How an intelligent financial management system can drive decision-making for financial sustainability

Healthcare leaders are challenged to restore their organizations to fiscal health in the aftermath of the devastating pandemic and amid towering inflation.

During a July Becker's Hospital Review webinar sponsored by Multiview, health system finance leaders discussed how actionable financial, strategic and operational data can help organizations power through those dual challenges. Panelists were:

  • Kurt Rogers, CFO, Cottage Health (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
  • Eric Strucko, CFO, USC Health System Keck Medicine (Los Angeles area)
  • Randolph Siwabessy, CFO, UCI Health (Orange, Calif.)

Three key takeaways were:

  1. Decreasing reimbursements and rising labor costs are jeopardizing financial sustainability. Panelists described payers as getting increasingly "creative" about declining to pay for health services, which elevates claims denial rates and the administrative burden associated with managing denials. This is especially a problem for organizations that contract non-affiliated providers, who do not necessarily share detailed data, though timely access to ICD-10 codes associated with billable events can equip organizations with better insight to dispute unjustified denials. "Now I´m doing my own data mining and it´s extremely labor intensive and not very efficient," Mr. Rogers said. "I need better data intelligence to find out what payers are doing."

Increasing labor costs are also putting pressure on institutions to improve efficiencies by understanding the financial impact of vacancies and provider burnout. For example, organizations often rely on contract labor such as traveling nurses to compensate for staffing shortages, but those providers charge premium fees. Having the right systems to track revenue and expenses in relation to labor costs is another reason to invest in advanced data capabilities and systems.

  1. Getting greater visibility into pertinent, actionable data helps link finance with strategy. To promote data transparency, UCI Health assembled a data governance team that shares operational, strategic and financial data, which is then published across the enterprise. To drive accountability for the results reflected in the data, the organization also instituted regular accountability meetings and operating reviews. 

"From a data management perspective, it's important to get to what matters. One challenge is that there's so much data that being able to not be overwhelmed by it but tell the right story, so that we don't get lost in the data, [is essential]," Mr. Siwabessy said.

  1. A financial management system that creates business intelligence can be a game changer. The cost pressures healthcare organizations are experiencing and the abundant data they have at their disposal are juxtaposed against the problem and its potential solution. However, for data to be leveraged for actionable insight generation, it needs to be hosted within a financial management system that serves as more than just a general ledger or a budget-building tool. 

Such a system must create actionable business intelligence, so "we can look at ways to manage costs quickly, not wait for a month of information to pass by before we can act, but to create data flow to generate information that we can move in real time," Mr. Strucko explained. He gave the example of using real-time information to adjust staffing to available beds, something that acutely affects community-based hospitals with limited resources and margins.

Healthcare institutions do not need more data; they need more targeted and better organized data to make decisions and drive actions that ensure financial sustainability. In producing this data, technology partnerships can play a crucial role. 

Enterprise resource planning software such as Multiview Financial's solution, which allows organizations to assert a view as to what they need and receive a customized configuration, is one powerful solution.

 

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