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Healthcare has lagged behind other industries in proactively reaching out to consumers. But the sector is now catching up and making the patient experience its primary focus. New players have emerged on the scene. So have disruptive innovations, like smartphone apps that help patients connect to payers and providers in real-time. That means healthcare companies need to rethink consumer engagement strategies. An overwhelming majority of CEOs are planning to strengthen their engagement with key stakeholders over the next year, with customers at the top of the list. And 44% are investing in initiatives to improve the level of customer service they deliver. What else did they tell us?

The sector is getting social
One way to reach the industry’s key customers – patients – is through social media. More than half of healthcare CEOs already believe that users of social media have an influence on their companies. And 81% of them plan to make changes designed to increase their engagement with users of social media.

Growing at home
For healthcare CEOs, focusing on existing domestic market wins is the main route to growth. Foreign markets are barely on their radar at all; only 10% expect to grow by expanding abroad and a tiny 2% are looking for increased revenues in foreign operations to jump-start growth. And while a focus on domestic markets certainly makes sense, we believe that healthcare companies may be missing some opportunities to grow beyond their own borders.

Getting leaner
With governments and other payers around the world looking to cut healthcare costs, sector CEOs are acutely aware of the need to trim the fat. 84% of healthcare CEOs say they’ve cut costs this year. That’s exactly the same number as told us they were planning a cost-reduction initiative in last year’s survey. And healthcare CEOs are keeping the pressure on, with four-fifths planning to reduce costs in the coming 12 months and operational efficiency at the top of their list of investment priorities.

Working together with partners is one route that can help to increase effectiveness. Healthcare CEOs are putting an even stronger emphasis on joint ventures and strategic alliances than their peers across the total sample. Nearly half have joined forces in the past 12 months – and two-thirds are planning a deal for the coming year.

Transforming through technology
Medical technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few decades. Some of the latest frontiers like mHealth and electronic medical records are not only helping improve the quality of care, but also make providing healthcare services more efficient. So it’s not surprising that more healthcare CEOs expect a major increase in technology investments compared to peers across the overall sample.

Taking care to cope with cyber threats?
Healthcare companies need to manage massive quantities of data, from patient medical records to complicated rules for reimbursement. Some of this information is now being stored in the cloud. Is it secure enough? 44% of healthcare CEOs think a cyber attack or major disruption of the internet is ‘unlikely’ to happen in the coming 12 months – but another 40% just aren’t sure.

And with 71% of healthcare CEOs saying a cyber attack or major disruption of the internet this year would have a negative impact on their business, we think there’s a strong case that many sector CEOs need to take a closer look at data security.

Keeping skilled workers happy and healthy
Healthcare CEOs put skills shortages high on their list of concerns too. But here, too, many are making active efforts to do something about the situation. More than a third of healthcare CEOs are planning to significantly increase their investments in creating and fostering a skilled workforce (compared to 19% of the overall survey).

And they’re working to keep employees happy and healthy too. More healthcare CEOs– 36% vs. 26% overall – say they’re planning a major change in how they engage employees; more plan to get all staff involved in strategic decision making, and more are also planning a ‘significant’ increase in investments around maintaining the health of the workforce.

These interviews contain the opinions and views of the CEOs interviewed, and do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of PwC.


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