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EPISODE 81: Last summer, DHG's Healthcare practice commissioned a survey of healthcare executives to gain and provide our clients with a deeper understanding of the key issues facing the industry today, and how leaders have adapted their strategies and methodologies to address the changes brought on by the pandemic. This episode dives deeper into the results of this survey and discusses how these themes will be represented at the annual Healthcare Symposium.



[00:00:09] JL: Welcome to today's edition of DHGs GrowthCast. I'm your host, John Locke. And at DHG, our strength lies in our technical knowledge, our industry intelligence and our future focus. We understand business needs and are laser-focused on company goals. In this ever-changing world, DHG's GrowthCast provides insights and thought-provoking conversations on topics and trends that address growth opportunities and challenges in the current and future marketplace. Thanks for joining us as we discuss tomorrow's needs today.

[00:00:42] ANNOUNCER: Views and concepts expressed by today's panelists are their own and not those of Dickson Hughes Goodman LLP. Always consult the advice of your legal and financial professional before taking any action.


[00:00:58] JL: Welcome to GrowthCast. Today, we are going to discuss emerging themes facing healthcare leadership. Our guests today are Kevin Locke and Scott Spohn, leaders of DHG's Healthcare Consulting Practice. Welcome to you both.

[00:01:11] KL: Thank you, John. Great to be with you.

[00:01:13] SS: John. Great to be here, man. Thanks so much.

[00:01:15] JL: So here last summer, DHG's healthcare practice commissioned a survey of more than 80 healthcare executives. So Kevin, what was the objective of this mindset survey this year?

[00:01:26] KL: You know, John, we actually do this survey annually, because we really want to keep a pulse on what's happening in the industry. And this year was no different. In fact, this year, if anything, was even more important, right? As the industry emerged from what really has become two years of a really unique situation with the pandemic, we thought it was even more important this year to just pause and survey so that we could get a better understanding of what are the key issues facing leaders in the industry today that are probably very different than a couple of years ago because of what's been happening in the industry. So that was the purpose of mindsets. It was to capture the key themes, the key issues. What's happening in the industry? And then how do we respond to that? And the mindset survey gave us really good insights relative to that.

[00:02:18] JL: Well, there's no bigger industry when it comes to change than healthcare, for sure. And the leaders have undergone a lot, I know, over the last couple of years. So when you got the results back from the survey, what were some of the major themes that were identified in mindsets?

[00:02:32] KL: You'll hear these themes consistently, John, as we talk today, and candidly, as we continue to evolve in the marketplace every day. But we identified really four key themes. And these themes not only came out of the survey, but they're the things that we're working with our clients on every day and the things that we're hearing in conversation in the marketplace every day. And those four themes are these. First is growth, right? Health systems, physicians, acute care providers, post-acute providers, are all coming out of this really two-year challenging period and saying, "How do we get back to growth? And how do we pursue the right partnerships, and the right relationships, and the right strategies that will allow us to return to growth?" So that's theme number one.

Number two, strategy. Because we had to really tackle the pandemic on a day-to-day basis, we were forced to put some of our strategic initiatives on the backburner and slow them down and pause them a little bit. So as we're emerging now, the need for the opportunity for the urgency around strategic initiatives, strategic priorities be coming back and moving back to the top of the list, that was theme number two.

So theme one, growth. Theme two, strategy. Theme three, value. There was so much conversation pre-pandemic about value-based care, about value-based payments, about care models that incentivize value. And through the gig and through the course of the pandemic, we had to sort of pause some of that conversation. So now, as we reemerge, that's moving back to the top of the list and hopefully gaining momentum because we so much agree with that perspective that we need to drive value into the marketplace. So that was theme number three. And then theme number four is people.

And Scott, I know you're going to jump in here on this, because every year, people – And how we manage people, and how we react to the caregivers, as well as patients and their families this idea, that has become even more important as – These folks have been through two years of just really facing some difficult challenges. So while people is always an important issue, it's even more so this year. And I'll let Scott jump in on that. But growth, strategy, value, people, those were the four key themes emerging from our mindset survey by this year.

[00:05:01] SS: Yeah. Kevin, so two things here. One, you're exactly right. The people side of this has become very interesting and rich from a discussion perspective. Because while people were always an important topic, it has really become a strategic imperative for clients. So I think you would agree with this, is that while we used to talk about that as part of our strategic planning engagements, our overall organizational assessments, our risk assessments, it's gone from a tangential topic, and important but tangential topic, to a central topic. It's one of those things that we talk about at the top of any of these engagements. So that's one point.

The second point is we found these mega themes. No question about it. But I think you'd agree how they intermingle with each other. As we're chatting with our clients, there's not a conversation around strategy that doesn't involve growth, people, and value. And value, there's not a conversation of our own value that doesn't involve growth in people and strategy. So these things play together quite a bit in the market as we move forward. And it really speaks to the challenge that leaders have in really processing through these things. I think you'd agree with that statement as well.

[00:06:21] KL: Yeah, I absolutely do. Well said. And let me just introduce one other idea in terms of the interplay between those four themes. And that is this, that while the last two years have been very challenging, we've learned a lot related to each one of those four themes. And I think as we continue to pull this conversation forward and even start talking about symposium, one of the things that I think you and I Scott are both really excited about is to take the things that we've learned across growth, and strategy, and value, and people and allow that to improve how we do what we do. There's just so much opportunity emerging here to learn from the last couple of years, apply them, and then really help move the industry forward. I think that's what you and I are both really excited about.

[00:07:09] SS: Right. It is profound the paradigm shift. I'm sorry, that's an overly consultant word. The change in thinking, if you will, that's required by these mega themes is many of the things that we knew before or we counted on before. And I'll specifically speak in the people area. Many of those things that we sort of relied on, sort of those old ways of thinking that really served us well in the past, they're different now.

And we'll just take the example of the great resignation, is as we think about that, and then we play that out in our client situations, thinking about that in a new way, is really required. Because if you apply the old lens to what's going on with a great resignation, you'll likely miss the point and miss your opportunity to really figure out how to deal with that from your particular organization's point of view.

[00:08:06] JL: So I love this discussion. And Scott, I got a follow up question that I know you spend a lot of time in the people space. And hearing Kevin talk about these four themes that you're addressing, and we're going to talk more about in the upcoming symposium, my question is simply this, what have you seen as it relates to the impact on kind of the psychological, emotional side of leaders as they address things like growth and strategy? Have they become more tentative? Are they second guessing themselves? What are you seeing out there and hearing from your leaders that you're interacting with relating to all these?

[00:08:44] SS: So, John, it's a great question. And I was just working on some client work last night till late in the evening dealing with this exact issue. And what we're finding is this, is that leaders are becoming aware of that thought I just shared that they can't rely on their old lens, if you will, and how they looked at some of these matters with regards to their people. So they're becoming more aware of that. So your point is spot on. They get a bit more tentative about how they'd approach these situations. And so they're looking for new ways to try to understand the tone and tenor inside their organization. And that could be around agility as they look at change. It could be around burnout as they try to deal with that pervasive issue that really is agnostic to industry. And then third is I think about confidence as they look forward into the future.

So they're really looking for concrete ways to try to really understand what's going on, because I think they have that belief and that knowledge that a legacy lens that they would put on these situations isn't necessarily going to serve them all that well as they point forward. So really searching for those what I might call data-driven answers to these people related questions, because they really have a understanding that they can't rely on their legacy lens at looking at these things.

[00:10:10] JL: Yeah, I love that term, legacy lens, because we're needing to encourage leaders at all levels to have a significant shift in their mindset moving forward. And I know that's a big part of some of the objectives are with this upcoming and healthcare symposium. And Kevin, I know, this is something that we've had many years here at DHG. How will these themes be represented throughout this upcoming symposium?

[00:10:33] KL: So as we return to symposium, and you mentioned it, John, we ran 22 years straight of DHG healthcare symposium. And like many others, had to take a two-year pause in the live session. And we're very excited to get back to on-site interactions with our colleagues, with our clients, with our friends in the industry. And so we're getting back to that this year. And we will be using the four key themes from mindset that we just talked about, growth strategy, value, and people as the main learning blocks through the course of symposium. So we really have been very intentional about taking those themes and allowing them to drive the learning blocks, drive the content, drive the key themes that we will be discussing at symposium. And so you'll see four main tent learning blocks, one each around growth, strategy, value, and people. And then you'll see those four themes drive even into our breakout session so that we can unpack them further and start to explore how we respond to those things. What are some of the action items that we should be addressing relative to those things?

So we've been very intentional about, first of all, learning via the survey. What's most important in the industry today? And then grabbing those themes and pulling them down into how we've built the content for symposium. We're very excited about that conversation in June.

[00:11:59] JL: And I'm sure this doesn't come without an incredible overall theme, right? I know you two, as consultants, are going to come up with some great overriding theme here. So can you tell us what the big theme is?

[00:12:11] KL: I will unfold the big theme. And then I will let Scott unpack it, because he and I are both very excited about it, as is our whole team that is now working on content that will be delivered in June. But that mega theme is solutioning for a better tomorrow. And you've heard some of that already. Right, John? That what we're really looking to do is take a quick look back on what we've discovered, what we've learned, how we've improved through the course of the two-year pandemic, and then very quickly shift that and say, "How do we use that to create new ideas, new solutions, such that moving forward, we're even better?" And so we've tried to roll all that into the main theme that we're calling solutioning for a better tomorrow.

Scott, I'm sure I didn't unpack that quite right. But what are your thoughts relative to that?

[00:13:05] SS: Well, I feel like we had two years to try to figure this out. So we forgot a lot of energy around it. I think you characterized it really well. What we wanted to express is that, "Hey, we think there is a better tomorrow. We have learned a lot over the last two years. I think the challenge for all of us is to take those learnings and really put them into play. It would be easy to sort of take those, put them on the shelf, and move forward. So it's how do you take what you've learned, unpack it, and really put it into play. I think that's the theme we wanted to get to. We had this optimism. But we knew there's some hard work that really precedes the benefit of that optimism.

And so we're good consultants. So John, we made up a word. So we came up with solutioning. And the idea was this. And these are some thought leaders that Kevin and I have followed for a while. But we really followed the work of Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth as we really thought about two things. One, mindset, and then sort of this idea of passion and persistence. And so the mindset being that with the right mindset, growth in anything is possible and really leveraging some of that work. But then combining it to say that, with that right mindset, if you add passion and perseverance, that you can really develop the grit to work your way through and find the answers to these challenging problems that we have inside the healthcare industry.

And as Kevin and I chatted about it, as we were working through this, is those problems haven't gone away. So the pandemic, maybe they exacerbated some. Maybe they covered up a few. But those challenges to the industry, systemic challenges to the industry, are still there. And to find the answer for those is going to take all those three things we just talked about, the right mindset, a lot of passion for figuring those things out, and perseverance. Because some things – Our first shots at solving these things, they may not work. And so having that perseverance to continue through those is going to be really important. So solutioning is a made-up word. But it is really that combination of mindset, and passion, and perseverance. And we'll play with that all the way through symposium as we go through the content Kevin just described.

[00:15:33] JL: Oh, I love that. That's great. You're, in essence, teaching people to be resilient, right? Create focus and be resilient. That's wonderful. Well, as we head towards the symposium, I'm sure people are thinking about traveling again and wanting to get out and meet people. So what can they expect to get out of this upcoming symposium? What's the value proposition for this year?

[00:15:58] KL: As always, we think that – And our goal with every symposium is to combine a handful of things. And we think we'll be able to do that again this year. First is learning. We think there are just some real opportunities to pull those themes forward and learn from each other. And so we create a very collaborative environment, where some of our thought leaders share their ideas, some of our clients share their ideas, some third-party folks that we have really good relationships in the industry share their ideas. So that's kind of number one. What can folks expect from symposium is really good opportunities to learn from thought leaders across the industry.

The second thing that folks can expect is this idea of collaboration. We are just so much better when we share lessons learned, best practices. What happened? What do we expect? So first is learning. Second is collaboration. And then third, we're going to have some fun. It has been a while since we've been able to convene and get together in an environment like this and really just encourage each other. And so we're looking to create that atmosphere with symposium as well. And so if we can create that balance of learning together, of collaborating together, and then simply having some fun together, we think symposium is going to be a success.

[00:17:24] SS: You totally just stole all my thunder, everything that I could have said about symposium, just totally out the door. Kevin, that was super well said. There's nothing I could add to that. The only thing that I would say is, as you're thinking about that collaboration, as you're should think about that exchange of ideas, this is a provider-focused event. And so it is about the work, the hard work, a healthcare transformation that we're doing in the provider space. And so it is meant to really create a connection for folks as well. So everything Kevin said is spot on. My only answer to that is our focus around this event. And it really goes in. And, Kevin, I think you could speak to this, too. It's how we curate that event, is it's really based on those providers that are really working through what we refer to – Had have referred to for a long time is that hard work, a healthcare transformation. That's who we really create symposium for and hopefully deliver a really great experience for them. And all the things Kevin just said, learning, collaboration and fun.

[00:18:30] KL: And you know, John, another thing that folks can expect this year, which is unique to this particular event, is our colleagues from BKD. As you know, we announced a potential, or possible, or expected merger of equals with BKD that will be effective June 1st. Symposium rolls around mid-June. And so we're very intentionally trying to bring the expertise of their healthcare practice into symposium this year, which will include their thought leadership. It will include legacy BKD clients. It will include some perspectives that come from the legacy BKD healthcare practice, as well as their clients and contacts in the marketplace. So we're really excited about that, that we get this opportunity immediately after the June 1st effective date to bring those two firms together, to bring those two healthcare practices together, to bring those two client bases together and create additional learnings across this symposium platform. So we're just really excited about that this year as well.

[00:19:29] JL: Yeah, another unique element to this year's symposium. So I'm sure there's a lot of listeners out there that are going, "Hey, I kind of like to check this out." And I know it's an invitation-only event. So Scott, how does someone obtain an invitation to this year's symposium?

[00:19:45] SS: Well, John, I'm really glad you asked, because it's really not a whole lot of fun if we have a whole roomful of nobody. So yes, you can – It's really very simple. So this event is highly curated for providers, our provider leaders. And so all you have to do is go to You can find all kinds of information about the event. But there's a button at the bottom that says Request Invite. And if you just push that button and follow the prompts, we can get you through the process and hopefully see you down in Florida for symposium June 14th through the 16th.

[00:20:24] JL: Sounds like a great time. Kevin, Scott, thank you so much for being with us today. I know you're deep into the planning stages of this, and you're going to have a lot of great information for healthcare leaders throughout the country at this symposium. So thanks for being with us and sharing some insights today.

[00:20:40] KL: Thank you, John.

[00:20:41] SS: John, our pleasure.

[00:20:42] JL: And thank you for joining us on today's episode of GrowthGuest with Kevin Locke and Scott Spohn of DHG's Healthcare Consulting Practice. I'm your host, John Locke, and I look forward to reconnecting with you soon on another episode of DHG GrowthCast. And until then, be sure to rate, review and subscribe to DHG GrowthCast on Apple Podcast, Spotify or Podbean.

End of Episode

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