so many different flavors of healthcare organizations. But when you look across all those flavors, a lot of them think that they have business strategies in place and they really don’t. They have great operating strategies. They know what they need to deliver in terms of margin in a given year. They know what their census projections are likely to look like quarter to quarter, maybe not year over year, but certainly for a given year, et cetera.

And yet taking that and translating in it into a business strategy that says this is how in fact we are going to be different and need to be different and position ourselves differently relative to the competition we face both in our locale, our region or in a particular set of specialties, sometimes is a less than it needs to be. The biggest gap, though, is the distance between that set of decisions and choices and positioning and how that translates into a human capital strategy, and losing sight of the fact that there needs to be very tight alignment between the two.

And so for the next, I’d say five years in healthcare, there are a few things that ought to be in every human capital plan for every healthcare organization. And obviously it’s going to need to have different nuance, focus and flavor. But one of them, given the rate of change in the industry, is becoming transformation masters. There isn’t any aspect of any healthcare organization that isn’t undergoing some kind of change and there are all kinds of models and frameworks, but really translating that into a playbook that brings the right stakeholders together, helps leaders deliver the right kind of messaging, and helps an organization migrate through a change in a very planful, methodical way, measuring the effects of that change very rarely, almost never happens in the organizations we’ve served and the clients we talk to who are struggling with these challenges.

Another one is understanding what the workforce of the future is likely to consist of as there are jobs in healthcare that people can’t even conceive of yet, and nobody’s really spending time thinking about. HR needs to be the facilitator of those conversations and thinking about the impact of technology and working closely with the IT and innovation functions to understand what the impact on work is going to be, what the impacts on licensing changes and requirements are going to be in different kinds of specialties and so forth. So those are just two examples that every healthcare organization should be keeping its eye on and be building into a human capital strategy.

Transcript edited for clarity.

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