Health system finance teams ripe for change

Debra Thomas, senior vice president and CFO of the East Florida Division at AdventHealth, sees a big opportunity to transform her finance team in the coming years as the healthcare delivery system evolves.

"Our finance teams will need to expand their roles beyond traditional cost and revenue management to include partnering with clinicians to lead interdisciplinary teams to execute on practical opportunities that reduce clinical variation that is focused on maintaining or improving quality and experience while right-sizing utilization of resources and partnering with clinicians to find mutually beneficial solutions," Ms. Thomas told Becker's

She's not alone in her journey to find innovative solutions to rising costs. Around half of CFOs are prioritizing reducing costs and managing strategic and performance improvement in the next year, according to a Strata survey released earlier this year. But the cost cutting can't come at the expense of quality or supporting clinicians in care delivery.

Expenses remain high for many health systems, as labor shortages and inflation boost expenses. While expense growth has slowed, supply costs were up 20.7% and labor expenses were 21.3% higher in 2023 than in 2019

Improving patient throughput and workflow is an area ripe for collaboration between the clinical and financial teams. Strata reported adjusted patient days at hospitals surveyed was up 7.4% last year compared to 2019, and operating room minutes are up 1.6%.

Alignment and connection between the finance and clinical teams can spark meaningful change, Ms. Thomas said.

"[These relationships] will require the financial teams to strengthen their influence, collaboration and problem solving skills as well as increase their understanding of the 'how and why' of physician practices and clinical operations beyond the traditional management of case management throughput, supply costs and productivity," said Ms. Thomas.

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