October 26, 2023 Episode 59

Deciphering the New Normal (Part 2): CommonSpirit’s Chief Strategy Officer, Sheri Shapiro

Sheri Shapiro, who has now held chief strategy roles at two of the nation’s five largest health systems, discusses the post-pandemic world of healthcare and the issues large health systems are tackling on the path back to normal.

Deciphering the New Normal (Part 2): CommonSpirit’s Chief Strategy Officer, Sheri Shapiro

CommonSpirit Health is one of the nation’s largest integrated health systems comprising 142 hospitals and 2,200 care sites across 24 states. Three years ago, at the height of the pandemic, CommonSpirit’s Chief Innovation Officer, Rich Roth, and now former CEO, Lloyd Dean, spoke with Keith Figlioli on the Healthcare is Hard podcast to discuss their approach to leading the organization through healthcare’s most challenging times. As the country emerges into a new normal, CommonSpirit’s Chief Strategy Officer, Sheri Shapiro, joins the podcast to discuss how she’s leading this large organization with diverse markets and service lines into the future.

Sheri recently joined CommonSpirit to lead strategy in June 2023, undertaking a wide ranging role that spans responsibility for market strategy and development, growth and partnerships, strategy transformation, innovation, marketing and communications, brand management, the international division, sales and payer strategy. She brings more than 20 years of healthcare management consulting, health system leadership and brand management to the position, including seven years leading strategy at another one of the country’s largest health systems, Trinity Health.

In this episode of Healthcare Is Hard, Sheri talked to Keith about how she views the new normal and how she’s helping CommonSpirit navigate these uncharted waters. Some of the topics they discussed include:

  • Guiding principles for a large health system. Sheri described the three most important things she evaluates for setting high-level strategy at a large health system. First is defining the common thread that a health system will be known for across all sites – the one unique advantage and competitive differentiator. Second is setting individual market strategies that align with the fundamentally local nature of healthcare delivery. Third is the operating model of the company, which serves as the glue that holds system and market strategy together. Without a model that enables local markets to operate efficiently while leveraging “systemness” and scale, Sheri says a large health system will be unable to execute.
  • Portfolio rebalancing. Sheri talked about how the new normal has been impending for quite some time, citing examples like the shift from inpatient to outpatient starting more than a decade ago and challenges with rising costs growing for even longer. With events including the pandemic accelerating the need to transform, she talked about her beliefs around portfolio management and thinking through how to best deliver every service across the system and in each market. This includes examining the organization’s presence in every market to ensure it’s playing an essential role, and where it’s not, looking for opportunities to transform.
  • Misconceptions of healthcare economics. Most people have a gross misunderstanding of healthcare finance and how different it is than other industries. Sheri discussed the mix of fixed and variable costs in healthcare and the inability to control revenue like other industries can. She used the simple example of restaurants that have trouble hiring and can adapt by paying staff more and raising prices almost immediately – a level of control healthcare providers just don’t have. She says there will have to be a fundamental change in the economic model of healthcare, and without policy reform, she says it will impede the industry’s ability to transformm

To hear Keith and Sheri talk about these topics and more, listen to this episode of Healthcare is Hard: A Podcast for Insiders.