In this year’s Survey, we canvassed the views of 56 Healthcare CEOs from 27 countries about three imperatives: managing man and machine to create a workforce that’s fit for the digital age; preserving organisational trust in a world of increasingly virtual interactions; and making globalisation work for everyone.
CEOs’ long-held scepticism has been amply borne out by recent events. Greater international competition has led to job losses in some countries, and increased migration has put pressure on public services.
No wonder Healthcare CEOs are so concerned about uncertain economic growth: 82% are worried about this, but they are more concerned than their peers about geopolitical uncertainty – 80% versus 74% – and markedly more so about social instability: 79% compared with 68%.
But at the very top of their list is over-regulation, which is hardly surprising, given the nature of the healthcare market (84% as against an average of 80%). They agree with their peers in seeing more closed national policies as detrimental to growth (58%).
Most CEOs believe technology has changed the shape of competition in their industry: in Healthcare, 54% say it has done so either significantly or completely in the last two decades.
And the speed of change is accelerating: a huge 86% of Healthcare CEOs see technology reshaping competition in the next five years.
This new reality is also reflected in the fact that 71% of Healthcare respondents are concerned about the speed of technological change, and 70% worry about shifts in customer behaviour.
One theme that’s been emerging over the last few years of the Survey is the gradual convergence of the technology and talent agendas. As more and more tasks can be automated or taken on by machines, companies are reshaping their workforces and individual roles are changing. This year, 79% of Healthcare respondents told us they have changed their people strategy to reflect the skills and employment structures they need for the future.
However, the majority of Healthcare CEOs are actually planning to hire more people this year, not fewer, and is noticeably ahead of the average: 64% intending to increase recruitment over the next 12 months, compared to 52% in general, and the equal highest of any sector. That said, 59% of the sector’s CEOs are exploring the benefits of humans and machines working together and 52% are considering the impact of artificial intelligence on future skills needs, which is much higher than the 39% average figure.
Twenty years ago trust wasn't even on the typical CEO’s radar; in fact, we didn't ask about it until 2002.
Now, trust is becoming a growing concern and this is one area where digital technology is creating a problem rather than solving it: 75% of Healthcare CEOs agree that it's harder for business to gain and keep trust in the new digital world. Breaches in data security and ethics rank as the number one risk to stakeholders’ trust for all respondents in the next five years, scoring 82%. Given the acute sensitivity of the data they handle, this is hardly surprising.
While 63% of Healthcare CEOs are taking action now on data security and ethics, only 48% are taking action on cyber security activity, lagging the global average of 52%.
But these risks can also be turned into opportunity: 73% of Healthcare CEOs believe that the way their business handles data will be a positive differentiating factor in the future.
The Chinese economy continues to undergo complex structural reforms to ensure balanced and steady development and growth. Business outlook for executives in China appears quite positive. To achieve this growth, numerous challenges combined with global economic uncertainty have to be overcome. Intense industry competition, the pace of technological development, changes in consumer spending and behaviour, difficulty with recruiting employees with advanced skills and lack of trust in business were cited as main threats to growth prospects.
Business leaders today have a great opportunity and responsibility to lead through the disruptions by demonstrating purpose and increasing trust. Find out more from our China report: Leading through disruption.