The importance of working with others to accomplish hospital goals: Q&A with Flowers Hospital CFO Talana Bell

Talana Bell, CFO of Dothan, Ala.-based Flowers Hospital, knows how to work with a hospital's finance and administrative teams to accomplish organization goals.

Ms. Bell joined Flowers Hospital in 1999 as a financial analyst. She was only with the hospital for six months before she was promoted to CFO in 2000.

Talana BellQuestion: What are some of the best practices for running the finance team of a hospital or health system?

Talana Bell: First, surround yourself with excellent people who share the same passion you have for high quality. This not only applies to the financial team, but the administrative "strategy" team.  The CEO, CFO, CNO, COO, etc., should all be on the same page and working toward the same goals of providing the highest quality of care to our patients.  Know your most profitable service lines and how you can grow them.  Work with your team to develop strategies to grow the business and find other profitable lines that serve your market. Track the metrics that are important to you and your market and make those known to those responsible for those metrics.    

Q: What is the greatest challenge facing hospital and health system CFOs today? 

TB: Reimbursement, reimbursement, reimbursement. You can only cut costs so far.  You have to know what makes money in your organization. Sometimes that means making hard decisions to eliminate a service or say "no" to a physician or employee. There can be no "sacred cows" any longer.

Q: In the last year, what has been your greatest accomplishment as CFO?

TB: The promotion of my ACFO, whom I trained, to a CFO role in a sister facility was my greatest achievement. She shares my values and passion and will be an excellent CFO for the organization.

Q: What is your advice for other CFOs?

TB: Take time for yourself. Don't keep your "nose to the grindstone" day after day.  It isn't healthy and it certainly does not "help" your organization. This was a hard lesson for me to learn!

Q: What is one goal you have for the next year and how will you achieve it?

TB: My most important goal for 2015 is to remain focused and centered. I will achieve this by ensuring that I take time for myself to keep me calm and alert. A little stress stimulates growth, but too much kills the passion. I will keep my stress level at a manageable rate to help my organization thrive.

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