Marin General CFO Jim McManus on how a 'personal board of directors' influences his leadership style

Jim McManus brings expertise in strategic planning, program development and supply chain management to his role as CFO of Greenbrae, Calif.-based Marin General Hospital.

Mr. McManus joined Marin General Hospital in 2015 after serving as vice president of finance at Irvine, Calif.-based St. Joseph Health System. At St. Joseph, he achieved national recognition for developing and implementing the system's supply chain strategies for 14 hospitals and affiliates.

Previously, Mr. McManus also was vice president and CFO of Fountain Valley Regional Medical Center and Garden Grove Hospital & Medical Center, which are part of the Southern California Division of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare.

He earned his undergraduate degree from California State University at Long Beach.

Here, Mr. McManus explains what he enjoys about the CFO role, discusses his goals for 2019 and offers best practices for financial management and efficient operational performance.

Note: The following responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What do you enjoy most about being a CFO? 

Jim McManus: The opportunity to engage with other senior leaders in the operations of hospitals, healthcare centers and clinics in the development of opportunities to transform the organization to provide for the future healthcare needs of the communities served. Interacting with our executives and becoming involved in all aspects of operations provides great insight to me and therefore makes me a better financial executive.

Q: What philosophies, events or people influence your leadership style?

JM: Over the years, I have established a personal board of directors that I interact with from time to time. I will call on them and seek their guidance, especially when I am encountering a situation that I may be unfamiliar with. This board is comprised of business professionals, community members and long-established friendships. They are all people I have trusted and respected throughout the years.

Q: What is your top strategic or financial goal moving into 2019?

JM: My primary focus is the execution of a transformation program with our organization to improve the performance of our service lines and overall cost structure. We have brought together an array of people from the clinical, physician, financial and information technology areas to assess how our healthcare system is currently performing and what opportunities we have to improve. Part of our efforts are identifying our strengths (why the community comes to us to access care) and ensuring that those strengths are properly resourced for future growth. In this journey, consideration must be given to understand the needs of the community, looking through their eyes. We also are focusing on some traditional tactics such as labor benchmarking and stronger management of supplies and purchased services. We began this transformational effort approximately four months ago knowing that this will be at least a three-year journey.

Q: What are the best practices for financial management and efficient operational performance?

JM: First, it is important to provide financial education to leadership to develop a common understanding of the financial goals of the organization. This education would include review of their income statement(s) and associated metrics. At the same time, it is important for the finance team to receive some education in return on the operations. Conversations should be in keeping with the mission, vision and values of the healthcare organization. Second would be to have a rigorous process for reviewing open and new positions.

Third, the vetting of capital equipment and business development opportunities. Financial resources are precious. Regardless of the amount of cash available, we want to make sure our investments in capital equipment and new business development opportunities are solid and will provide a financial return. Finally, a more traditional approach is needed to continually benchmark supplies and purchase services in accordance with a national benchmark.

Q: What is one cost-effective change your organization has made in the last year? 

JM: We re-engineered our Productivity Optimization Committee to allow for a more thorough review of new and replacement full-time equivalents in our organization. The re-engineering included reducing the committee members by 60 percent and requiring each director, manager or executive to come before the committee to present their FTE request. Questions are asked in advance to allow for good conversation during the meeting. Benchmarking of the department/service line and span of control is also discussed. Decisions are made the same day along with the tracking of the change in FTEs and compensation and benefits.

Q: UC San Francisco and Marin General Hospital finalized a 10-year strategic alliance in September. What does this mean for the hospital's finances?  

JM: Together we are developing programs that will allow for our local community to access all their healthcare needs in Marin County. With the alliance comes the opportunity to install Epic in both our ambulatory/clinic settings and in our hospital, thereby taking advantage of work flow efficiencies. Successful development of new ventures and a highly functioning EHR will financially benefit both Marin General and UCSF.

Q: If you could pass along one nugget of advice to another hospital CFO, what would it be?

JM: 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.   


More articles on healthcare finance: 

10 hospitals seeking RCM talent
Patient billing protections, 'fair reimbursement' among recommendations in new report from Massachusetts health commission
RCM tip of the day: How to measure the patient financial experience

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