The Contributions of Health Care Management to Grand Health Care Challenges: Volume 20

Cover of The Contributions of Health Care Management to Grand Health Care Challenges

Table of contents

(12 chapters)

Section 1 The Challenge of Caring for Vulnerable Populations


This chapter addresses the grand challenge of an aging society and the subsequent growing demand for in-home care for the elderly – often referred to as homecare. It examines how emergent homecare models in England differ from the “time and task” model and how they are shaping the care market. These models offer new approaches regarding what, how, and when care is delivered at home. Homecare providers face rising demand driven not only by population aging but also by market demand for personalized care, choice, continuity of care, and real-time availability. The landscape presents an opportunity for innovative models to become established, by offering a more inducing service design and value propositions that respond to customers' needs. Using the “business model canvas” to guide data collection, this study presents an ethnographic case analysis of four homecare organizations with distinct emergent homecare models. The study includes 14 months of field observation and 33 in-depth interviews. It finds that providers are becoming increasingly aware of evolving customer needs, establishing models such as the “uberization,” “community-based,” “live-in,” and “preventative” described in the chapter. These models are becoming more pervasive and are mostly market-driven; however, some of their innovations are market shaping. The major innovations are in their value propositions, partnership arrangements, and customer segments. Their value propositions focus on well-being outcomes, including choice and personalization for care users; their workforces are perceived to be a major stakeholder segment, and their networks of partners offer access to complementary services, investments, and specialist knowledge.


Leading health care institutions have recommended greater alignment among health care and social services organizations as a strategy to improve population health. Deepening our understanding of how interorganizational relationships among health care and social service organizations influence care for people with complex needs could improve the design of interventions aimed at aligning these organizations to achieve health goals. Accordingly, we used qualitative methods to (1) elucidate the functions performed by health care and social service organizations caring for older adults and (2) investigate corresponding relationship forms. In-depth interviews with 175 representatives of health care and social service organizations in 10 communities were analyzed. Three distinct interorganizational relationships functions emerged: First, interorganizational relationships gave organizations a deeper and more accurate understanding of how their work was interdependent with the work of other organizations in the community. This function was achieved through coalitions that loosely tied large numbers of organizations and allowed information to flow among them. Second, interorganizational relationships allowed organizations to take joint action toward a shared goal, a function achieved in the form of pairs or small groups of organizations working closely together. Third, interorganizational relationships fostered accountability, with one organization advocating for the needs of clients or patients with another organization. Our results suggest that initiatives to promote regional alignment among health care and social services organizations may benefit from flexible models that anticipate a narrowing of partners to achieve tangible outcomes. Initiatives also need to accommodate low-level conflict that routinely exists among organizations in these sectors.

Section 2 The Challenge of Maintaining the Workforce – Retention and Equity


Employee turnover is a growing challenge for health-care providers delivering patient care today. US population demographics are shifting as the population ages, which leaves the field of health care poised to lose key leaders and employees to retirement at a time when patient care has grown more complex. This means health care will lose its core of key employees at a time when skilled leadership and specialized knowledge is most needed and directly impacts health care's ability to deliver quality care. Operational succession planning (OSP) may be one solution to manage this looming challenge in health care, as the process identifies and develops the next generation of leadership. Thus, this exploratory national study used a quantitative and cross-sectional design to examine the relationship between OSP and employee turnover. Demographic and 10-point Likert scale data were collected from n = 66 medical practices, using an online survey instrument. Data were analyzed using various descriptive and inferential statistical methods. Distribution (frequency and chi-square) analyses of the study sample, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), and regression analyses were performed across seven demographic characteristics of the medical practices: Specialty, Ownership Structure, Number of full-time equivalent (FTE) Physicians, Number of FTE Clinical Employees, Number of FTE Nonclinical Employees, Number of FTE Employees Left Position, and Region. Study results provided statistically significant evidence to support the relationship between OSP and employee turnover, highlighting that OSP was associated with lower employee turnover. The finding suggests that OSP can serve as an effective mechanism for increasing employee retention.


Women in medicine face barriers that hinder progress toward top leadership roles, and the industry remains plagued by the grand challenge of gender inequality. The purpose of this study was to explore how subtle and overt gender biases affect women physicians, physician leaders, researchers, and faculty working in academic health sciences environments and to further examine the association of these biases with workplace satisfaction. The study used a convergent mixed methods approach. Sampling from a list of medical schools in the United States, in conjunction with a list of each state's medical society, the authors analyzed the quantitative survey responses of 293 women in medicine. The authors conducted ordinary least squares multiple regression to assess the relationship of gender barriers on workplace satisfaction. Additionally, 132 of the 293 participants provided written open-ended responses that were explored using a qualitative content analysis methodology. The survey results showed that male culture, lack of sponsorship, lack of mentoring, and queen bee syndrome were associated with lower workplace satisfaction. The qualitative results provided illustrations of how participants experienced these biases. These results emphasize the obstacles that women face and highlight the detrimental nature of gender bias in medicine. The authors conclude by presenting concrete recommendations for managers endeavoring to improve the culture of gender equity and inclusivity.

Section 3 The Challenges of Translating Innovation into Practice


The COVID-19 pandemic stressed the health care sector's longstanding pain points, including the poor quality of frontline work and the staffing challenges that result from it. This has renewed interest in technology-centered approaches to achieving not only the “Triple Aim” of reducing costs while raising access and quality but also the “Quadruple Aim” of doing so without further squeezing wages and abrading job quality for frontline workers.

How can we leverage technology toward the achievement of the Quadruple Aim? I view this as a “grand challenge” for health care managers and policymakers. Those looking for guidance will find that most analyses of the workforce impact of technological change consider broad classes of technology such as computers or robots outside of any particular industry context. Further, they typically predict changes in work or labor market outcomes will come about at some ill-defined point in the medium to long run. This decontextualization and detemporization proves markedly problematic in the health care sector: the nonmarket, institutional factors driving technology adoption and implementation loom especially large in frontline care delivery, and managers and policymakers understandably must consider a well-defined, near-term, i.e., 5–10-year, time horizon.

This study is predicated on interviews with hospital and home health agency administrators, union representatives, health care information technology (IT) experts and consultants, and technology developers. I detail the near-term drivers and anticipated workforce impact of technological changes in frontline care delivery. With my emergent prescriptions for managers and policymakers, I hope to guide sectoral actors in using technology to address the “grand challenge” inherent to achieving the Quadruple Aim.


Health-care professionals undergo numerous training programs each year in order to fulfill licensure requirements and organizational obligations. However, evidence suggests that a substantial amount of what is taught during training is never learned or transferred back to routine work. A major contributor to this issue is low training motivation. Prior conceptual models on training transfer in the organizational sciences literature consider this deficit, yet do not account for the unique conditions of the hospital setting. This chapter seeks to close this gap by adapting conceptual models of training transfer to this setting that are grounded in organizational science. Based on theory and supplemented by semistructured key informant interviews (i.e., organizational leaders and program directors), we introduce an applied model of training motivation to facilitate training transfer in the hospital setting. In this model, training needs analysis is positioned as a key antecedent to ensure support for training, relevant content, and perceived utility of training. We posit that these factors, along with training design and logistics, enhance training motivation in hospital environments. Further, we suggest that training motivation subsequently impacts learning and transfer, with elements of the work environment also serving as moderators of the learning-transfer relationship. Factors such as external support for training content (e.g., from accrediting bodies) and allocation of time for training are emphasized as facilitators. The proposed model suggests there are factors unique to the hospital work setting that impact training motivation and transfer that should be considered when developing and implementing training initiatives in this setting.

Section 4 The Challenge of Organizational Sustainability


The long-term financial stability of hospital systems represents a “grand challenge” in health care. New ownership forms, such as private equity (PE), promise to achieve better financial performance than nonprofit or for-profit systems. In this study, we compare two systems with many similarities, but radically different ownership structures, missions, governance, and merger and acquisition (M&A) strategies. Both were nonprofit, religious systems serving low-income communities – Montefiore Health System and Caritas Christi Health Care.

Montefiore's M&A strategy was to invest in local hospitals and create an integrated regional system, increasing revenues by adding primary doctors and community hospitals as feeders into the system and achieving efficiencies through effective resource allocation across specialized units. Slow and steady timing of acquisitions allowed for organizational learning and balancing of debt and equity. By 2019, it owned 11 hospitals with 40,000 employees and had strong positive financials and low reliance on debt.

By contrast, in 2010, PE firm Cerberus Capital bought out Caritas (renamed Steward Health Care System) and took control of the Board of Directors, who set the system's strategic direction. Cerberus used Steward as a platform for a massive debt-driven acquisition strategy. In 2016, it sold off most of its hospitals’ property for $1.25 billion, leaving hospitals saddled with long-term inflated leases; paid itself almost $500 million in dividends; and used the rest for leveraged buyouts of 27 hospitals in 9 states in 3 years. The rapid, scattershot M&A strategy was designed to create a large corporation that could be sold off in five years for financial gain – not for health care integration. Its debt load exploded, and by 2019, its financials were deeply in the red. Its Massachusetts hospitals were the worst financial performers of any system in the state. Cerberus exited Steward in 2020 in a deal that left its physicians, the new owners, holding the debt.


Increasingly, addressing healthcare's grand challenges requires complex system-level adaptations involving continuously evolving teams and leaders. Although leadership development strategies have been shown to improve individual leader effectiveness, much less is known about how organization-level leadership development affects organization-level outcomes. To begin building an evidence base as well as encouraging evidence-based practices, the US-based National Center for Healthcare Leadership developed a program capitalizing on leaders' demonstrated interest in organizational competitiveness: the biennial Best Organizations for Leadership Development (BOLD) program. In this chapter, we describe the philosophy behind this unique survey program and summarize research to date on relationships between survey dimensions and organizational outcomes such as patient experience and financial performance. We conclude with a description of promising areas for future study.

Section 5 The Challenge of Pandemics for Patients, Workers, and Practices – Lessons from Covid-19


Purpose: While COVID-19 has upended lives, it has also catalyzed innovation with potential to advance health delivery. Yet, we know little about how the delivery system, and primary care in particular, has responded and how this has impacted vulnerable patients. We aimed to understand the impact of COVID-19 on primary care practice sites and their vulnerable patients and to identify explanations for variation. Approach: We developed and administered a survey to practice managers and physician leaders from 173 primary care practice sites, October-November 2020. We report and graphically depict results from univariate analysis and examine potential explanations for variation in practices' process innovations in response to COVID-19 by assessing bivariate relationships between seven dependent variables and four independent variables. Findings: Among 96 (55.5%) respondents, primary care practice sites on average took more safety (8.5 of 12) than financial (2.5 of 17) precautions in response to COVID-19. Practice sites varied in their efforts to protect patients with vulnerabilities, providing care initially postponed, and experience with virtual visits. Financial risk, practice size, practitioner age, and emergency preparedness explained variation in primary care practices' process innovations. Many practice sites plan to sustain virtual visits, dependent mostly on patient and provider preference and continued reimbursement. Value: While findings indicate rapid and substantial innovation, conditions must enable primary care practice sites to build on and sustain innovations, to support care for vulnerable populations, including those with multiple chronic conditions and socio-economic barriers to health, and to prepare primary care for future emergencies.


The COVID-19 pandemic burdens health-care workers (HCWs) worldwide. Amid high-stress conditions and unprecedented needs for crisis management, organizations face the grand challenge of supporting the mental health and well-being of their HCWs. The current literature on mental health and well-being primarily focuses on improving personal resilience among HCWs. However, this puts the responsibility for coping with COVID-19-related stress almost fully on the individual. This chapter discusses an important alternative framing of this issue – how health-care organizations (HCOs) can facilitate recovery from work processes (i.e., returning to a baseline level by engaging in nonwork activities after work) for their workers. Based on a narrative review of the occupational health psychology literature, we provide practical strategies for supporting the four key recovery experiences of detachment, control, mastery, and relaxation, as well as present general recommendations about how to promote recovery. These strategies can help HCOs facing the grand challenge of sustaining worker well-being and functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as during future pandemics and for workers facing high work pressure in general.

Cover of The Contributions of Health Care Management to Grand Health Care Challenges
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Advances in Health Care Management
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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