It’s all about collaboration

At today’s healthcare organizations, the role of CFO is evolving.  CFOs continue to be involved in high-level financial strategy, but they are also increasingly looking at ways to improve day-to-day operations. It’s really not surprising since in this era of diminishing margins, well-run operations are especially important to the financial health of hospitals and health systems.

To delve further into these new roles of CFOs, Becker’s Healthcare and Bank of America Merrill Lynch conducted a survey of healthcare financial leaders and a subsequent roundtable discussion from which they created an eBook, The Quest for Sustainability and the Evolution of the CFO.

Here are some of the takeaways that resonated most with me.

As the role of CFO overlaps more and more with that of the COO, one CFO commented, “I think that the two roles definitely should be … joined at the hip. … It just makes for a much stronger approach to the type of problem solving that we’ll need to have in the future.”

Increased financial pressures are forcing healthcare organizations to consider cost-cutting initiatives in areas of operations that are often outside the purview of the CFO, including labor management and supply chain. The result is a far more collaborative relationship between CFO and COO.

The eBook points out that hospitals that have CFOs and COOs working closely tend to have a more cohesive culture, but these relationships need to place an emphasis on the real-time exchange of financial and operations data between leaders instead of retroactively assessing data at the end of every month. In other words: work together; collaborate; because there’s no room for Monday morning quarterbacking in healthcare.

One of the CFOs discussed the importance of creating partnerships and collaborating in ways that are transparent. “We can’t be hospital-centric anymore,” she said.  “We’ve really got to be able to look at the entire delivery system and invest in the right places.”

And then (in my opinion), she really gets to the heart of the matter.

“You need to draw the line and understand what you’re good at, what your core competency is and then look for partnerships where they can help you shore up your strategic initiatives. Don’t try to be all things to all people … look for partners that can help you be successful in [your] core competencies or engage in a new strategy in an area where [they’re] strong … all of that is going to be absolutely critical to the future financial sustainability of an organization.”

Collaboration has to happen inside and outside of the hospital walls. If we’re going to succeed at delivering better care at lower costs, it’s going to take everyone working together to make it happen.

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