CFOs' roles are changing — so what are their top priorities?

CFOs face various pressures amid federal legislative uncertainty and the shift to value-based care.

Given these pressures, they must set top priorities to focus on so they keep pace with industry changes. Three panelists recently discussed top priorities such as budgeting for revenues, controlling rising costs and access to capital during a session at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable in Chicago. Here are quotes from the panelists.

Budgeting for revenues

Gordon Edwards, CFO of Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic Health System, said his organization eliminated its traditional budget and instead implemented a construct with two pieces. One of these pieces is a forecast aspect to see if Marshfield Clinic is meeting the board's goals. Another piece, he said, focuses on the management side and reorienting leadership around how to respond to demand and how to manage resources relative to demand.

"I don't think we've reduced the time [previously spent on the traditional budget process] — we've repurposed the time to better use. As we like to describe it to our leaders, we felt we spent $2 million a year in resources to create a document that was outdated the day the board approved it and really wasn't used throughout the fiscal year. So instead of spending that time and money on creating a document, we're spending the time and money around how do we continually improve our operations."

Controlling rising costs

Don Adam, chief development officer for True Health Diagnostics, a healthcare services organization, noted a challenge True Health Diagnostics faces when working with healthcare organizations on developing a lab for them or optimizing their lab program.

"I think the hardest thing we typically have to overcome is our approach to the people that are making decisions. We try and engage the lab director and tell he or she we're there to make them look like a hero as opposed to telling them what they're doing wrong in their job."

Access to capital

Jim McNey, senior vice president and CFO of North Kansas City (Mo.) Hospital, serves at an organization that has had strong finances, with a debt-to-capital ratio of less than 10 percent and limited access to capital as a result. When asked if his organization has seen its access to capital change, and what his organization has done to maintain a favorable position, he referenced physician involvement in the hospital's finances.

"I don't think we do a good enough job of getting [physicians] the information they need to understand the cost structures and the inefficiencies going on. Once they get a hold of that for the most part they're pretty good at getting those costs out of the system and that'll help generate more internal capital. The other thing I've found is if you've got a really good balance sheet, everybody wants to lend you a lot of money at really low rates."


More articles on healthcare finance:

Hospital groups, health systems sue HHS to halt $1.6B in payment cuts
Shuttered Tennessee hospital needs patients to pay up to cover $40k in past-due wages
CMS to launch 2 new Medicare appeals settlement options to clear claims backlog

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