Health systems arent ready for a shift to patient-centered care, finds survey of CEOs


For U.S. health systems emerging from the pandemic, the promise of patient-centered care is within reach, according to the 2022 Health Systems’ Climate Study. The study finds that health systems are shifting from the system-centered mindset—which left many unprepared to meet patient needs during the pandemic—to a patient-focused approach that will enable them to improve care quality and the patient experience while lowering costs.

Published by the University of Colorado Denver’s Health Administration Research Consortium (HARC), the second annual Health Systems’ Climate Study is a snapshot of healthcare leaders’ goals and plans for 2022. Its findings are the outcome of a survey of 133 U.S. health system CEOs representing $263 billion in revenue and 1.2 million employees. The study aims to equip health system leaders and policymakers with the insights necessary to make smarter strategic decisions.

To shift to a more patient-centered model of care, health system CEOs are employing three main strategies, the study finds:

The study was authored by Jiban Khuntia, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Information Systems and Director of the HARC; Xue Ning, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Management of Information Systems at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and HARC research fellow; and Rulon Stacey, Ph.D., Director of Programs in Health Administration at CU Denver, and chair of the CEO Circle of the International Hospital Federation.

“Shifting to a patient-centered mindset can provide enormous benefits, not only for health systems but also for patients and payors,” says Dr. Jiban Khuntia. “Health system CEOs have the right priorities for creating this ‘win-win-win’ scenario, but what remains to be seen is whether they’re taking the actions necessary to realize the potential of patient-centered care.”

According to the study, health system CEOs are working to improve care quality by prioritizing:

  • Driving decisions with data—88% of CEOs
  • Championing the use of digital technologies—87%
  • Viewing the digital health model as a top disruptor—80%

CEOs are also attempting to level-up patients’ experience by prioritizing the following:

  • Broadening the skills of their existing workforce—90% of CEOs
  • Hiring employees with a broader set of skills—87%
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion among their staff—79%
  • Pursuing partnerships and alliances to address unmet needs —77%

The Health Systems’ Climate Study breaks from the tradition of academic research, with CU Denver’s HARC deciding to publish the results immediately—rather than spend years conducting a formal academic analysis and review.

“Our goal is to meaningfully benefit health systems, and in turn, patients,” said Dr. Rulon Stacey. “We decided to publish the data now, when it is of greater use to academics, practitioners, policymakers and those closely following our healthcare industry.”

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