Today’s CFOs Are Strategic Business Partners

I have noticed recently a trend of healthcare CFOs transitioning from the stereotype of a behind-the-scenes number cruncher to key managers who are very involved in daily operations and strategic planning. A recent article in Healthcare Finance News highlights this point.

Today’s CFOs still have an eye for numbers, but their roles are greatly expanded. “They are on the front lines, working with the CEO to develop a strategic plan for their organization, and … to identify growth opportunities,” according to Paul Esselman of Cejka Executive Search.

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Data and the healthcare supply chain

It’s very likely that the healthcare trends we’ve seen over the past couple years – provider and supplier consolidation, reduced reimbursement levels, patient care moving outside the hospital walls and the implementation of and integration of electronic health records (EHRs) – will continue.

As Bruce Johnson wrote last month, “at the core of these trends is a need for quality data so that leaders can make informed, quality decisions.” Mr. Johnson makes a point, I’ve written about before: we are not talking about data for the sake of data. Instead, this is about data that is usefully synthesized to improve the healthcare experience.

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Healthcare System Physical Integration Survey: Is Your System Poised for Success?

MedSpeed recently sponsored a survey of 20 healthcare executives from large systems across the country. Jamie Kowalski, a leading supply chain consultant, conducted the survey, which focused on the physical integration of expanding health systems and how those physical points of connection could be leveraged to deliver more integrated care. It also addressed how systems assess healthcare transportation.

I want to thank those who took the time to complete the survey and provide such valuable information. Historically transportation has been an ‘under-the-radar’ operation for health systems since their focus is the direct delivery of clinical care.

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Can Imitation Be More Beneficial than Innovation? The Answer May Surprise You

Innovation is the engine of change. And, as a recent Harvard Business Review post noted, “Health care is infatuated with innovation.” After all, innovation is how we’ve evolved as a society.

But what about imitation? Can our industry benefit from that?

The HBR post, titled “Health Care Needs Less Innovation and More Imitation” goes on to note that some health systems are emulating an approach adapted by Cisco Systems. Cisco doesn’t just invest in its own research; the company also teams up with partners that have promising products.

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Sustainability in Healthcare is More Important Than Ever

Healthcare Finance News reported that according to a recent survey, “more than half of U.S. hospitals now make sustainability a factor in purchasing decisions.” Even more importantly, the survey found that over 80 percent of hospitals in the U.S. expect to engage in sustainability purchasing within two years.

And that’s not surprising given that a different study from The Commonwealth Fund (also reported in Healthcare Finance News), found that hospital sustainability efforts could save the healthcare industry up to $5.4 billion over five years and $15 billion over 10 years.

That’s a lot of dollars.

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What Healthcare Executives Can Learn from P&G

Procter & Gamble (P&G), the world’s largest consumer-products company that aggressively expanded for years, recently announced that it will sell more than half of its brands.

Are you asking what this has to do with healthcare? Well, a lot actually.

Just like many of today’s health systems, P&G is in a very competitive and changing market. While it was successful under its former strategy for many, many years, leadership realized that the best way to continue to lead the market was to become more nimble. As Lindsey Dunn quoted in a recent Becker’s Hospital Review blog post, the idea is to “create a faster growing, more profitable company that’s far simpler to operate.”

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Curing What Ails the Healthcare System: Shared Responsibility

Recently, I’ve written about how cost-cutting alone will not keep healthcare organizations in the black. We’ve heard it from analysts, and recently, article in HealthLeaders, we heard it from Otis Brawley, MD, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

In the article, Dr. Brawley cites staggering statistics about how much we spend, and will continue to spend, on healthcare and lays out what he thinks is a solution: promoting shared responsibility. And that means everyone: doctors, healthcare systems, insurers, drug companies, lawyers, patients, etc.

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Survival of the Fittest: Is Your Healthcare Organization Adapting?

Integration is a topic I am very interested in. It is a large part of what we do and I pay close attention to integration-related discussions and articles. Recently, I came across this HealthLeaders interview with Joe Gifford, MD, the CEO of the Providence-Swedish Health Alliance, which speaks to this very topic.

With the continual changes the healthcare industry has experienced, the mantra of “adapt or die,” has been heard before. But according to Mr. Gifford, that analogy to evolution biology really rings true. His take? Only organizations that take chances (adapt) will survive.

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C-Suite Strategy for Successful Change: Integration is the key to reinvent healthcare

Recently, Becker’s Hospital Review convened 20 CEOs from a diverse cross-section of healthcare delivery systems around the U.S. The purpose was to learn what they (and other C-suite leaders) are doing to successfully adapt to the unprecedented change our industry is experiencing and to also examine the myriad challenges they face along the way.

One significant conclusion: in order to create successful and integrated delivery models, it’s imperative that healthcare systems break through legacy silos and acknowledge the important co-existence of horizontal and vertical integration—across boundaries of care, within and outside of a hospital structure.

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Healthcare Providers Are Feeling the Squeeze: Cost-cutting alone just won’t cut it

“Healthcare providers as a group continue to operate with slim and shrinking margins,” according to recent analysis from Modern Healthcare. Sadly, that’s not a surprise to most of us. The study—which included acute-care, post-acute care, rehabilitation and specialty hospital groups as well as stand-alone hospitals— found that the average operating margin in 2013 was 3.1%, which was down from 3.6% in 2012. Over 61% of organizations saw their operating margins erode over the previous year.

While we’ve seen this coming, the news is sobering. And analysts are skeptical that the worst is over. According to Modern Healthcare, all three credit-rating agencies hold negative outlooks for the not-for-profit healthcare sector.

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