Healthcare leaders say COVID-19 is accelerating radical transformation

But KPMG reprt reveals talent and technology barriers could slow this positive progress

  • 200 health leaders shared their views on transformation of the sector for the first-ever KPMG Healthcare CEO Future Pulse
  • 97% say COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the change agenda
  • 79% believe that, within the next three years, all aspects of care delivery models will be transformed
  • 84% believe transformation won’t happen without real change, including reforming the way care providers are incentivised

KPMG asked more than 200 healthcare chief executives how they were preparing for the future

Dr Anna van Poucke

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating transformation in healthcare systems, but obstacles including workforce stability, provider incentivisation, and innovation barriers could slow progress, according to 200 healthcare leaders from around the world.

Chief executives from some of the world’s-leading public and private healthcare providers in eight geographies were interviewed for KPMG’s first-ever Global Healthcare CEO Future Pulse.

The report’s breadth and scale offers insights into how healthcare leaders overseeing hospitals, health systems, and care provider networks, are preparing for the future.

The healthcare providers have been on the frontlines of international efforts to tackle the pandemic and now, as many jurisdictions plan and transition to post-COVID recovery, the healthcare sector itself is preparing for longer-term transformation.

And, while more than half of chief executives (62%) were already undertaking substantial change prior to the pandemic; COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the change agendas of 97% of respondents.

The vast majority (79%) believe that, within the next three years, all aspects of care delivery models will be transformed.

Before the pandemic, transformation was on the minds of many health leaders, but it was often mired by bureaucracy, gathering stakeholders, support, and prolonged planning. The crisis has acted as an accelerant, with CEOs now bracing for imminent and necessary change

But the sector faces significant obstacles and challenges ahead.

Ability to meet demand, the impact of new operating models on staff, supporting wellness, and recruiting new talent were the biggest workforce concerns leaders reported, as the sector readies itself for significant future reform and change.

65% of reespondents identify the risks associated with technological change as their top barrier to innovation, while roughly two-thirds (67%) of executives acknowledge the need to focus more acutely on talent and resources, and 84% believe transformation won’t happen without more-systemic change, such as reforming the way care providers are incentivised.

And the vast majority of CEOs agree the traditional care delivery ecosystem is evolving, with 70% expecting hospitals themselves to evolve into ‘healthcare hubs’, focused on specialty care, and 63% believe it’s important to shift the delivery of care into more community-based settings.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Anna van Poucke, KPMG’s global head of healthcare, said: “The last year and a half has been a huge challenge for healthcare globally, but COVID-19 has also demonstrated the vital role the sector plays in the functioning and overall success of society.

"Before the pandemic, transformation was on the minds of many health leaders, but it was often mired by bureaucracy, gathering stakeholders, support, and prolonged planning.

"The crisis has acted as an accelerant, with CEOs now bracing for imminent and necessary change.

The industry demonstrated its resilience and adaptability throughout the pandemic. Now, the complex challenges faced by healthcare organisations will require holistic, forward-looking, and flexible leadership

"Crucially, 80% shared they believe the industry is in need of disruption and change.

"KPMG is describing this moment as ‘from dreams to reality’ as we’re at a critical point in time where leadership understands massive transformation lies ahead, but acknowledges that some underlying challenges facing the sector could slow progress; from technological barriers to talent and resource issues.

“The industry demonstrated its resilience and adaptability throughout the pandemic. Now, the complex challenges faced by healthcare organisations will require holistic, forward-looking, and flexible leadership.

"Healthcare leaders should also reflect on the coming years of transformation and how well their individual plans reconcile with this.

"To own the future, engaging, incentivising and empowering their teams and communities will be key.”