Through the inaugural Healthcare CEO Future Pulse 200 health leaders from around the world were surveyed on a number of topics that include: the impact of COVID-19, workforce concerns, leadership, digital health use, partnerships, and shifting paradigms in the areas of patient centricity, care and delivery models.

Health leaders are playing multi-dimensional chess – facing the classic problem of doing more with less, withstanding massive shocks like pandemics, all while planning their next moves in anticipation of the future. The pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges, illustrated by the detrimental effects on societies and economies when healthcare systems become overwhelmed – proving its criticality to global stability. Healthcare organizations have earned the gratitude of society with their resilience and persistence in tackling the crisis, crediting their diligent workforces, strategic agility and strong leadership. Now, as we begin to emerge from the crisis, many organizations are once again setting their sights on the future.

Based on conversations with healthcare leaders worldwide, KPMG professionals sense a wind of change coming for the sector. To better understand how healthcare executives will be charting this change in course towards the future, KPMG surveyed 200 healthcare CEOs from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States. All these leaders oversee medium-to-large hospitals, health systems and care provider networks that span privately and publicly funded systems. They represent a spectrum of self-identified transformation personas, ranging from ‘innovators’ to ‘early adopters’ to ‘early majority’ to ‘laggards’ and provide us with thought-provoking insights into the future of healthcare. Views which were further elaborated upon through interviews with sector leaders.

If there is one common thread in the results, it is that healthcare executives expect and welcome reform – with 80 percent of CEOs believing that healthcare needs disruption and change, with 79 percent expecting that all aspects of care delivery models will be transformed within the next three years – which is a high ambition on a short runway for any sector.

A consistent theme throughout  this report is that most healthcare CEOs hold well-intentioned ambitions but have yet to initiate or implement many of them. To help convert their dreams to reality, KPMG health sector specialists have identified 10 perspectives for leaders to action today to help build for tomorrow. These perspectives describe the primary drivers of these changes, namely the role that technology, communities and patients themselves will play.

No matter whether we are in a crisis situation or in steadier times, the future of healthcare will continue to involve complex challenges that will require holistic, forward-looking and flexible leadership. With this inaugural report and future editions of the Healthcare CEO Future Pulse, KPMG firms aim to support health leaders in this journey together.  We welcome the opportunity to work together to these collective dreams for the sector into the reality of tomorrow.


Key findings

COVID-19 will accelerate transformation of the healthcare sector

Fewer than half of healthcare CEOs surveyed said their organizations were well-prepared for the arrival of COVID-19, but nearly all believe that the pandemic will be a significant accelerant for transformation in the sector.

Care delivery models will be transformed

The vast majority of healthcare executives believe that within the next 3 years, all aspects of care delivery models will be transformed; yet few have actually begun the change process.

Delivery and business models are ill-equipped for coming changes

There is consensus amongst health leaders that current delivery and business models are ill-equipped for the coming changes, and many are making efforts to prioritize quality over quantity of care.

Community-based non-hospital care is rising in importance

The rising importance of community-based, non-hospital care is welcomed by most executives, but many are still in the early stages of adapting their own delivery models to create meaningful partnerships with communities and other sectors outside of healthcare.

Leaders recognize the capacity gap between future demand and labor supply

On workforce challenges, health leaders are currently focused on supporting and optimizing their current capacity, while recognizing the looming ‘capacity gap’ between future demand and labor supply.

Technology’s role in transforming healthcare

Technology is understood to play a vitally important role in transforming healthcare — from care delivery to workforce augmentation to customer-centricity, and only a few executives have created digital strategies that look far enough into the future. Many also view the challenges in adaptation to new technologies as a potential barrier to transformation.

CEOs should adapt to the changes in what it means to be a healthcare leader

On the topic of healthcare organization leadership, CEOs should adapt to the changing form of what it means to be a healthcare leader: including the breadth of skills required to step-up to the digital future, as well as the diversity in the people they surround themselves with, and how they define success — through key performance indicators that also include economic, social and governance factors.

Leaders should reflect upon the coming years of transformation and how plans reconcile with this.

Health leaders should further reflect upon the coming years of transformation and how well their plans reconcile with this. This survey should indicate where the momentum of the sector is heading towards, and CEOs should evaluate their readiness and plans accordingly. To own the future, engaging, incentivizing, and empowering their teams and communities will be key.


Explore the Healthcare CEO Future Pulse

In this report you can find 10 actionable perspectives for healthcare leaders, including:

  1. The COVID cloud’s silver lining.
    How the pandemic has accelerated transformation in healthcare. > Read more.
  2. Patience for patient-centricity.
    Investment and time are needed to give customers the experiences they deserve. > Read more.
  3. Power to the people…soon.
    The evolving role of patients — from recipients of care to active participants. > Read more.
  4. Blurring lines between care and the community.
    The case for moving care out of hospitals and closer to patients. > Read more.
  5. Digital healthcare: Not ‘if’ or ‘why,’ but ‘when’ and ‘how soon?’
    Why digital is the inevitable solution but needs action today. > Read more.
  6. The digital journey — from data and delivery to AI and robotics.
    Why health leaders need to walk before they can run in the digital journey. > Read more.
  7. Workforce worries won’t go away.
    The transition from optimizing ways of working to ensuring healthcare organizations have enough people to meet demand. > Read more.
  8. Choose your friends wisely.
    The dynamic ecosystem of players in healthcare delivery. > Read more.
  9. Enter the multifaceted leader.
    How the modern health leader will be best-equipped and measured. > Read more.
  10. The path forward: Be the master of your own destiny.
    Health leaders recognize the challenge ahead; but it will take a frank assessment to start the journey. > Read more.