Cone Health executes $100M turnaround

Cone Health, a Greensboro, N.C.-based health system with five hospitals, executed a $100 million financial turnaround last year through strategic maneuvering and a focus on workforce transformation.

Vi-Anne Antrum, DNP, RN, told Becker's the health system didn't reduce headcount. Instead, Cone Health reduced contract labor 48% and hired more international nurses. The health system also established a systemwide float pool and created an internal travel agency and RN attending model.

"We created a conceptual framework for retention of our staff," she said on a recent episode of the "Becker's Healthcare Podcast." "We did a lot of work in the workplace violence space because people weren't feeling safe. These are some of the things we've done to address the looming workforce shortages."

Dr. Antrum focuses on collaboration and helping her team embrace innovation to accelerate transformation and drive results.

"I do think there are many talented people within the realm of healthcare, and when you just work together and focus on the goal that you need to achieve, you'll figure out a way to get it done," she said. "It's taking those unnecessary boundaries off your thinking and really just trying to solve issues together."

Cone Health has also brought in technology to boost the workforce, using generative AI to transform operations and care delivery. The health system also established a value-based care institute to fuel growth. Cone Health has a partnership with Palantir to automate staff scheduling and develop a "Future-Ready Workplace" strategy to optimize throughput, according to the health system's 2023 annual report.

Last year, the system reduced spend by around $60 million and is on track to cut another $40 million in spending, Dr. Antrum said.

"I'm very proud of the work in that space and it's taken a village, but I've been very happy to lead a lot of those strategies," she said.

The financial strength will be a boon to communities the health system serves. In April. Cone Health announced plans to invest $150 million over the next five years in a medical office complex in East Greensboro and health and wellness partnerships in the community.

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