Sunday, January 29, 2023

Premier CEO DeVore worries about paying for Baby Boomer care

Susan DeVore
[/media-credit] Susan DeVore


The Charlotte Chamber’s annual Health Care Summit featured an interesting panel Wednesday in which three CEOs — Susan DeVore of Premier Inc., Carl Armato of Novant Health and Eugene Woods of Atrium Health — answered questions about their industry and “transformational change.” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles was the moderator.

As often happens at meetings in which I’ve seen her participate, DeVore stole the show with her candor and insightful comments.

Here are a few highlights:

“We are severely underestimating what is going to happen with the silver tsunami,” she said, referring to the large number of baby boomers who will need more health care over the next 20 years. “We’re going to have a lot of seniors who don’t have any money.” A big factor, she said, is the elimination of traditional pension plans, leaving more people without significant resources in retirement. “That’s really going to stress the health care system.”

Government and insurance companies can’t fix the messy U.S. health care system, so the onus is on businesses and health care providers to act, DeVore said. “It needs to get fixed from inside the system. I want a system that if I use it, it won’t hurt me, and I will be treated like a consumer who is going to get the best health care possible — and somehow it has to be affordable.”

She applauded the much-publicized venture by JPMorgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway and Amazon to study better approaches to health care. “That is the way to go,” she said, urging employers to work directly with providers to seek better outcomes, more satisfied employees and transparent costs.

Lyles also asked each CEO to describe how they responded to a particular difficulty. DeVore told of how, while working at the Ernst & Young accounting firm, she helped confidentially rate  employees on a 1-to-5 scale. Then she mistakenly sent an email listing every one’s ranking to a large number of employees.

She responded by calling every employee to explain what happened and discuss the ratings. The lesson learned, she said, was that about 80% of the workforce are 3s who need investment so they can become 4s and 5s. “Remember those 3s — they are doing all of your work.”


David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

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