'No profit, no mission' — Why this CEO believes every healthcare leader needs a strong understanding of finance

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Mark R. Anderson, CEO of AC Group, a healthcare technology and advisory research firm based in Montgomery, Texas. 

Mr. Anderson will speak on a panel at Becker's Hospital Review 7th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable titled "The CEO paradox: Can you really have volume and value?" at 12:00 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12. Learn more about the event and register to attend in Chicago.

Question: What keeps you excited and motivated to come to work each day?

Mark Anderson: The knowledge that we are finally moving away from fee-for-service billing to value-based reimbursement. For example, at AC Group, we have been able to cut medical costs for diabetic patients by 38 percent just by tracking blood sugar levels at home. Pay for results — don't pay for just seeing the patient.

Q: What major challenges, financial or otherwise, are affecting hospitals in the markets you serve? How is your hospital responding?

MA: With hospital bankruptcies on the rise, we need to change how we deliver cost effective care and how we are paid. Because of high deductible health plans, the patient portion of the bill has increased from 9.4 percent in 2019 to 26.9 percent in 2017. How do we collect from the patient? How can we share clinical information about the patient with all providers without hurting our financial position?

Q: What initially piqued your interest in healthcare?

MA: It was my high school graduation present from my father. I wanted a trip to Hawaii and all I got was a letter stating, "Congratulations for finishing in the top 4 percent of your high school class. For your reward, you start work on Monday as the statistician for the hospital CEO." Forty-five years and 250 hospitals later, I am still in hospital executive management.

Q: What is one of the most interesting healthcare industry changes you've observed in recent years?

MA: To name a few: Moving to electronic billing in 1985, moving from spending 2.1 percent on IT in 2005 to over 6.5 percent today (was it worth it?), forcing physicians to become data entry clerks so we can maximize coding with very little improvement in "health," and moving to value-based reimbursement from fee-for-service so we are finally paid on quality, outcomes and our ability to lower costs through care coordination and remote patient monitoring. The four walls of the hospital are not the only care delivery system. Ninety-five percent of healthcare is delivered in the home.

Q: What is one piece of professional advice you would give to your younger self?

MA: Don't enter the healthcare market without a strong financial knowledge base. Healthcare is a business. As the nuns told me back in 1976, no profit — no mission to help the poor and disadvantaged.

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