Skip to content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

Collaborating to Lead Healthcare in 2018: Highlights from CHEF Annual Meeting

Author: Linda J. Mast, PhD, Director, CHEF
Program Director, MHA and MHA Competency-Based
Walden University

February 20, 2018

Attendees at the CHEF 42nd Annual Meeting had the opportunity to hear from an exceptional panel of leaders in the healthcare industry share their perspectives on this year’s theme:  Collaborating to Lead Healthcare in 2018.  A.J Wilhelmi, President and CEO of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association moderated the session with keynote panel presenters, Deborah J. Bowen, FACHE, CAE, President and CEO of ACHE, Joseph J. Fifer, FHFMA, CPA, President and CEO of HFMA, Adrienne White-Faines, CEO of the American Osteopathic Association, and Paula Wilson, President and CEO of Joint Commission Resources/Joint Commission International.

Not surprisingly, the moderator found consensus among the panel presenters regarding the continuing fast pace of change. The challenge is balancing expectations with the ability to keep up with the pace.  Fifer and Wilson spoke to the history of growth in GDP that goes to healthcare. Wilson encouraged the audience to reflect on recent history and the belief that percent of GDP going to healthcare would never exceed 12%, and now we are at 18% without signs of it slowing down.  White-Faines expanded on the discussion with a compelling commentary on leadership demands for the future of healthcare. She emphasized that there is a strong convergence of both social problems and health problems that is not a hospital-based problem at all.  White-Faines and Wilson led a dialogue on the problems of healthcare being community-based problems.  Future collaborations to lead health care initiatives need to consider the reality that people are aging in place. Policies need to catch up to provide allocation of Medicare funding to maintain community-based services.  Overall, panelists agreed the U.S. public policy on aging needs improvement. Wilson summarized by stating that “we are bad at end of life and beginning of life”.

The CHEF Communications Committee leveraged technology using a texting feature to bring questions from the audience forward to Moderator Wilehmli and the panelists.  One question led to an energized discussion among the panelists: “What are your concerns about the growing trend in consolidation”?  The continuation of a fragmented industry and payment incentives that are not aligned framed a conversation about the need to really talk about the total cost of care and impact on work productivity and overall quality of life.  Fifer and Bowen shared their perspectives on the need to focus more on addressing the frustration of employers and the need to collaborate more with employer groups.  Wilson commented that we will continue to need more physician extenders. She went further to really challenge our views of healthcare leadership much further than ever before and ask ourselves if we are doing the right work.  Some of the star realities she pointed out are that healthcare organizations are not known as career accelerators. She emphasized that we need more interprofessional collaboration. She pushed our thinking further with a proposal that we need to be less optimistic and need to have more comfort with maintaining humility of worrying about what can go wrong and what makes bad things happen.

Panelists agreed that we need to look at entrepreneurs with technology start- ups to understand what people want.  Examples included virtual visits, virtual coaching and new opportunities for partnerships.  Collaboration ideas presented included enhanced data interoperability, innovations to break down silos and reduce redundancies, and exploring new opportunities for biomedical research collaboration.  A texted question from the audience asked for comments on the Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway- Chase initiatives and the future of big data applications. Bowen commented that while it may be too early to speculate on the impact of the Amazon- Berkshire Hathaway-Chase collaborations, that we can anticipate expansion of potentially disruptive technology such as artificial intelligence to reduce errors.

In closing, Moderator Wilhelmi asked each of the panelists to reflect on their advice on effective leadership for 2018 and beyond.  White-Faines made a powerful call for the courage and communication on a new level to reach diverse constituents.  White-Faines summarized that ultimately, we need to keep disparities of health in the forefront and frame our efforts by asking the question “who’s left out?”  Bowen made a compelling closing commentary on what makes senior leadership successful.  She emphasized that senior leaders need to engage and become comfortable to disagree. She made the point that willingness to disagree leads to more engaged collaboration and ultimately innovation that will drive the innovation needed to keep pace with changes in the healthcare landscape.

The keynote panel presentation was an excellent and thought- provoking way to kick off 2018 and keep CHEF members energized for the future.  Heading out from the meeting, it was wonderful to hear many conversations recapping the panelists’ message. Most often heard was lively exchanges on the “C” s of the presentation:  Collaboration, Communication and Courage.  What an inspiring evening!

Endnote from Dr. Linda J. Mast:  Deborah Bowen’s insights on getting senior leadership engaged and willing to disagree brought to mind a classic study published in the Harvard Business Review that our CHEF members my want to explore:  Coutu, D. (2004) Putting leaders on the couch. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

Learn More about the partnership benefits available to you through CHEF

Back to top