Yale New Haven Health CFO Vincent Tammaro on clinical and financial alignment

Vincent Tammaro knows that healthcare finance is inextricably tied to quality, and has made it a priority to team with clinical leaders at Yale New Haven (Conn.) Health and align organizational goals.

Mr. Tammaro joined Yale New Haven Health in 2002 as director of financial reporting before rising to become CFO and executive vice president of corporate finance. He recently took the time to speak with Becker's about what strategic initiative is demanding the most energy in 2019 and what greatness looks like on his team.

Editor's Note: Responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What do innovators/entrepreneurs from outside of healthcare need to better understand about hospital/health system leaders?

Vincent Tammaro: There are enormous opportunities for us in healthcare to learn from innovators in other industries. That said, innovators and entrepreneurs outside of healthcare must understand most large healthcare delivery systems are mission driven and usually not-for-profit. For example, while Yale New Haven Health is anchored by a cutting edge quaternary care center, we also proudly are the primary care provider for 50 percent of the state's Medicaid population and the largest employer in Connecticut. We have a primary responsibility to our patients and communities. That said, we health systems face challenges that require us to innovate. The solution is to innovate in pockets, be honest about failures and successes, be humble about adopting lessons from other organizations and industries and then rapidly scale successful pilots across our organizations. 

Q: What one strategic initiative will demand the most of your time and energy in 2019?

VT: One exciting focus for the coming year is the acceleration of our system's total cost of care (TCC) initiative. We have learned over the years that enhancing links between finance and clinical operations at all levels of leadership yields enormous dividends in the form of smoother, more efficient and rapid development of new programs that generate both incremental revenue and savings. We are deepening that collaboration as our TCC work focuses on deploying a team-based care model for populations in a way that advances our mission to serve our communities, enhance quality of care, and reduce expenditure.

As a result of a close alignment between our system COO, CMO and myself, TCC is charged with creating an infrastructure that includes scalable IT architecture for clinical and financial reporting across the a range of ambulatory providers and a nimble, multidisciplinary care team aimed at enhancing care for our most vulnerable patients. Given the financial pressures created by the demographics and politics of our geography, we have to develop the internal capacity to manage patients across the continuum of care in a way that reduces cost and burden to our front line providers and explore relationships with the state and local employers. We have also incorporated clinicians into our financial leadership, which is creating opportunity for innovative ventures outside our core business model.

Q: Can you share some praise for the people you work with? What does greatness look like to you when it comes to your team?

VT: I'm consistently impressed by fellow employees across our organizations, who live our values of patient centeredness and mutual respect. My interaction with a variety of people from different organizations and industries often speak to the importance of creating a healthy organizational culture. It’s easy for people removed from direct patient care to develop distinct cultures that don’t align with an organization’s mission. At Yale New Haven Health, adoption of high reliability precepts like communication, accountability, mentorship and questioning the status quo has resulted in an increased appreciation for how every part of the health system impacts our patients and fellow employees. Members of the finance team don’t take themselves too seriously and engage in healthy skepticism, but at the end of the day feel grateful to work for a genuinely mission-driven organization that is a force for good in the communities we serve. Their dedication, belief in our mission and hard work is inspiring.

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