The Evolving Role of Finance in Healthcare

Finance Executives are now playing an increasingly crucial role in organisations and Healthcare is no exception. Not only are their responsibilities & mandate growing, but they also need to step up their involvement at a strategic level to help deliver better care at a lower cost.

This increased leadership role requires skills that exceed the scope of Finance: Good understanding of clinical challenges, people management, technology acumen, communication decision making, data-driven…

The key priorities of Finance in Healthcare are changing as the industry is moving towards value-based care, process automation and financial efficiency.

Driving Cost Management Initiatives

CFOs are under increasing pressure to drive cost improvement measures and keep operating margins at the right level. Taking well-informed decisions requires comprehensive, granular and real-time information to ensure full efficiency and build the credibility of Finance as a strategic advisor.

Finance must take the lead and provide efficient processes, tools and resources to help:

  • Prevent risks & costs before they occur or get out of control
  • Advise and provide recommendations with the #1 outcome in mind: Patient Care
  • Monitor the efficiency of cost reduction measures

From a technology perspective, the CFO needs to work hand in hand with the CIO to re-examine the IT ecosystem, automate simple & repetitive tasks with Robotic Automation and AI tools, and assess the cost-effectiveness of maintaining separate systems, consolidating them or creating a hybrid infrastructure.

Supporting Clinical performance & Quality of Care

The Finance department is the cornerstone of a Health organisations’ performance not only ensuring financial sustainability but also in supporting clinical excellence and helping improve the quality of care.

How? By tracking and forecasting more efficient key metrics from Financial indicators to clinical KPIs such as: Hospital Acquired Complications, Relative Stay Index, Average Length of Stay, Readmission rate, Average Diagnosis coded (Acuity), Long Stay proportion, Operating Expenses, Labour Costs, Activity-based Funding…

Being at the heart of the organisation, Finance is in a unique position to better link clinical & costing data and drive process improvements.

Keeping an eye on the Revenue Cycle

Finance Executives are on the frontline to speed up the revenue cycle and provide visibility over the complete cycle of care. They need to build a 360° and accurate, real-time view of the patient journey, connecting to all data (Financial, clinical, external…) to help drive better performance.

Making sure the patient experience is outstanding from admission to discharge also means providing transparent costing information, seamless payment, feedback collection through Patient Reported Measures…

Implementing Better Performance Management Processes

Collaboration, workflows and Budgeting/Forecasting processes usually offer much room for improvement in Healthcare and cause inefficiency, poorly informed governance and transparency challenges.

Developing more integrated and streamlined processes across financial planning and strategic capital allocation must be one of Finance’s top priorities, as well as leveraging rolling forecasts to foster consistent financial performance and responsiveness.

However, just implementing a system is not sufficient if the underlying process is not addressed too. Combining People, Structures and Technology is key to improving collaboration and performance across the organisation and can generate significant returns.

Communicating effectively

Finance now requires more than ever, great communication skills and tools. The days of quarterly presentations over outdated endless spreadsheets is over, and CFOs are now accountable to provide timely, accurate and clear information to the business, allowing fast and well-informed decisions.

All stakeholders need a good understanding of the relationship between critical financial, quality, patient flow and workforce data points. Everyone from the executive team to the care team and even the patients themselves need easy access to the insights to facilitate better health for patients and a better bottom line for the organisation.

This is now made possible by self-service Business Intelligence and Corporate Performance Management platforms, which allow the automation of Dashboard & Board Packs as well as ad-hoc, intuitive and self-service reports and queries.

Collecting insights and providing access to the right information at the right time is a responsibility now shared by both IT and Finance and a key requirement for a well-functioning Healthcare organisation.

Written by Olivier Bastard – Account Executive at AtoBI
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