Purpose– While the intellectual capital perspective has been widely applied to research in knowledge‐intensive industries, less attention has been paid to the healthcare sector. This exploratory study aims to investigate how hospitals view the importance of intellectual capital and performance in the healthcare sector. It identifies the elements and relative importance of intellectual capital and performance measurement in the Taiwanese healthcare industry. Design/methodology/approach– This study was executed by a developmental process comprising four phases: the generation of critical elements; expert review and perceptual assessments of the elements; data collection; and data analysis. This study developed a preliminary checklist with detailed IC elements and performance indicators derived from both literature reviews and practices. The questionnaire was refined by expert review. The pilot study collected data from 30 healthcare managers. Findings– The critical intellectual capital elements and performance indicators regarded as important for performance management practices in the Taiwanese hospital industry were identified. They reveal the relative importance and ranking of human, organizational and relational capitals, and performance indicators. Practical implications– By using the intellectual capital navigator (ICN) and the Effector Plot, this study analyzed resource transformations and resource influence among human, organizational and relational capital. This study highlighted five noteworthy issues.Originality/value– This study will contribute to both theory and practice. Theoretically, it generalizes IC in the healthcare setting and is a starting point for exploring healthcare IC and performance in Taiwan. Practically, it contributes to references for healthcare managers, giving a prioritized array of critical resources and performance measurements in practice.