Monday, Jan 22, 2024 | 12:00 AM ET

S1 E8: The Beat: Navigating Recession, Inflation, and Workforce Challenges In Healthcare

When you do a great job taking care of patients every day, why wouldn't you want to expand and serve even more people?

In this podcast episode, Chitra Nawbatt interviews Warner Thomas, CEO of Sutter Health, one of the largest health systems in the U.S. Warner emphasizes Sutter Health's vast scale, covering Northern California with over 20 hospitals and 30 surgery centers. He highlights the challenge of healthcare access in the region and the commitment to expanding medical education programs. Warner then explores the economic pressures on health systems, balancing financial stability, and the imperative to innovate in a challenging macroeconomic environment. He also emphasizes the importance of transitioning to value-based reimbursement models and investing in ambulatory care and digital technology for holistic patient care. Warner sheds light on Sutter Health's strategic focus on certain service lines like cancer and mental health, underscoring the need to align financial investments with these priorities. Finally, he highlights the significance of courage in leadership, taking risks, and the willingness to pivot in the face of challenges. 

Tune in and learn about the dynamic landscape of healthcare, the challenges and opportunities facing health systems, and the strategies employed by Sutter Health to navigate these changes!

About Warner Thomas:

Warner Thomas serves as the president and CEO of Sutter Health, a non-profit health system based in Northern California. Leading a team of over 50,000 employees, 12,000 physicians, and 2,000 advanced practice clinicians, Thomas oversees an integrated delivery system covering hospitals, outpatient care centers, home health, hospice care, labs, pharmacies, and research facilities. Before joining Sutter Health, he spent a decade as the president and CEO of Ochsner Health in Louisiana, where he focused on population health and initiated innovationOchsner, a lab for healthcare advancements

Thomas is a member of the American Hospital Association (AHA) Board of Trustees, a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, and has contributed to healthcare policy by advising Congress. Recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare in 2022 and 2023, he also earned distinctions such as being named to Becker's Healthcare's list of Top Hospital and Health System CEOs to Know in 2023. Beyond his professional achievements, Thomas has received honors like the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America and the A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award from the Anti-Defamation League.

Things You’ll Learn:

  • You have to be willing to take calculated risks.
  • If you sit back and wait for things to be perfect, it's never going to happen, and you'll miss opportunities.
  • You must be willing to take on a new challenge and move outside your comfort zone.
  • You can't shrink your way to greatness.
  • When you do a great job taking care of patients daily, why wouldn't you want to expand and serve even more people?


  • Connect with and follow Warner Thomas on LinkedIn.
  • Follow Sutter Health on LinkedIn and visit their website.
  • Check out the Sutter Health app here!


Warner ThomasPresident and CEO, Sutter Health

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