5 tips from hospital CFOs

Hospital CFOs are required to have a certain skill set as they face today's healthcare challenges.

Hospital and health system finance chiefs have shared the following advice on meeting these challenges with Becker's Hospital Review since January:

1. Don Halliwill, CFO of Roanoke, Va.-based Carilion Clinic, shared his thoughts on keeping the focus on the patient. "As a finance leader, you recognize and remind others that there are always resource limitations, so you can't do everything you'd like to do for everybody all the time everywhere. There's just not enough money. But that doesn't mean you should ever discount the patient. The patient always has to come first," he said.

2. Mr. Halliwill also advised other hospital CFOs to think long term. "I think it's hard sometimes for finance folks to think past the current plan or budget, to think longer term," he said. "So, think about how decisions you make today will affect things five years, 10 years from now. It may not make a huge positive impact in the short term, but in the long term there could be value there."

3. Michael Breslin, CFO of NewYork-Presbyterian, a New York City-based academic health system, offered his views on navigating today's healthcare environment. "In today's world, I think you must continue to be open-minded but stay grounded in the role of the CFO," said Mr. Breslin. "Don't dismiss something that seemed outlandish a few years ago. But be the individual who continues to try to understand how it's going to change things. Understand how it's going to improve quality or reduce costs, but [also] understand the level of investment, the right level of investment and [whether] the returns are reasonable."

4. Linda Hoff, CFO of Stanford (Calif.) Health Care, shared her thoughts on working with physicians. "Become a partner with physicians in a way that develops a mutual respect for each other's role," she said. "The administrative side cannot be successful without the support and trust of the physicians. That's fun and rewarding for me. I would invest in improving communication with not just the physicians, but with all of the organization, focused on being as clear and concise as possible, to ensure they better understand their respective roles in the success of the organization."

5. Jim McManus, CFO of Greenbrae, Calif.-based Marin General Hospital, shared his views on how CFOs should approach each day. "We know that providing exceptional healthcare to our communities is becoming more challenging every year. Changes to our healthcare system are coming at us faster than ever before. My advice is first to show up with a positive, energetic attitude and take the day as it presents to you. Engage with your leadership to meet the needs of today and the opportunities for tomorrow," he said.


More articles on healthcare finance: 

Stanford Health Care CFO Linda Hoff on standardizing care to contain costs
Pennsylvania rural hospitals to experiment with new payment model
#WheresThePrice aims to keep hospitals honest on transparency



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