What has changed in the industry that makes a focus on the consumer that much more critical?
There have been a few changes. Because healthcare has been largely paid for through various insurance and government payment models, consumers have been buffered from the purity of information that makes an economy work. Today, more and more of the financial responsibility is with consumers through high-deductible plans and different kinds of structures, like HSAs.
Consumerism is alive in healthcare and consumers are demanding information that lets them make great decisions about doctors and hospitals and frankly, how to do as much at home as possible. So you think about similar transformations that already been done, in banking and travel and the kinds of things you can do today that we never dreamed we could do decades ago. Those all come from that consumer movement and it is alive in healthcare. A bit delayed, maybe, but alive. It’s fired off energy in the industry and we realize there will be winners and losers—and the winners will always be those that focus on what the consumer needs.
Recruiting and retaining top talent in the healthcare industry was already challenging; now with unemployment at all-time lows, it’s become even more daunting to attract the best and brightest. What is AdventHealth doing to stand out in a competitive market?
A few things. We have a very large talent acquisition team that is focused on making sure our pay and our benefits are exceptional. We know we need to be in a very competitive market position so we’ve studied that carefully. We’ve also increased our minimum wage heavily over the years, well above the required minimum wage in order to get talented people who can have a surviving wage in our organization and make a career of it.
We also use innovative interviewing technology that has really helped us. For example, video interviews using AI in the background, which gives us the percentage chance of an individual nurse staying with us for two years vs. another that has a lower percentage chance based on facial features and questions. Typically, the turnover for first-year nurses is very high – it can be as high as 40-50% percent—so anything you can do to find that person who is different from the rest of the college class who is ready and who has a level of commitment, who’s heart is in the work, it makes all the difference in the world.
We also have a reputation that brings a lot of candidates in; we get 500,000 applications for 5,000 open jobs. It’s very competitive and we’re thankful for that, especially in this economy.
What is it about your culture that attracts so many candidates?
A strong brand as well as our faith-based background. There are many people who see that as a differentiator. They’re looking for a place where they can go and be expressive of the fact that they have faith and see spirituality as a part of human thriving. So that creates a certain staying power, where people come and they feel at home and feel like family. So we have a very large number of long-term employees, similar to organizations like Disney, which creates a very deep family culture and we have that as well.
How does your proximity to some of the largest universities help fill your pipeline?
UCF is a very significant partner and we do significant recruitment from there. We also do innovation work together there. Rollins College has an incredible business school. We do work with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University around some of their research on space travel and its impact on human health. We also have our own university, Advent Health University, which covers the spectrum of careers across allied health professions and that’s a great source as well as state colleges, Valencia College, Seminole State College and Daytona State College, they continue to grow their nursing programs and they do a great job.
Do you recruit from outside Florida?
We do. Our background as a company is Seventh Day Adventist and there are Adventist universities around the country that we recruit from. That’s something we do uniquely and we do pull in a lot of great candidates from those schools.
How much of your time as CEO is spent on talent-related issues and strategy?
I spend a significant amount of time on talent management, especially in the leadership-development realm. We have a very formal process for leadership assessment and succession planning. Every position has two or three names that will be successor for that position and each of those individuals has a development plan associated with those names, so I spend a lot of time with the people who report to me, but also developing the entire picture of succession in the organization and then development and mentoring and coaching. It’s a lot of fun to do that and see people grow in their careers and I spend probably 25% of my time on that.
What advantages do you gain from being headquartered in the Orlando area?
There are two I would focus on most specifically. First, it’s one of the largest tourist destinations in the world, so our ability to develop destination medicine and training programs is phenomenal and it’s a natural draw. Second, the economic development environment here, the Orlando Economic Partnership, and the ability to work with great partners has been phenomenal.
What help does Orlando Economic Partnership provide?
A number of things. The greatest is supporting us by investing in startups and enhancing the tech environment. We’re working hard on creating a health ecosystem around our organization and they have been a tremendous support bringing these great companies in R&D into town. They’re opening up all around our organization.
What are the biggest challenges facing your industry in 2019 and beyond?
A lot of them are challenges related to fixing the historical problems in the industry. Healthcare has been too fragmented, too complicated, and we need to simplify it, and too expensive, so we need to make it more affordable. Those are all really critical challenges that have been self-created over many years and have to be addressed and repaired.
What government’s role in that?
Government will have influence on pricing and pressure, but they won’t fix or transform the industry. That will be up to people like us.