The Health Management Academy

What Leading Health Systems Wish Industry Partners Knew: Part 1


In this three-part series, we’ll outline what Leading Health Systems view as essential for a successful partnership, and what they wish potential industry partners knew.

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Before Engaging, Do Your Homework

Tip #1: Understand the healthcare industry

Healthcare is a large and highly complex industry, with unique economics, market pressures, and stakeholder incentives that affect how Leading Health Systems (LHS) operate and invest.

As a potential industry partner, make sure you understand:

  • The breadth and depth of the major players in healthcare (providers, payers, patients, etc.) and how they interact
  • How payment works and the broader economic realities faced by LHS, which run on extremely tight margins
  • Current LHS challenges, such as pressure to compete with disruptive innovators and cost growth incurred by mitigating workforce shortages

Tip #2: Learn all you can about the target Leading Health System

LHS vary in size, organization, strategy, and who makes decisions. It’s important to approach them with a strategy specific to each.

You should understand:

  • Size, scope, and “systemness”: what services do they provide (or not)? How centralized is management of those services across the organization?
  • Current strategic initiatives and challenges: What do they care most about right now?
  • Organizational charts: What are formal lines of decision-making? Who has informal influence? What new leadership titles have they recently added and why?
  • Individual economic situation: Have they recently made a large investment that will affect other purchases? Do they rely heavily on fee-for service revenue or are they far along in a journey toward value-based payment?

Tip #3: Know what matters to the specific executive you’re approaching.

LHS executives have different purviews and priorities. It’s OK to confirm those priorities in conversation, but never go in cold.

Industry partners should understand:

  • How that executive’s specific role and oversight relates to system priorities
  • What that executive is likely focused on and what concerns may be keeping them up at night
  • The extent of that executive’s decision-making influence over the relevant area
  • Relationship networks: Who does that executive work most closely with? What dotted line relationships do they have? What perspective might they bring to that organization from prior employment at other health systems?