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Video and text: More diversity, please, in C-Suite


Ruth Brinkley,  R.N., the president and CEO of KentuckyOne Health, talks about why more diversity is needed in healthcare management for both clinical and business reasons.

Ms. Brinkley has become a role model for minorities aspiring to work in hospital management. She delivered an address on the subject at this year’s American College of Healthcare Executives Congress on Healthcare Leadership in Chicago.

She says, among other things: The short answer is that disparities and diversity in healthcare are more important than ever before. I’m sure you expected me to say that, but let me tell you why. Our country is more diverse than ever in terms of ethnicity, in terms of racial background and religiosity, so we have to understand each other better, especially in the helping and the healing professions like healthcare. We have to understand our customers, who are changing. The demographics also are changing. …”


“What immediately comes to mind is the makeup of our boards of directors, the makeup of our executive teams, our healthcare professionals. Now, I will grant you that sometimes finding people from varied ethnic groups who are health professionals or [are qualified for] boards is not easy. Typically, everybody is looking for the same people. So we have to figure out a way to cast a broader net and to really pay attention to the people who might not necessarily have everything you need, or to growing our own from within the ranks of our own organizations. That’s what leadership succession planning is all about.”

Hospital execs’ biggest 10 problems

It’s no surprise in a general way that an annual survey of the American College of Healthcare Executives has found that hospital executives said their biggest concern in 2014 was their institutions’ financial challenges. Of more interest is how they ranked their top 10 challenges:


  1. Financial challenges
  2. Healthcare reform implementation
  3. Governmental mandates
  4. Patient safety and quality
  5. Care for the uninsured/underinsured
  6. Patient satisfaction
  7. Physician-hospital relations
  8. Population-health management
  9. Technology
  10. Personnel shortages

It’s interesting that population-health management is still so low considering the inexorable move to risk contracts. The execs are just trying to get through the year, and many will be retired by the time that risk contracts became the major game in town.

Within  financial challenges, hospital CEOs ranked Medicaid reimbursement, bad debt and decreasing inpatient volume as their top concerns.

Perhaps surprisingly, Fierce Healthcare noted, “Of all financial concerns, emergency department (ED) overuse was ranked lowest, despite reports that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has led to an influx of ED visits.”



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