The 12 best healthcare leadership books you need to read

Stephanie Shufelt, MBA

Founder of

The 12 best healthcare leadership books you need to read

2 June 2020 | 7min

What if you had the tools and knowledge to transform healthcare as we know it? Taking into account the top challenges that healthcare leaders are facing today, we have compiled a list of 12 books that enable you to do just that.

While change is not new, leaders agree that healthcare is transforming at an ever-increasing rate thanks to the speed of information, digitization, organizational change and behavior, as well as government, patient safety and quality, financial and socio-economic pressures.

Our recommended healthcare leadership books are listed in alphabetical order. They address the above topics so that you have what you need to face the changing times and transform healthcare as we know it, for the better. 

1. AI in health: A leader’s guide to winning in the age of intelligent health systems (HIMSS book series) by Tom Lawry

It is no secret that artificial intelligence (AI) and the cloud is transforming the way health and medical services are provided. The shift from traditional to intelligent systems in order to improve clinical, operational and financial performance is a key strategic consideration in the transformation of healthcare as we know it. 

This book defines key technical, process, people and ethical issues that need to be understood and considered in shaping the use of AI to be less ‘artificial’ and more ‘intelligent’ to deliver care and keep people healthy and productive across all care settings. 

2. Bad blood: Secrets and lies in a silicon valley startup by John Carreyrou

Financial challenges and pressures are no doubt the number one concern for healthcare leaders, but the cost of faster and easier can come at an even higher price: your ethics. 

This book is the riveting story of every CEO’s worst nightmare and biggest corporate fraud since Enron, depicting a disturbing and cautionary tale set amid bold promises. It is the story of the rise and fall of a multibillion-dollar start-up that was built upon a promise to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood tests significantly faster and easier. The problem? It did not work. 

3. Becoming the change: Leadership behavior strategies for continuous improvement in healthcare by Jouhn Toussaint, MD and Kim Barnas

The change in healthcare is not just at the organizational level, but also at the personal level. With that said, this book was written to show you how to cultivate principle-driven behaviors that can drive transformation at every level.

The authors draw on a variety of case studies to explore how change actually happens and reveals just how healthcare systems led by people who are compassionate, principled, and engaged can undergo profound and lasting transformation.

This book is currently available on pre-order and will be released on August 25, 2020 on Amazon. 

4. Design for care: Innovating healthcare experience by Peter Jones

Healthcare delivery and experience innovation is the new core competency of organizations that will survive the current healthcare transformation. Even the most innovative CEOs are investing heavily to bring the customer experience in healthcare closer to the standards set by other industries as per the Deloitte 2019 Health Care CEO Perspectives Study,1 which is why this book makes our list. 

It not only illustrates where and why the systems of healthcare need to be fixed, but also shows how service and information designers can work with practice professionals and patients/advocates to make a positive difference in healthcare. 

5. Good leaders ask great questions: Your foundation for successful leadership by John C. Maxwell

In a study by Roche conducted by C Space Health, executives as well as lab leaders were found to consistently undervalue the lab’s ability to impact their biggest organizational challenges.2 

This book makes our top list because in order to lead change, you need to have dialogue. By asking powerful questions you will encourage lab leaders, among others, to think and behave more strategically.

6. Growing physician leaders: Empowering doctors to improve our healthcare by Mark Hertling

When you think as a system, you look at opportunities to improve quality, communication and customer services while controlling expenses from a holistic perspective, which are all key challenges identified by healthcare executives. 

This book focuses on helping physicians become skilled in the art of leadership, which in turn will help support healthcare transformation at every level, which is why you also need to read this and drive change. The author introduces a process to assist doctors in improving their personal and professional health in addition to the well-being of their health organizations and their patients.

7. If Disney ran your hospital: 9 1/2 things you would do differently by Fred Lee

Leaders recognize that they share a lot of common ground with lab leaders according to C Space Health’s recent research study. They also know that the key to improving patient care while reducing costs and streamlining processes needs to include the input of staff across the organization. 

Using his professional experience with the Walt Disney Company and background in healthcare administration, the author draws a parallel between hospitals and the renowned mass media and entertainment conglomerate. Moreover, this book illustrates how facilities can follow the “Disney approach” to earn staff and patients’ trust and loyalty.

8. Making the healthcare shift: The transformation to consumer-centricity by Scott M. Davis and Jeff Gourdji

This book is a practical guide for healthcare leaders to transform their organizations and prepare for the changes to come while re-inventing how they engage with patients. 

The authors include over 60 executive interviews with the biggest names in healthcare such as Mayo Clinic, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, and Pfizer, as well as a quantitative research study that identify 5 shifts organizations can make to better compete in this evolving landscape.

9. Redefining health care: Creating value-based competition on results by Michael E. Porter and Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg

The authors of this book, renowned for strategy and innovation, are in agreement with healthcare leaders in that healthcare transformation is dependent on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of specific health conditions. 

This book lays out a breakthrough framework for redefining competition in healthcare delivery that further improves the quality and efficiency within healthcare organizations, including specific recommendations for hospitals, doctors, health plans, employers, and policy makers.  

10. Smart healthcare: How to assess and improve patient experience quotient by Greg Gutkowski and Charles Bell

One thing that leaders can agree upon when it comes to healthcare transformation is that a positive patient experience is vital to the success of every healthcare organization. It can potentially drive positive medical outcomes and also increase revenue and profit. 

This book discusses how to combine 5 leading trends – the growing cost of healthcare, digital revolution, rising competition for medical services, rising customer expectations, and consolidation of hospital groups – to create a better healthcare experience while lowering the cost of medical care. 

11. The 10 principles of a love-based culture: How authentic business leaders trust their employees to do the right thing by Ivo Nelson and Dana Sellers

With customer experience at the heart of healthcare and driving better standards, this book around culture was written by Healthlink CEO and contributed to by COO Dana Sellers. The 10 principles of a love-based culture is for leaders who want to help create happy customers, energize employees and enjoy year-over-year revenue growth, while steering your business away from fear and toward love. 

Healthlink enjoyed an impressive 13-year streak of 100% positive customer referrals – written by a CEO for a CEO, you will want to add this to your top reading list. 

12. Value-based healthcare and payment models: Including frontline strategies for 20 clinical subspecialties by Grace E. Terrell MD MMM CPE FACP FACPE, Julian D. “Bo” Bobbitt Jr. JD 

The shift towards adopting value-based payment models was rated as one of the top drivers of change.2 With this book, leaders of health systems and medical groups can achieve this goal and align their workforce to deliver quality care while lowering costs, which is also top of mind. 

The authors provide concrete and proven strategies to help make the transition towards value-based healthcare successful in both private and public healthcare sectors. 

In Summary

Leaders agree that healthcare is transforming at accelerating speeds thanks to digital transformation, growing costs and rising demand for quality patient care. 

These books will give you the knowledge and insights to transform healthcare as we know it into the next decade and beyond. 

Stephanie Shufelt, MBA is one of the editors and founders of She is dedicated to delivering high quality content on the topic of the future of healthcare to our readers.