'We have to be more people centric': Grady CFO on the future of financial leadership

Coming off a March promotion that added COO to his existing CFO title, Anthony Saul is dedicated to expanding healthcare access at Atlanta-based Grady Health System.

Most recently, the academic health system shared plans to construct a $38 million freestanding emergency department in South Fulton County, Ga., this fall. 

"As we've been studying the market, studying the usage patterns, we knew we had to do something," Mr. Saul told Becker's. "This response really is Grady stepping forward with our partners at the county to bring the care that we think we need in this space."

Expanding services to the community comes at a time where hospitals are seeing significant cuts and closures across the U.S. It's a trend that Mr. Saul does not foresee coming to an end anytime soon.

While no significant interventions appear to be on the horizon to save the day for many struggling hospitals, Mr. Saul does expect to see mergers and acquisitions ramp up.

"I think we're in a transition phase in the healthcare ecosystem where the healthier organization will continue to prosper and grow," he said. "Unfortunately, we're going to be challenged in a lot of rural areas and a lot of markets that are contracting with keeping healthcare coverage in those particular markets. It's gonna be a larger divide of those who are doing well and those who are struggling."

To improve margins and keep them up, hospital and health system CFOs need to focus on their organizational strengths to secure wins in their markets. 

Evolving the CFO role is also key as the healthcare industry continues to change.

Mr. Saul encouraged CFOs to become more of a business strategist that provides actionable steps to CEOs and leadership teams to improve business performance. He also encouraged financial leaders to come out from behind their computers and talk to people to share their knowledge. 

"We have to be more people centric," Mr. Saul said. "... Where we're not just in the back office crunching numbers, but we're at the forefront of crafting strategy that's customer centric, that's business profitable and allows us to grow the right businesses."

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