20% of Healthcare Leaders Would Not Encourage Child to Pursue Healthcare Career

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Healthcare continues to be a growth industry, and its leaders overwhelmingly describe themselves as satisfied in their work, and yet 20% overall and 39% of physician leaders say they would not encourage their children to pursue a career in healthcare. Among other findings in the HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2009 is a consensus across all sectors that Priority 1 is "quality/patient safety," although a third of quality leaders cite leadership support as a major barrier to achieving quality healthcare for all patients. The survey reports overall findings and those based on answers from CEOs, and from C-suiters in finance, technology, health plans, marketing, quality, physician leadership, and community and rural sectors.

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our location isn't appealing to physicians.

Twenty percent of healthcare leaders say they would not encourage their children to pursue a career in healthcare. And physician leaders are even less sanguine: 39% say they would not recommend the industry to their children, according to the HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2009. And they say that even though healthcare continues to be a growth industry, and even though these leaders overwhelmingly describe themselves as satisfied in their work, with just 5% saying they are dissatisfied.

So what is it that troubles them about the state of the industry?

The reasons vary by sector. Healthcare CEOs list as their top reasons: uncertain future (23%), system broken (20%), and too much regulation, interference (18%). Healthcare finance leaders cite uncertain future (20%) followed by a three-way tie at 16% each: high stress level; declining satisfaction, altruism gives way to greed; and too much regulation, interference. Physician leaders' top reasons are poor compensation/reimbursement (25%), system broken (21%), and too much regulation, interference (15%).

Yes, most HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey respondents would encourage their child to follow in their footsteps, but their reasons are divided between the pragmatic and the idealistic: 41% say it's because healthcare is a practical choice with good long-term demand, while 40% note that a healthcare career is rewarding personally or professionally and mention the value of doing good work and serving others.

But while a significant portion of industry leaders would discourage their child from getting mixed up in healthcare, a large percentage would like to see their Uncle Sam get more involved.

Nearly half of all respondents (47%) say that the model that offers the best hope for healthcare involves the government: 25% say government-mandated universal health insurance is the way to go and another 22% say government-funded universal healthcare is the answer. The largest share, though, says consumer-directed healthcare is the best choice (34%).

One area of consensus across all sectors of the industry is with leaders overwhelmingly ranking quality/patient safety as the leading organizational priority. Nearly half (47%) call it Priority No. 1 (followed by just 10% who cited physician recruitment/retention). And 69% include quality among their top three priorities, followed by physician recruitment/retention at 35% and consumer satisfaction at 26% of those who make it one of three top choices.

This patient-centered priority across all sectors suggests an important industry shift.
"Quality and patient safety should be the top priority of any healthcare provider," says Jim Molpus, editor-in-chief for HealthLeaders Media. "But to see such strong support across the board is an indication that momentum toward a more extensive review of outcomes and what they mean for care is gaining momentum. It seems that healthcare providers are finally listening to what employers and patients have been telling them to do for years."

While there is broad agreement on the goal of quality and safety, there are real differences among the leaders. And the survey was designed to discover such differences.
"The value of this cross-sector survey stems from our coverage of and access to leaders across healthcare," says Matt Cann, publisher of HealthLeaders Media. Rather than having one survey for CEOs and another for CFOs, and so on, "we decided to ask some key questions of all the healthcare leaders. And sure enough, our cross-sector analysis reveals not only consensus, but some disconnects as well."

For example, 80% of physician leaders see their organizations' physician staff as slightly or very strong. But only 70% of healthcare CEOs and just 65% of quality leaders would agree.

And while the survey shows an overwhelming consensus that quality /patient safety is the top priority, more than 71% of quality leaders say that financial resources represent a major or moderate barrier to achieving quality healthcare for all patients at their organization. Right behind money come physician support (61%) and workplace culture (58%) as major or moderate barriers. And a third (34%) of quality leaders say leadership support represents a major or moderate barrier to achieving quality healthcare.

Such cross-sector disparity shows up again in how healthcare marketing leaders rate their own marketing compared to how others see it. While the healthcare marketers may seem to be restrained with just 63% saying their organization's marketing is slightly or very strong, others are less generous. Only 41% of CEOs and healthcare leaders overall think their organizations' marketing is strong.

The community and rural healthcare sectors are also represented in the HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2009 in reports that filter data from all sectors.

For example, more than 47% of CEOs at rural facilities say the physician short¬age is having a "strongly negative" impact on their operations, compared with just 25% of CEOs in non-rural areas.
Likewise, nearly 37% of rural physi¬cian leaders cite as their No. 1 recruiting challenge, "our location isn't appealing to physicians." Only 10% of non-rural physician leaders listed that as a major obstacle.

Some physician leaders also see differences based on age. Asked how generational makeup affects practice operations, 22% say there is a substantial impact that affects recruitment, productivity, and practice culture. Still, 23% say there is no impact at all, and 45% say while older and younger physicians have different priorities, they still perform at similar levels. About 10% say it's not an issue because the practice has physicians from the same generation.

And on the matter of difficult physicians, we asked CEOs to give us their assessment, by specialty. A quarter (24%) say orthopedists are "very difficult" to manage, followed by neurologists/neurosurgeons (19%) and cardiologists (18%). Who gets the highest "very easy" to manage score? Hospitalists and pediatricians at 14%.

Background: The HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2009 is an innovative cross-sector survey by HealthLeaders Media that explores issues of importance to the healthcare industry in a new and penetrating way. Building on its coverage of and access to healthcare leaders in multiple sectors across the industry, HealthLeaders Media launched concurrent surveys directed to specific sectors of the industry: CEOs, and top leadership titles in finance, healthcare technology, health plans, marketing, quality, and physicians. In addition, data is extracted from those surveys to produce reports on the community and rural sectors. A total of 1,148 print and electronic surveys were completed in September and October 2008. The sample size allows for a 3.0% margin of error. The results of the HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2009 are presented with analysis in the February issue of HealthLeaders magazine, and in greater detail in reports posted online at http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/industry_survey.

Bob Wertz,
Managing Editor,
bwertz (at) healthleadersmedia (dot) com
781-639-1872 ext 3456.

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