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What does modern health care leadership look like?

Health care has always been a fast-paced and rapidly evolving industry, but recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic have put increased pressure on industry leaders to remain relevant and forward-thinking. 

To ensure you have the most essential health care leadership and management skills, below we look at whether the industry has changed, and how current developments have impacted aspects of leadership in health care



Australia’s health care system may be one of the most advanced in the world, but it’s far from perfect. These issues are among the biggest challenges facing the industry that future leaders will need to navigate: 

  • Affordability – Statistics from the ACCC show that in 2018-19, consumers paid over $24.5 billion in private health insurance premiums, an increase of 2.8 per cent from 2017-18.
  • Economic divide – Social class is becoming an increasingly influential factor in health care outcomes. For example, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that people living in low socioeconomic areas are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 
  • Demographic changes –The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare predicts that by 2057, 22% of the population will be aged 65 and older.  

Rather than taking a reactionary approach to impending issues, it’s never been more important for health care leaders to look to the future. Adopting an entrepreneurial mindset will also allow leaders to treat challenges as opportunities for growth. 


Adaptable with a problem-solving mindset

As the health care system is constantly changing in response to events like COVID-19, being able to guide your team through periods of disruption while solving complex problems has become essential for effective health care management.

Forbes lists the following characteristics as integral to adaptive thinking:

  • Impulse control – Maintaining control over your impulses gives you more time to react to stimulus in an appropriate manner. 
  • Lack of ego – Leaving your ego at the door will make you more open to receiving feedback, allowing you to embrace new ways of thinking.  
  • Curiosity – Using your natural sense of curiosity to guide your exploration of new health care management methods will make it less difficult to let go of outdated practices. 

With adaptability emerging as an important trait for managers, these characteristics are essential to transformational leadership in health care today. 


Stakeholder centric 

Stakeholders are playing an increasingly important role in the development of health services in Australia, making stakeholder management a requirement for health care leadership. According to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the benefits associated with effective stakeholder management include: 

  • Establishing credibility 
  • Anticipating controversy 
  • Ensuring transparency and accountability 
  • Improving relevance 
  • Enhancing quality 
  • Increasing dissemination and uptake of review findings.

Beyond patients and practitioners, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and government departments may also be primary stakeholders in health care. To effectively engage with such a diverse range of groups, being stakeholder-centric is now an expectation for health care leaders. 


Strong communication and motivational skills

The growing need for effective communication in health care is one of the most influential industry changes to emerge in recent years. A report published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice found that ineffective communication in a health care context can lead to:

  • Discontinuity of care
  • Compromised patient safety
  • Patient dissatisfaction
  • Inefficient use of valuable resources. 

By enhancing your communication skills, you’ll have the opportunity to make a real difference to the quality of health care being provided while adapting your style of leadership to meet modern requirements. 


With health care leadership undergoing such significant change, how can you make sure you’re prepared for future challenges? If you’re not sure you have the right skills for the evolution of health care, a postgraduate qualification could be the key to unlocking your leadership potential. 

The University of Adelaide’s Master of Business Administration (Health Management) is designed for the leaders of tomorrow’s health care industry. It can give you the dynamic mindset you’ll need to thrive in the fast-paced health care industry, allowing you to drive organisational change in virtually any health setting. To learn more about how this MBA program can enhance your leadership and management skills in health care, make an appointment to speak with an advisor today.

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