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.

As the healthcare environment grows increasingly difficult to negotiate, it is incumbent on the CFO to have a solid understanding of strategy and operations. Much of the impact of changing requirements in healthcare rests squarely on the CFO’s shoulders, so success means meeting the challenge and being unfazed by change.

There’s also the importance of cultivating physician relationships. These relationships are particularly important since many health systems and hospitals continue to add physician groups. The CFO can play a key role in helping organizations manage through those acquisitions says Esselman.

“This is one of the most important changes in the CFO’s role in the last few years; they spend far more time; maybe as much as 40 percent, dealing directly with physicians,” said Christopher Kerns, of Research and Insights. Kerns emphasized that CFOs must strike a greater partnership with clinical leaders in order to develop strategic plans and reduce costs, while understanding the market and the drivers of profitability.

The role of today’s healthcare CFO goes well beyond keeping an eye on the bottom line. They are leaders playing a greater role in their organizations’ strategy and ultimate success. I think this is a promising trend.

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