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As one of the most tumultuous years in American history, many will be relieved that 2020 is at long last drawing to a close. Even still, the changing of the calendar affords an opportunity to reflect back on the most-read articles during the previous 12 months.

This collection illustrates how 2020 began with CEOs revealing their top priorities for the next 3-5 years — many of which are just as pertinent now as they were back in January, notably the striking sense of urgency to change.  

Naturally, several of the pieces on our list are COVID-19-related, but not all of them. There’s also a CEO Guide to AI, insights about what a President-elect Joe Biden White House might hold for health care, top executives revealing the best career advice they ever received, and more 

Here, then, are Health Evolution’s top 10 articles of 2020.  

1. Livongo’s Glen Tullman: ‘We can’t go back to the old, broken health care system’ 
Only a quarter of health care organizations had a virtual care program in place in January, according to Forrester. That has obviously changed as COVID-19 forced a massive shift in how patients interact with providers. People are starting to understand that a hospital, the ER, even a doctor’s office is a dangerous place to go if you have a chronic condition,” Tullman says. “We’re seeing an acceleration in our business, even in the most challenged industries. They may have a reduction in workforce, but for their remaining employees they want to keep them healthy and they have to do it cost effectively. Read the full article. 

2. Top CEO priorities for the next 3-5 years 
Health Evolution interviewed top-tier CEOs to understand their most important agenda items for the future. The top takeaway? Change quickly or risk failing by falling behind. Some of the undertakings are not entirely new but even prior to the pandemic, chief executives had striking sense of urgency to address social determinants, affordability and coverage, artificial intelligence and machine learning, consumerism, culture, new entrants and more. Read the full article. 

3. The Health Evolution CEO Guide to Artificial Intelligence in Health Care 
Because leveraging AI requires that CEOs enact a long-term strategy, the Health Evolution CEO Guide to AI informs executives with the insights to understand how to navigate the unknown capability of AI as well as the potential disruption, challenges and opportunities. The Guide examines the change management necessary to prepare for AI, how partnerships are evolving, legal implications, regulatory & compliance aspects, what to know about privacy and ethics, and more. Our CEO Guide to AI is designed to help CEOs in preparation for making critical decisions determining where AI fits into the organization’s digital transformation, broader mission and enterprise strategy. Download the Health Evolution CEO Guide to AI.  

4. HSS CEO Lou Shapiro on reallocating 85 percent of resources to battle COVID-19 
In a decisive, fast and bold move early in the pandemic, Hospital for Special Surgery CEO Lou Shapiro slashed capacity to approximately 15 percent in one week. Why? To reallocate HSS resources to join forces with NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical Center in the fight against COVID-19. “First thing is, ‘What are your values and principles?’ Second thing is, ‘What decisions do you make against them.’ It has nothing to do with money. It has to do with winning this war. This war is against COVID-19. Period. End of discussion,” Shapiro said. “All hands-on deck. No one is excused from participating to fight this battle.” Read the full article.

5. VillageMD’s CEO Tim Barry: ‘Our health care system is failing the citizens of U.S.’ 
Barry and Village MD CMO Clive Fields, MD, discussed bringing primary care to underserved areas and building connections within the community during a year in which many independent practices are simply trying to survive the financial fallout caused by the pandemic. “The challenge of scaling is less around the heart and mind of the physician. But it’s more around the fact that our starting points are well established physicians who have gotten really good at working in a fee-for-service model,” Barry said. Fields added: “If you’re going to make a difference in people’s health, then make a difference in people’s health that’s not great to start out with. Read the full article. See also: Four primary care disruptors discuss retail, COVID-19 and more.  

6. Biden’s health care plan: 5 things to know 
The Democrats put forth health care recommendations as part of the party’s broader platform earlier this year and we examined the 110-page plan to uncover five aspects for CEOs to understand. Now that Biden has won the White House, of course, the work has in some ways already begun and it will accelerate after the Jan. 20 inauguration. Read the full article. See also: Tom Daschle, Kavita Patel and Ezekiel Emanuel discuss what Biden’s health policy might look like.

7. How the Blues antitrust settlement could shake up the health care industry 
Eight years into the continuing saga of the lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance companies, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association tentatively agreed to a $2.67 billion settlement in September. And while the case is still ongoing, a settlement could have immediate short and long-term impacts. “This will clearly allow Blue Cross plans to compete more than they might have been able to under current association rules. More competition is throwing the proverbial stone into the pond. Ripples will result,” says Bruce Fried, a partner in Dentons’ Health Care practice. “One should expect increased competition among Blues plans to be reflected in the increased competition among health plans themselves.” Read the full article

8. COVID-19 response reveals why public-private partnership is vital to health care 
With the federal government essentially making matters worse during the COVID-19 outbreak, one thing became clear: public-private partnerships are critical to a safer future. “A future investigation into coronavirus testing will show that the rules were obsolete and not adequate for today’s challenges.  It is a systematic institutional failing that demonstrates the huge downside of having the government too much in control of health care,” notes Health Evolution Executive Chairman David Brailer, MD“When it is donewe will ask what we learned and what we should do differently next timeI hope this includes an exploration of how much we benefit from America’s unique public-private collaboration and how we can make it stronger and deeper in the future.” Read the full article.  

9. Addressing racism as a social determinant of health 
Prior to COVID-19, many CEOs were leading or preparing initiatives to incorporate social determinants into broader strategies to improve care for underserved populations. And the intersection of an unprecedented pandemic alongside an economic crisis as well as racial and societal issues that have sparked a recognition that many health care enterprises can play a unique role in their communities. “Health system leaders and policymakers may want to throw up your hands and say, ‘You know what? All this is going on outside the health care system. What am I supposed to do?’” said Laurie Zephyrin, MD, Vice President, Health Care Delivery System Reform, Commonwealth Fund. “For corporate leaders expressing the need to address racial inequity, there are ways to start on this journey.” Read the full article.

10. CEOs, top executives share best leadership advice they ever received 
Health Evolution asked more than a dozen leaders about the best advice they ever received. The responses ranged from “make a plan for when you get fired,” upon starting a new job, “maintain a spirit of generosity,” and “focus on a very small number of things.” Prominent leaders sharing their insights include former Henry Ford Health System CEO Nancy Schlichting, Ochsner CEO Warner ThomasIora Health head Rushika Fernandopulle, MD, and Google Health Vice President David Feinberg, MD, who was formerly CEO of Geisinger Health System. Read the full article.

Editor’s pick’s: Other notable works of 2020 
Women CEOs: Ruth Bader Ginsburg inspires us to advance equity 
After the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, several prominent women leaders shared their perspectives about her legacy. “Justice Ginsburg was a true inspiration to us all. Her life, legacy and wisdom captivated and encouraged us to strive for a more just and equitable world — and to encourage others to do the same,” said Gail Boudreaux, President & CEO, Anthem. “She helped women find their voice and served as a true champion in her fight for a level playing field. As women leaders, we have all benefited from her advocacy and success.”  Read the full article

Innovation Guides: Returning to the Next Normal  
Health Evolution aligned with Providence Digital Innovation Group on a 3-part series, Innovation Guide: Returning to the Next Normal, to disseminate the expertise and experience Providence gleaned as the pandemic’s original US ground zero. Guide 1 examines digital innovation opportunities for safely resuming operations and care delivery. Guide 2 delves into distributed care, extended supply chains and new models for workforce and facilities. And Guide 3 focuses on how digital health can be leveraged to more effectively serve vulnerable people and under-resourced communities and scaling behavioral health servicesLooking toward the future one thing is clear: Digital will be the backbone of health care.Download the Innovation Guides.  

10 health care leaders on lessons from COVID-19 
Health Evolution has hosted a number of Executive Briefing webcasts (all are available on-demand) during 2020 with some of the brightest and most influential leaders in the industry, sharing their in-depth insights on COVID-19 and other topics. What have they learned from a leadership perspective? What do they hope are the long-term effects of this pandemic? How do they handle crisis leadership? Here are some of the highlights of what those leaders revealed. Read the full article.

Tom Sullivan

Tom Sullivan brings more than two decades in editing and journalism experience to Health Evolution. Sullivan most recently served as Editor-in-Chief at HIMSS, leading Healthcare IT News, Health Finance, MobiHealthNews. Prior to HIMSS Media, Sullivan was News Editor of IDG’s InfoWorld, directing a dozen reporters’ coverage for the weekly print publication and daily website.