The Benefits of Departmental Blurred Lines at Healthcare Organizations

Not too long ago, I wrote about how the role of healthcare CFOs have transformed from being “number crunchers” into strategic business partners within their organizations. A recent article in Becker’s Hospital CFO that focused on two specific healthcare CFOs who have more day-to-day involvement within their organizations, made me want to revisit and further explore this topic of cross-functional engagement.

With readmissions impacting reimbursement, Pamela Hess, CFO of Saint Thomas Midtown and Saint Thomas West hospitals notes that she has gotten far more involved in meetings and initiatives including quality and infection control. While these are not the places we traditionally think CFOs are involved, Hess says she has learned a lot. Since her role now involves keeping readmissions down in order to keep reimbursements coming in, the more she understands about care quality, the better financial decisions she can make. The corollary: her chief medical officer has developed a better understanding of finance as well, a definite benefit for their organization at large.

Jon Duckert, CFO of Dallas-based Baylor Medical Center said it’s possible for organizations to improve their finances and patient experience all at the same time. He told a story about an employee who was doing pre-collection calls, the purpose of which is to inform patients who are scheduled for a procedure of the costs of that procedure and collect payment prior to treatment.

Over the course of doing many of these calls, a particular employee, Samantha, realized that many of the patients she spoke with had anxiety about coming to the hospital and the procedure they’d be having. So, she began reassuring them about the high-quality of care they’d receive. As a result, Duckert said that Samantha even gets flowers from patients thanking her for her time and for providing peace of mind. Baylor, through its employee Samantha, has been able to improve patient experience in the process of collecting payment, no small feat.

So, whether it’s a CMO who has a better understanding of the financial situation of the organization, a CFO who has a better grasp on reducing infections or a thoughtful employee who can help drive patient satisfaction, employees throughout an entire organization can work together to blur departmental boundaries to improve operations.




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