An Interim Healthcare Executive Leadership strategy can help healthcare organizations and medical group practices to: 1. Accelerate change, 2. Catalyze operational initiatives, and 3. Keep the organization moving forward. During the often 6-month plus process for recruiting a replacement for a key executive role, or during a time of leadership transition where the long-term value of the role is being assessed, the deployment of an Interim Healthcare Executive Leader can give senior leaders and their board of trustees a much-needed boost in these very challenging times.

What Roles Do Interim Healthcare Executive Leaders Play?

Interim Healthcare Executive Leaders are highly experienced, adaptable and reliable professionals.  They are enthusiastic and intrepid change agents who can quickly assess operational performance gaps, existing management strengths and weaknesses, and opportunities for improved physician alignment and integration. They provide senior leadership and/or the board of trustees the time they need to focus on other pressing issues during a prolonged leadership transition.

More than An Extra Pair of Hands – An Interim Healthcare Executive is more than just an extra pair of hands during a transition. The Interim Healthcare Executive comes with a fresh perspective, can objectively assess the situation and, with this fresh pair of eyes, can assist senior leadership to reprioritize and recalibrate its efforts. Where politics and long-standing, and sometimes, dysfunctional relationships are the reality and burden of the incumbent or outgoing senior leader, the Interim Healthcare Executive can step in free of these constraints and act as a “Doer” to accelerate change, implement needed actions, and plough the road for a longer-term successor.

Catalyst vs. Placeholder – In today’s fast-changing environment, healthcare organizations and physician group practices cannot afford to stand still. The external regulatory, reimbursement and technology environment is driving exponential change in our industry. Indeed, maintaining or defending the “status quo” is a recipe for extinction. To that end, the Interim Healthcare Executive is best utilized as a catalyst for change in an organization that may be at risk of losing momentum or getting stuck. Many of us have worked in healthcare organizations where the cultural inertia, political barriers, and fear of change have been daunting detractors for critically needed evolution. Organizations that cannot respond to these changes, or better yet, proactively tackle these challenges will be left behind.

Business Partners for Physician Leaders – With the advent of more physician leaders in senior administrative roles in health systems and large medical group practices, the utility of a “dyad” non-physician partner is evident. Many new physician leaders are talented clinicians and have credible clinical leadership skills however they cannot “do it all.” When transitioning to a physician leadership model, the Interim Healthcare Executive can serve as a supportive business partner and can be utilized effectively to boost the physician leader’s efforts. This partnership can ensure success during a leadership transition, as well as assess the need for a longer-term executive administrative partner. The Interim Healthcare Executive has valuable depth of knowledge in strategic, operational and financial areas of the enterprise and can be a valuable partner to the new physician leader.

Integrator and Team Booster – The Interim Healthcare Executive in addition to bringing a fresh perspective from the outside can help the senior leadership team “see the forest for the trees.” As an outside consultant, the Interim Executive can more objectively assess talent of the existing managers. Often with turnaround skills and experience, the Interim Executive is not shy about accelerating personnel changes that may have stalled. With this fresh perspective and without the political baggage, the interim executive can assist to realign individuals to areas where their talents are best suited and release the logjams that may have developed over the years. The result is talent rises to the proper place, adding value for the long term and creating better partners for colleagues and physicians which keeps the organization moving forward.

Need assistance in your search for an Interim Healthcare Executive?  Hopkins Tirrell & Associates and partner RoundTable Strategic Solutions can provide recommendations on your next steps.  Reach out to our teams at

*Check back next month for the second blog in this series: Accelerating Change with Interim Healthcare Executive Leadership – When and What to Look For


About the guest author:
Amanda Hopkins Tirrell, MBA FACHE is a senior health care executive with over 30 years of experience in academic medical centers, physician practice management, investor-owned healthcare systems and consulting. An energetic change agent with a reliable track record in transformation, clinical strategic planning, operations management and turnarounds, Ms. Hopkins Tirrell is a knowledgeable advisor and mediator skilled in developing collaborative alliances and partnerships with physicians, community organizations and other key constituencies. Ms. Hopkins Tirrell is President and Founder of Hopkins Tirrell & Associates, LLC a healthcare management consulting practice focused on providing strategic, operational and interim executive leadership solutions for healthcare systems, academic medical centers and medical group practices. She holds an MBA in health care management from the Wharton School and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. Website: