How to succeed in 2023: 4 CEOs weigh in

From teamwork to transparency, four healthcare CEOs recently spoke with Becker's about how to succeed in 2023.

Neeraja Kikkeri, DDS. CEO of North Texas Team Care Surgery Center (Mesquite): We need to be able to have the right team so that whatever challenges we face in the next five years can and will be handled. No one expected COVID, but our executive team did everything to pay our staff — some even cut their pay to continue to pay our hourly folks — and we did not let go of anyone during that time. In fact, shortly afterward we hired more people. We should all be prepared for change and the challenges that come with it.  


Annu Navani, MD. Founder and CEO of Comprehensive Spine & Sports Center (Campbell, Calif.): The growth in orthopedics, spine and pain has been steady and will remain so. These are safe specialties, as the need is always there and will continue to thrive for various reasons. First, they offer a vast spectrum of services, many of which can be administered via telehealth. In addition, there is a trend to drift toward minimally invasive surgeries that can be performed in nonhospital-based outpatient facilities like ASCs or in-office procedure suites that are less regulated and less likely to shut down during a surge of the pandemic. This has led to quite a bit of interest in investment in these specialties.


Marla Roberts, RN., Founder and CEO of Periop Accreditation Readiness (Waverly, Tenn.): For staffing, healthcare executives and leaders will need to address the new ideas and mentality of the Millennial and Gen Z generations. They are very different from previous generations and are demanding better work-/life balance, timely promotions or recognition, great working culture and higher compensation. 

Payer compensation is very important with payer mix being at the forefront. Due to the increasing unemployment numbers, there will be more people without insurance. However, even those with insurance will struggle meeting their new high deductible plans, copays and prescription bills. Due to the baby boomers retiring, there will be more Medicare patients, which means hospitals will definitely have to focus more on quality and safety to maintain reimbursement status with government programs.


Caitlin Zulla, CEO of SCA Health (Deerfield, Ill.): There are three critical things for healthcare executives and leaders to succeed: vision, culture, and connectivity.  

Leaders must be able to shape a forward-looking and purpose-driven vision that guides our teams. When we lead with our vision at the forefront, we remind people why they got into medicine in the first place and that their work can improve the healthcare system for all. 

Leaders must also foster a culture aligned with shared commitments and values that support the established vision. We are passionate about creating a culture where every teammate can bring their full, authentic self to work and one where inclusion, integrity, trust, and transparency are at our core. 

Finally, effective leaders must work together to build connectivity in the ever-evolving healthcare industry. Relationships are key to success, so authentically and compassionately connecting with partners — including strategic industry leaders, vendors, physicians, customers, and employees — will improve innovation, agility and the maximization of business opportunities.


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