The Fast Track to the Hospital C-Suite, Annual Black Book Executive Survey Reveals Technology Deployment & Advanced Analytical Skills Are in High Demand

Different times or circumstances call for different leadership skills. As the healthcare industry implements radically innovative technologies, organizations are finding their incumbent senior management teams, regardless if CEOs, CFOs, etc. are lacking a skill set of successful EHR and population health deployments, analytics proficiency, and technology expertise outside of the CIO's office.

​Black Book™ well known internationally for accurate, impartial customer satisfaction surveys in the services and software industries, conducted its annual healthcare executive search firm and management recruitment user polls to determine the highest ranked client experience vendors for 2015. As part of a special research focus on hospital, healthcare networks and corporate users, Black Book provides insight from 1,515 industry insiders.

784 respondents represented the hospital organizations including 318 Human Resources directors and internal recruiters, 67 hospital board members, and 409 C-suite executives that conducted searches for senior managers in Q1 2015-Q3 2015 rated their satisfaction with their outsourced retained and contingency management recruiters.  

Additionally, 731 respondents representing the external recruitment agencies, provided feedback on the issues and candidate skill preferences they experienced in 2015, including 440 healthcare management recruiters from multi-industry search firms, 198 hospital and healthcare executive search-specific recruiters, and 133 recruiters from boutique and small healthcare recruitment firms.

‘The power of data and analytics is profoundly changing the healthcare business and clinical landscape, and once again hospitals need more top-management tech muscle,” said Doug Brown, Managing Partner of Black Book. “It’s evident that without added C-suite horsepower at this crossroads of value-based payment reform, population health and accountable care opportunities, that stoking the forces of advanced technologies and data analytics will be very difficult for most hospitals.”

Executive recruiters were asked to rank in order of demand, the skills cited as most needed for C-level candidates in 2015 searches.  The ten skills and traits most hospital boards and senior human resources directors indicated overall among all current executive team searches in 2015 are:

1.     Technological & Data/Systems Management

2.     Advanced Analytics

3.     Deployment and Execution

4.     Strategy/Planning/Marketing

5.     Finance & Reimbursement

6.     Leadership

7.     Relationships/Team Building

8.     Communications

9.     Change Management

10.   Integrity

Healthcare industry experience was ranked #11 in the 2015 survey, falling from the top ten of most desirable executive traits for the first time since the survey was conducted.

Specifically, by searched positions, the commanded talents of 2015 hospital c-suite candidate:

Chief Executive Officers

1.     Technology & Data/Systems Management

2.     Strategy/Planning/Marketing

3.     Change Management

Chief Financial Officers

1.     Technology & Data/Systems Management

2.     Advanced Analytics

3.     Finance & Reimbursement

Chief Nursing/Clinical Officer

1.     Technology & Data/Systems Management

2.     Deployment & Execution

3.     Leadership

Chief Medical Officer

1.     Technology & Data/Systems Management

2.     Advanced Analytics

3.     Communications

Chief Information Officer

1.     Relationships/Team Building

2.     Communications

3.     Deployment & Execution

Note: Technology & Data/Systems Management ranked #5 in priority for new CIOs, the only C-suite executive that actually saw a preference on less technology skills and more interpersonal skills.

“Every C-suite officer currently being recruited by hospital organizations needs to be, in part, a CIO,” said Doug Brown, Managing Partner of Black Book.  “Healthcare is a knowledge-based business and it runs at the speed of software in 2015.”

Once employed, leadership and relationship/team building are the most desired skills.

More hospitals are relying on senior level management to lead technology deployments and strategies, initiatives that were typically left to external consultants. 

80% of hospitals over 200 beds relied on an internal, c-level executive to champion the organization’s IT vendor selections and implementations, as compared to 43% in 2012. The use of consultants is not decreasing in terms of engagements or dollars spent, but the dependence on the consultant as the sole initiative leader is dwindling according to 65% of hospital CEOs.

The search for hospital c-suite executives from outside the industries is also cooling off since the 2013-2014 trend to complement fresh CEOs with venture capital, investments, mergers and acquisitions, and banking backgrounds. In 2013, the hospital boards of 42% of CEO searches leaned towards candidates with private equity and venture capital experience, banking or finance/accounting.

Technology and analytics expertise only ranked as the top skill based demanded in 20% of the CEO searches two years ago.

In Q1-Q3 2015, 83% of searches for CEO, CFOs, CNOs, and CMOs, were/are seeking tech savvy leaders with successful deployment and execution track records.

Even the interim c-level executive staffing recruiters saw an uptick in the demand for temporary senior managers with technology skills, particularly leadership in EHR deployment, accountable care systems, and analytics. 66% of facilities utilizing short term CEOs, CFOs and CIOs stated they preferred candidates with strong technology experience as they continue permanent searches.

“It is a clear signal about how hospital C-suite jobs are evolving”, said Brown. “Data has so much to do with successful healthcare delivery from the top down.”

The top ranked hospital and healthcare executive search firm, as rated on eighteen key performance indicators by human resources directors, board members and c-suite offices in 2015 is B.E. Smith. 

High scores in individual categories were also received by Tyler & Company, Witt/Kieffer, Solomon Page, Grant Cooper & Associates, Quick Leonard, FPL Advisory, Furst Group, SSI Group and Korn/Ferry International.

More results can be obtained at

About Black Book

Black Book™, its founders, management and staff do not own or hold any financial interest in any of the vendors covered and encompassed in the surveys it conducts. Black Book reports the results of the collected satisfaction and client experience rankings in publication and to media prior to vendor notification of rating results and does not solicit vendor participation fees, review fees, inclusion or briefing charges, and/or vendor collaboration as Black Book polls vendors’ clients

Since 2000, Black Book™ has polled the vendor satisfaction across over thirty industries in the software and managed services sectors around the globe. In 2009, Black Book began polling the client experience of over 510,000 current healthcare software and managed services users. Black Book expanded its survey prowess and reputation of independent, unbiased crowdsourced surveying to HR, IT and health records professionals, physician practice administrators, nurses, financial leaders, executives and hospital information technology managers. Over 1,500 users participated in the 2015 polls of hospital executive search firm client experience in a five month set of studies. Additionally, 900 respondents that have not utilized external executive recruitment services provided insight on budgeting, adoption plans, and other factors including search firm vendor awareness.

For methodology, auditing, resources, comprehensive research and ranking data see: